Connect with us

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Minnesota United: Player Grades and Man of the Match



Led by a brace from Nani, Orlando City won 3-1 over Minnesota United to advance to the MLS is Back Tournament final against the Portland Timbers. It was the Lions’ first win over Adrian Heath and the Loons and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Needing late-game heroics to advance against LAFC, Orlando had to prevent such antics to see out the win and substitute Benji Michel sealed the victory with a late goal.

How did your favorite Lions do in the big semifinal win? Here are our player grades and Man of the Match.


GK, Pedro Gallese, 6.5 —  The Peruvian didn’t have to face a shot on target until the 75th minute, when he was forced to make an impressive palm save after a free kick. On Minnesota’s goal, he was put in a tough spot by a great ball from Kevin Molino and just couldn’t get enough on Mason Toye’s shot to keep it out from goal. The late goal ruins his clean sheet, but Gallese still looked comfortable and dealt with 10 corners and plenty of free kicks from a Minnesota team that makes opponents pay on set pieces.

D, João Moutinho, 7 — The left back was tested early and often in the match, but held his own against Ethan Finlay, who had a quiet night. It was yet another solid performance from the 22-year-old as Finlay was effectively neutralized, although Robin Jansson helped in that regard. Still, Moutinho had a very strong defensive outing with a team-high six tackles to stop dangerous balls from causing too much trouble.

D, Antonio Carlos, 6.5 — It’s hard to tell that this is only Carlos’ eighth game with the Lions, considering just how well he plays alongside Jansson and under Pareja. He’s played every minute for Orlando this tournament and last night was a great example why. Carlos had five clearances, two interceptions, two blocks, and a tackle, and was a force in the air, preventing Minnesota from taking advantage of set pieces. A strong center back pairing is the backbone that allows Orlando’s talented fullbacks to really work their magic and Carlos is proving his value this tournament.

D, Robin Jansson, 7 — The other half of the center back duo had a strong game as well. Toye’s goal was the only real blip in his performance as he just couldn’t stop Toye from getting one past them. For most of the night though, Jansson led the team with six clearances and shut down anything that came his way. But he had a role on offense as well, picking out one heck of a 65-yard long ball to find Nani behind the defense for Orlando’s first goal and his first assist in MLS.

D, Ruan, 6 —  Most of Orlando’s offensive chances came from the right side of the field and Ruan was a big reason. He created plenty of chances in the first half and would’ve had an assist if Tesho Akindele connected better on a low cross. In the second half, he should have scored with a header in front of goal to put the game on ice. He struggled late in the match, but remained a menace for Minnesota defenders.

MF, Sebas Mendez, 7 — Orlando’s engine was at full steam in this game as Mendez led the team with 59 passes and had 68 touches — behind only Nani and Moutinho. Yes, Nani deserves the bulk of the credit for the second goal, but it was Mendez who reacted quickly to find Nani across the field, and deliver a ball fast enough and accurate enough to really earn that assist. He almost had a second assist but Ruan couldn’t convert his drilled cross. If he continues to do well with the ball at his feet like last night, then the game will really open up for the Lions.

MF, Oriol Rosell, 6.5 — With four tackles, 52 passes, and 61 touches, Rosell was on the ball often and had the kind of quiet game expected from a defensive midfielder. Rosell wasn’t too present in the offensive side of things like Mendez, but didn’t really need to be as he shut down passing lanes and smothered Minnesota’s options. Or at least until Molino’s assist that breezed past him and gave Minnesota life, so he loses a bit of praise there.

MF, Chris Mueller, 4 — Mueller lacked his usual bite in the match and there may be some lingering issues with his shoulder. Mueller certainly didn’t look like the energetic midfielder that had the league buzzing in the group stage, even though he had the benefit of Ruan opening up space on his side of the field. He was uncharacteristically sluggish and tended to pass laterally or back rather than pushing the envelope offensively. The American made some nice tackles to disrupt play when tracking back, but was beaten on occasion as well during his 66 minutes on the field.

MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 6 — Although he didn’t play a role in any of the goals or have any key passes in this one, Pereyra directed the flow of play and did well in the midfield. Pereyra finished with 54 passes and a strong 85% success rate on those passes. Whether he was surrounded by defenders or sitting deep in the midfield to pick out a pass, Pereyra was a key part of Orlando’s offensive possessions.

