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

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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.

Starters

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.

Substitutes

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

PlayerVotes
Nani114
Robin Jansson5
João Moutinho101
Sebas Mendez46
Other2

Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/12/24

Leagues Cup forgets Orlando’s U.S. Open Cup win, USMNT U-23 loses to Japan, NWSL expansion options, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. The USMNT plays tonight in Orlando, and I hope that you have tickets. If not, we can still watch as we wait for the Orlando City and Orlando Pride matches this Saturday. On a personal note, this Friday will mark my ninth anniversary with The Mane Land. It’s been a heck of a ride, and I’m glad you’ve been there with us. Here’s to many more years to come. Let’s get to the links.

Leagues Cup Forgets Orlando’s U.S. Open Cup Win

Orlando City is playing in the Leagues Cup starting at the end of July and here’s a nice guide to Orlando’s group for the tournament. Of course, the Leagues Cup organizers want you to be pumped so that you watch and buy tickets. I think that is something we should do simply to support the club. However, I don’t think they went about promoting the competition in quite the right way. In a tweet that has since been deleted, the tournament’s social media team stated the Leagues Cup would be Orlando’s chance to win its first trophy. Did you catch the mistake? Taylor Twellman did.

Good on you, Taylor. Facundo Torres was indeed brilliant in that match, as was Benji Michel. Of course, there were others that caught the faux pas as well.

I think we should also be mentioning the USL Championships, but what do I know? Evidently, more than the Leagues Cup’s social media team.

USMNT to Honor Pulse Victims

There’s plenty of fake, corporate shows of support for Pride Month , but in general I think that the USMNT and USWNT have done a good job of being legitimate allies to the LGBTQIA+ community. Tonight, the USMNT will play a friendly against Brazil at Camping World Stadium on the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting. The players will be wearing Pride jerseys to honor those who lost their lives so senselessly eight years ago.

In terms of the game, the USMNT will be without Josh Sargent for the match, and Tyler Adams will only get limited minutes if he plays, as both are coming back from injuries. Get well before the Copa America, lads.

Lions on International Duty

The United States U-23 Men’s National Team lost 2-0 to Japan in its final friendly match before the Olympics. Orlando City’s Duncan McGuire found himself on a bit of an island up top as the U.S. had difficulty moving the ball through the midfield. Hopefully, the U.S. got such play out of its system heading into the Olympics.

OCB’s Wilfredo Rivera made the most of his time playing in Puerto Rico’s World Cup qualifier against Anguilla, scoring a brace in the 8-0 victory. This win comes after a scoreless draw with El Salvador last week and Puerto Rico’s remaining group games during this round of qualifying will be next June.

Exploring NWSL Expansion Options

The NWSL will be expanding to 16 teams in 2026 with many cities vying for the next franchise. The leaders include Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Minneapolis. Atlanta, Denver, and Jacksonville are potential choices as well. If it was to be given to either Atlanta or Jacksonville they would be regional rivals for the Orlando Pride. The league is expected to make a decision by the fourth quarter of 2024.

Free Kicks

  • Congratulations to the U-15 United States Women’s National Team, which won 4-0 over Germany.
  • Did you ever have one of those dreams that was a little scary, but also absolutely hilarious? This preview of Inter Miami’s new mascot is a bit like that. To misquote Jaws: “Ever seen an Inter Miami mascot’s eyes, Chief? He’s got lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll’s eyes.”
  • The Cayman Islands Men’s National Football Team forfeited its match against Cuba because many of its players are on visas in the United States. If those players were to travel to Cuba, the U.S. may have canceled those visas due to travel restrictions.
  • This is one of the most ridiculous no-calls I’ve ever seen. India got royally hosed.

That will do it for today. Check back as we get you ready for the Orlando City and Orlando Pride matches this Saturday night. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/11/24

Julie Doyle up for Goal of the Week, scouting Brazil ahead of USMNT match, Valencia fans convicted of racial abuse, and more.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Happy Tuesday, everyone. After a brief break, Orlando City will be back in action when it takes on LAFC at home on Saturday. The Orlando Pride will visit a struggling North Carolina Courage side on the same day, while Orlando City B will have an oddly placed Thursday match against Chattanooga FC. With such a busy week ahead of us, it’s little surprise that we have a lot to talk over this morning. Let’s get into it.

Julie Doyle Up for Goal of the Week

Pride forward Julie Doyle has been nominated for NWSL Goal of the Week for her strike against the San Diego Wave during Friday’s 1-1 draw. Doyle opened the scoring in the 36th minute with an extremely well taken goal that came from a Barbra Banda assist. The Zambian forward made a run down the right wing and crossed for Doyle, but the ball was a little behind her and the chance looked to have gone. It hadn’t though, because Doyle contorted her body, hung out a foot, and let the momentum from the ball carry it into the back of San Diego’s net. Make sure you go vote for her to win!

Brazil Scouting Report

The United States Men’s National Team will play its final friendly before Copa America Wednesday night at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. The idea of any USMNT game is slightly nauseating after the Yanks were throttled 5-1 by Colombia on Saturday, but the fact that they’ll square off against a loaded Brazil side means things aren’t going to be any easier. While Brazil has struggled early in World Cup qualifying, it will likely run out a front three of Rodrygo, Vinicius Jr., and Raphina that’s capable of causing plenty of damage. Brazil prefers to control the ball and build from the back with short passing movements, but has no qualms about ceding possession and breaking on the counter, something that caused no shortage of issues for the U.S. against Colombia.

