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

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Orlando City is unbeaten in four straight, although you might not know that if you judged the team solely by fan reaction on social media after last night’s 1-1 home draw vs. Atlanta United. Hyperbolic statements about the team playing its worst game under Oscar Pareja are neither accurate, nor fair. The fact is that the Lions created sufficient chances to easily blow Atlanta United off the field but simply struggled to convert them, and still would have won if not for a careless and unnecessary turnover in the 92nd minute. Missed chances happen to every team in soccer. Yes, even Bayern Munich (once in a while).

Playing five matches in 15 days, there’s going to be a lack of sharpness somewhere and so it was with the final ball on Saturday night, even though chance creation wasn’t an issue. On the other end, Orlando didn’t give Atlanta United many opportunities in the penalty area, but the Five Stripes were able to finish one of them and that was enough to get a wildly undeserved result.

Let’s get to the individual performances.

Starters

GK, Pedro Gallese, 7 — El Pulpo could do nothing about Adam Jahn’s powerful header into the bottom corner from close range. It was textbook. It was hit squarely, accurately, with power, and he bounced it right in front of the goal line to add to the difficulty. Gallese made five saves and none of them looked particularly difficult because his positioning was good. He did make one unconventional save on a shot from distance through traffic that he didn’t appear to see until the last second, but he had a strong hand and managed to knock the rebound out of a dangerous area. He did well to get his hand to a high cross to throw off the back-side attacker on a set piece in the 22nd minute. His passing accuracy of 58.8% suffered from Atlanta forcing him to go long more often than usual.

D, Kamal Miller, 5 — Up until the 92nd minute, the Canadian had a solid, if unspectacular match. He was able to get forward into the attack more often than he did on Wednesday, but still finished without a single cross and was only 1/4 on long balls. His passing accuracy of 76% wasn’t great and that included a pass right to Emerson Hyndman in the second minute of stoppage time that started the sequence for the tying goal. It’s unclear why Miller went up the middle in that situation with his teammates pointing him left, toward the sideline. Miller was also on the wrong side of the end of that play, failing to deal with Jahn. He was aware of Jahn and ran with him, but he didn’t pressure him before the jump to disrupt the timing or even jump himself. Yes, he was culpable in two ways on the tying goal but the draw isn’t solely on Miller, who contributed a tackle, three interceptions, a clearance, and a team-high six aerials won.

D, Robin Jansson, 7 — With a 92% passing rate, 6/7 long ball accuracy, six clearances, four interceptions, and a tackle, the beefy Swede was his usual self. He did combine with Antonio Carlos to get beat by Jahn in the 81st minute for a good scoring chance as the Atlanta striker split the Orlando center backs and was first to the ball, but Gallese was in position to save it.

D, Antonio Carlos, 6 — The defender passed at just an 80.7% rate, which is a bit below his usual standard, but he did win three aerials and contributed a tackle, two interceptions, and four clearances. He allowed himself to get pulled out of position just after halftime, leading to a scoring chance for Cubo Torres when his teammates failed to cover him positionally, and he have done better with a free header on a set piece in the 40th minute, but he pushed the shot wide.

D, Ruan, 6 — One thing Ruan continues to show is that for all the speed and quick movement he provides, he’s a terrible shooter and too many of his crosses don’t reach the target. If he can improve either of those, he’ll be a phenomenal right back. His 87.5% passing wasn’t bad last night, nor was his long ball accuracy (3/4), but he managed to connect on only one of four crosses and he missed the target badly from a good position in the 95th minute with the game on his foot. His two tackles and three interceptions were helpful, and he did well to clean up messes defensively all night, until the 92nd minute, when he allowed Jake Mulraney too much time and space to send in a cross on the tying goal. He turned down an opportunity to take on a defender on the sideline that could have set up a potential 2-v-1 break to seal the game late, instead opting to shield the ball so it could slowly roll out for a throw-in. That was an ultra-conservative move in a relatively low-risk and supremely high-reward situation and fatigue may have played a role in that decision.