MF, Nani, 8.5 (MotM) — He did exactly what he was brought in to do as a Designated Player. Nani created chance after chance and scored the team’s first two goals with mostly solo efforts. With a perfect first touch and understated strength, he beat his defender to squeak a goal past goalkeeper Tyler Miller. His second goal was a thing of beauty. Nani created space and curled one into the right corner from distance. His two goals in seven minutes shouldn’t overshadow the rest of his Man of the Match performance which included a secondary assist on Michel’s goal to see out the game.

F, Tesho Akindele, 5 — It was another quiet night for Akindele, with his best chance to score coming in the 15th minute. Ruan whipped a low cross in front of goal for him, but he just couldn’t keep his shot from going over the crossbar. He was substituted for some fresher legs in the 66th minute and just didn’t see much action beyond drawing defender’s attention.


F, Benji Michel (66’) 6 — The forward was brought on with a two-goal lead and did fairly well holding possession on offense and keeping Minnesota honest with the threat of a counter. His goal sealed the win for the Lions in the last moments of the match, weaving around Miller to score on an empty net. You have to appreciate his effort to sprint and make sure that Orlando advanced.

MF, Junior Urso (66’) 5.5 — Urso made his return to the field after an injury in the group stage to help the Lions see out the game. He committed some debatable fouls and gave away possession a few times but hopefully it was just some rust. He does deserve credit for the assist in Michel’s late goal and making runs and for helping see out the clock by finding teammates in space.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel (85’), N/A — The center back came on later for Jansson and had a clearance to do his part in Orlando’s defense against a surging Minnesota team but wasn’t on long enough to earn a grade.

MF, Andrés Perea (85’), N/A — The midfielder brought fresh legs to help back up a fading Ruan on the right side of the field. His biggest moment came when Ruan got twisted around and Perea rushed to jump and intercept a cross from going into the box.

D, Kyle Smith (89’), N/A — Smith came in to relieve Pereyra and gave Orlando some more presence on defense to successfully secure the win.

It was a good game both offensively and defensively from Orlando City, which wasn’t something that happened too often in the past. But with Head Coach Oscar Pareja providing leadership and the team practically oozing confidence, the Lions have proven they can hang with the big dogs in the league. Nani’s brace in just six minutes will certainly grab attention, but it was a team effort for Orlando to make it this far in the tournament.

How do you feel about the individual performances and the grades? Were we too low or too high on some players? Tell us by commenting and voting on the Man of the Match below.

Polling Closed

Robin Jansson5
João Moutinho101
Sebas Mendez46

Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/29/23

Orlando City prepares for CF Montreal, learning more about Duncan McGuire, Jack Lynn named to MLS NEXT Pro Best XI, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

It’s Friday, which means we’re just one day away from a pretty busy weekend of Orlando soccer. It should be a pretty fun next few days, with Orlando City, the Orlando Pride, and Orlando City B all in action. I don’t have many weekend plans beyond working and getting some writing and reading done. Let’s get to the links!

Orlando City Prepares for CF Montreal

Orlando City hosts CF Montreal tomorrow night in a showdown between two Eastern Conference teams with just four games remaining this season. It’s the second match between the two teams this year, with Montreal beating the Lions 2-0 in Canada on May 6. In the time since that game, the Lions have only lost three games this season and have not been defeated at home since April 22. Orlando’s next win will be Head Coach Oscar Pareja’s 60th with the Lions, and tomorrow’s match could also break club records for most wins and points in a season. A win for the Lions would be massive to put some breathing room between them and the other top teams in the Eastern Conference.

Get to Know Duncan McGuire

Orlando forward Duncan McGuire was the latest to go under the microscope as part of the club’s video series to learn more about the players. The rookie spoke on his upbringing as a middle child, as well as how he turned to soccer after struggling in other sports. McGuire also talked about his acrobatic goal celebrations and a clip is included of a time he didn’t quite stick the landing after scoring for Creighton. It’s a pretty fun interview, as he gave some details on how Mason Stajduhar is a quick learner when it comes to golf and how he wants to go out to dinner with Ana de Armas.