Valencia Fans Convicted of Racial Abuse

A trio of Valencia fans will serve eight months in prison after being convicted of racially abusing Vinicius Jr. Additionally, they are barred from entering soccer stadiums for two years and will pay for court proceedings. The convictions are the first for racism in professional soccer in Spain, and a case was opened after the fans made monkey noises and gestures during a game in May of 2023. The Brazilian forward in particular has faced racial abuse during his time playing in Spain, but he’s far from the only player, as the trial for a fan accused of abusing Inaki Williams during a match in 2020 has still yet to even begin.

The Soccer Tournament Concludes

The Soccer Tournament wrapped up Monday night with a pair of engrossing championship matches. In the women’s bracket, US Women defeated the North Carolina Courage 6-3, with Talia Dellapuerta scoring the winning goal. US Women featured United States Women’s National Team greats Heather O’Reilly and Ali Kreiger, and the team won the first women’s edition of the tournament and the $1 million prize that comes with it.

On the men’s side, former Orlando City player Nani and his team, Nani FC, fell to La Bombonera, which scored mere minutes into the match and never looked back on its way to a convincing 4-0 win. La Bombonera becomes the second team to win it all following Newtown Pride FC’s victory in last year’s inaugural tournament.

Free Kicks


That’s all I have for you this morning. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/10/24

Facundo Torres and Cesar Araujo won’t play for Uruguay in Copa America, Pride and OCB draw, USMNT drilled by Colombia, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Alex Corrie

Hello, Mane Landers! I hope all is well down in Florida. I was busy at Under Armour all weekend and managing the broadcast operations for the NISA league’s matches last night. The Lions were off this weekend, but we had the Orlando Pride and OCB in action. We’ve got plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links. 

Torres and Araujo Not On Uruguay Squad for Copa America

Uruguay National Team manager Marcelo Bielsa confirmed his roster for the 2024 Copa America over the weekend, and Orlando City’s Facundo Torres and Cesar Araujo didn’t make the final roster.

Torres and Araujo played briefly in the second half in Uruguay’s 4-0 win over Mexico in a friendly match last week. Uruguay will now prepare for its upcoming group stage matches in the Copa America against Panama, Bolivia, and the United States. Torres and Araujo will be back with Orlando City this week to get ready for their upcoming matchup against LAFC on Saturday.

Orlando Pride, San Diego Wave Play to 1-1 Draw

The Orlando Pride drew 1-1 Friday against the San Diego Wave at Snapdragon Stadium and saw their NWSL record win streak end at eight matches. Julie Doyle scored the opener for the Pride, but the Wave were able to grab an equalizer in the second half as both sides got a point. The Pride remains unbeaten this season in the NWSL. After this weekend’s results across the league, Orlando and the Kansas City Current are tied with 28 points, but Kansas City is in first on goal differential. The Pride will be on the road again this weekend to take on the North Carolina Courage Saturday.

OCB Draws at Home vs. Carolina Core FC, Snags Shootout Point

On Friday, Orlando City B drew 2-2 against Carolina Core FC at Osceola County Stadium. The Young Lions were off to a poor start early in the match, trailing 2-0 in the first half. In the second half, OCB got things back on track with goals from Alex Freeman and Imanol Almaguer to tie the match. It went to penalties after finishing tied. OCB won the extra point with a 6-5 shootout win over Carolina. That result puts the Young Lions back in the playoff hunt in seventh in the Eastern Conference with 18 points. OCB will be back in action Thursday at home against Chattanooga FC.

Colombia Dominates USMNT in Friendly Action

The U.S. Men’s National Team fell 5-1 to Colombia Saturday at FedEx Field and suffered its heaviest defeat under Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. It wasn’t good from the start as the USMNT conceded two goals in the first 19 minutes of the match in the first half. Tim Weah pulled one back for the U.S. before Colombia added three more goals towards the end of the second half to seal the win. Colombia is on a seven-match winning streak and is unbeaten in 22 matches. The last time the USMNT gave up this many goals was in the 2009 Gold Cup final in a 5-0 defeat to Mexico. The U.S. needs to improve fast with its Copa America opener less than two weeks from now. It will be a quick turnaround for the Americans as they take on Brazil Wednesday at Camping World Stadium in their final friendly match before Copa America starts.

Free Kicks

  • FC Dallas has announced the departure of Head Coach Nico Estevez. Assistant Coach Peter Luccin will lead the team on an interim basis while the club begins its search for a new head coach. FC Dallas is 13th in the Western Conference with 14 points.
  • The Chicago Red Stars broke an NWSL attendance record in their match over the weekend as 35,038 fans showed up at Wrigley Field, but the Red Stars lost 2-1 to Bay FC.
  • Wrexham co-owner Rob McElhenney is renewing his efforts to lure former Real Madrid star Gareth Bale out of retirement to join the club. He also stated that the club’s offer is still on the table.
  • In Jesse Marsch’s second match as Canada’s head coach, Canada held France to a scoreless draw in a friendly match on Sunday.

That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Monday and I’ll see you next time.

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