Jack Lynn Makes MLS NEXT Pro Best XI

Orlando City B forward Jack Lynn was named to the MLS NEXT Pro’s Best XI for the second straight year. Lynn fueled OCB’s offense this season, scoring 19 goals to help the Young Lions claim a spot in the playoffs. No MLS NEXT Pro player has scored more goals since the league’s inaugural season last year than Lynn, who has 34 goals under his belt. The 23-year-old is joined on the front line of this year’s Best XI with the two players he tied with for the Golden Boot, New York City FC II’s Matt Myers and Colorado Rapids 2 forward Remi Cabral.

Orlando City B Takes On Columbus Crew 2 This Sunday

The Young Lions will play their first MLS NEXT Pro playoff game this Sunday when they face Columbus Crew 2 on the road at 5:30 p.m. It will be the third and final match between the two sides this year, with each claiming a big win over the other earlier in the season. No team that qualified for the playoffs has lost more road games than OCB this season, which may be why Columbus elected to face Orlando. However, Orlando’s offense has been electric at times this year thanks to Lynn, Shak Mohammed, Wilfredo Rivera, and others. Sunday may be another wild game with the Young Lions involved and you can check it out on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+.

Tahir Reid-Brown Called Up for Training Camp

United States U-17 Men’s National Team Head Coach Gonzalo Segares called up 20 players for a training camp in Brazil to prepare for the U-17 World Cup in November. OCB defender Tahir Reid-Brown was the lone Orlando representative called up for this camp. The 17-year-old was called up to the U-17 team earlier this April for a training camp in Florida. He’s had an impressive year, earning a spot in the MLS NEXT All-Star Game and making 10 appearances for OCB. The U.S. will take on Brazil on Oct. 4 and Oct. 6 in a pair of friendlies during this camp.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando City center back Rodrigo Schlegel unveiled the meaning behind his tattoos, including the ones for his parents and his biggest moments as a Lion.

That’s all I have for you today. Hopefully the weather plays nice this weekend and you’re able to do everything you have planned. Have a great Friday!

Continue Reading

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Three Keys to Victory

What does Orlando City need to do to earn all three points against CF Montreal this Saturday in Exploria Stadium?



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Orlando City hosts CF Montreal in the second-to-last home match of the 2023 MLS regular season at Exploria Stadium this Saturday night. The Lions have already secured a spot in the playoffs but are now fighting for home field advantage. Montreal is currently sitting in eighth place in the Eastern Conference and is fighting for a playoff spot.

What does Orlando City need to do to secure three important points against the Canadian Club Foots?

Time to Make the Donuts

It had been a minute since Duncan McGuire scored a goal for Orlando City — and by a minute I mean since July 29. McGuire had a few opportunities against Inter Miami and managed to get one to equalize for the Lions and ensure a point at home. I do think he might have scored on another of those chances if he was fully back in form after his injury time, but I’ll take the goal. 

My hope is that getting that goal will remind him that he can score goals when given the opportunity, and he will be better about finishing the chances he gets against Montreal. Sometimes it just takes getting that first goal to open up the muscle memory and to unlock the confidence needed in a striker. It’s time for Duncan to score more goals, and the match against Montreal is the first and best opportunity to do so since Montreal starting center back Joel Waterman will be serving a red card suspension.

Switch up the Lineup

I propose a change to the starting lineup — something Oscar Pareja does not do very often. Due to injuries and other factors such a move wasn’t possible earlier in the season, but I think it could work now. I have a ton of respect for Mauricio Pereyra, but he could probably use a rest to be fresh for the playoffs as the regular season winds down. 

I suggest letting Martin Ojeda get the start in the 10 spot, moving Dagur Dan Thorhallsson up the wing, and having Michael Halliday take over at right back. Ojeda’s play as of late has been much improved, and with Halliday healthy again, why not take advantage of Dagur Dan’s versatility along the wing. I think this move provides energy, a surprise for opposing defenses, and allows Facundo Torres more freedom. 

Same Old Effective Defense

Orlando City’s defense has only allowed 37 goals this season — which is good enough to tie for sixth place in the Eastern Conference. On the flip side, Montreal has only scored 30 goals so far — which is only better than Toronto at 24 goals. Montreal has a goal differential of -15.If the Lions play their normally solid defense in front of the outstanding goalkeeping of Pedro Gallese, Montreal should not get too many opportunities to score. There’s no doubt that we will see Robin Jansson and Rodrigo Schlegel paired together with Rafael Santos on the left and either Dagur Dan — or Michael Halliday as I suggested — on the right. Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena can stop most attacks before they get to the back line. If Orlando City plays defense as well as the club did against Miami, things should be fine.

That is what I will be looking for this Saturday as the Lions take on the boys from North of the border. Vamos Orlando!

Continue Reading

Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/28/23

Ajax is reportedly scouting Facundo Torres, Orlando Pride focus on upcoming matches, Houston Dynamo win U.S. Open Cup, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope this work week has gone smoothly for you as we get ready to bid farewell to September. It’s been a hectic week for me, but I started and then promptly devoured all of Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros. It was a nice read, albeit a bit intense at times. I’m not sure what I’ll read next as most of my reading list is packed up for a move, but if you have any recommendations then let me know in the comments below. Let’s dive into today’s links!

Ajax Reportedly Interested in Facundo Torres

Orlando City forward Facundo Torres has reportedly garnered the interest of Dutch club Ajax according to Fabrizio Romano.

It’s not too surprising that Ajax, which currently sits in 14th in the Eredivisie with just seven goals from five games, has scouts keeping tabs on Torres. The 23-year-old has scored 12 goals this season, powering Orlando to second in the Eastern Conference. It wouldn’t be the first time Torres has received attention from European clubs and likely won’t be the last as he continues to impress with the Lions

Orlando Pride Focus During Playoff Push

The Orlando Pride are back in action on Monday for a crucial road match with Angel City FC. Both teams have 25 points this season, one point from the sixth and final playoff spot currently held by the Washington Spirit. It will be the first of three remaining games for the Pride this season, with matches against fellow playoff hopefuls Racing Louisville and the Houston Dash set for later in October. As a result, there’s not much margin for error if the Pride wish to make the playoffs and Kylie Strom talked about how the team is focused for these games.

MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs Begin This Weekend

The first round of the MLS NEXT Pro playoffs kicks off this weekend with six matches that can all be watched on MLS Season Pass. Unlike last year, Orlando City B will be taking part and is set to face off with Columbus Crew 2 on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. Although the Young Lions have struggled on the road against Columbus, Jack Lynn and Shak Mohammed can make things difficult for the hosts. Hopefully we’ll see OCB make Columbus regret its choice of opponent in the postseason. I like the wrinkle and mind games to the playoffs the new rule gave and am interested to see which of the lower seeds plays with a chip on their shoulder. The playoffs begin on Friday when Sporting Kansas City II hosts Austin FC II in a battle between the third and fourth seeds of the Western Conference.

Houston Dynamo Win U.S. Open Cup

The Houston Dynamo have lifted the U.S. Open Cup trophy after winning 2-1 on the road against Inter Miami. A pair of goals in the first half were enough for Houston to win its second U.S. Open Cup title after also winning in 2018. A goal in stoppage time from Josef Martinez made things interesting, but the Dynamo defense did well to secure the win and deny Miami its second tournament title this year. It was a strong end to a solid tournament campaign from the Dynamo, as they beat four MLS sides before taking down Miami in the final.

Albertin Montoya Hired as Bay FC Head Coach

Ahead of its inaugural NWSL season next year, Bay FC named Albertin Montoya as the club’s first head coach. Montoya, who has lived in California for most of his life, served as the interim coach for the Washington Spirit in 2022 and also coached the U.S. U-17 women’s national team in 2011. Bay FC General Manager Lucy Rushton spoke on how Montoya’s name came up often while the club searched for a head coach, as well as how his skill at developing players will help build the club’s foundation.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja called for the supporters to continue filling Exploria Stadium and pushing the Lions forward for the team’s remaining home games this season.
  • St. Louis City midfielder Njabulo Blom won MLS Goal of the Week for his winner against Minnesota United. It was also the 23-year-old’s first professional goal.

That’s all I have for you today. Have a wonderful Thursday and rest of your week!

Continue Reading