MF, Uri Rosell, 7.5 (MotM) — I don’t know how Uri does it, but for the fifth time in 15 days, the Spaniard put in a phenomenal blue collar shift. He led all Lions with eight tackles to go along with three interceptions, a clearance, and a blocked shot. He was a 90% passer who completed nine of his 10 long balls. He helped steer Atlanta’s attack to the wide areas and kept the Five Stripes from posing any danger up the middle. I’m breaking my three-way tie in final scoring and giving my Man of the Match to a guy who simply doesn’t get enough credit for Orlando City’s success this season.

MF, Sebas Mendez, 5 — Mendez had a bit of a rough night in terms of providing his usual quality. He flubbed his lines badly on his first two shots — wasting a good cross in space in the fourth minute by popping up his shot badly and scuffing his second opportunity around the half-hour mark. He would have scored on his third shot if not for a great save by Brad Guzan in the 34th minute. He committed five fouls — picking up a yellow for persistent infringement — and some of those were simply unnecessary, like the one that set up a dangerous Atlanta free kick in just the eighth minute. But he also did a lot well, passing at a 97% rate and getting into those three good scoring positions in the first place, recording two tackles, an interception and a key pass, and earning two free kicks.

MF, Chris Mueller, 7.5 — Cash was a threat throughout the first half, more with his passing than his shooting. Although his second half wasn’t as good, that’s true of the entire team. His passing was good (93.1%) and he created two scoring chances, but it seemed like more than that. His outside-in cross for a Benji Michel scoring chance was sublime and deserved to be an assist. He scuffed his shot a bit in the 17th minute but still forced a save by Guzan. He fired two shots (one on target), completed three dribbles, and drew four free kicks — one of which should have been allowed to play on when Daryl Dike was entering the box in full control of the ball. He made one interception and one tackle, and worked with Dike and Michel to force several bad balls from Guzan.

MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 7 — It was a deceptively quiet night for the Uruguayan. He made a lot of small plays all night that combined together to form a good overall performance. He made four tackles and two interceptions to win the ball back, created two good scoring chances, and finished with 80% passing (5/6 on long balls, 1/2 on crosses). But he also made a lot of intricate little plays to retain possession when put into a bad spot by his teammates, with some nifty little outside-in flicks between two onrushing defenders to keep the play alive. It’s fun watching Pereyra play the game.

MF, Benji Michel, 7.5 — My triumvirate of 7.5 scores finishes with Michel. Although rewarded by our readers for scoring a goal Wednesday night in an otherwise objectively poor overall performance, it’s only fair to call out how good he was last night despite not really knowing much about the goal he scored in first-half stoppage time until the ball was right on top of him. That’s not to say that he simply “got hit with the ball,” which is perhaps how I described it last night, because I’ve had time to watch the play several more times and it’s clear he directed it intentionally and well played for doing so, even though it might have gone in off him anyway. Good reflexes there by Michel. He was also an 85% passer, created three scoring chances, and made a clearance on the defensive end. The only blemish on his night was getting only one of his four shot attempts on frame, because he was set up nicely multiple times. One of those hit the crossbar and I’m not convinced he wasn’t fouled while he was shooting. There were a couple he should have done better with and a couple opportunities where no shot came because he showed a bit too much of the ball or was closed down from behind. He had three unstable touches, which is six fewer than Wednesday, so that’s an improvement. His overall touch was better, but he was still dispossessed three times, so he must improve shielding the ball from defenders.

F, Daryl Dike, 6 — The big man didn’t get either of his shots on target but one still went in because he smashed it right at Michel. His movement was good and he occupied defenders well. But the night was marred by five unstable touches to lead all Lions and he was dispossessed twice and his 56.4% passing, albeit only on 11 attempts. He chipped in one tackle and helped pressure Guzan into mistakes all night.

Substitutes

MF, Andres Perea (57’), 5 — Perea came on for Dike, pushing Michel up into the striker role. He finished with a tackle and a blocked shot but completed just four of his six passes (66.7%). The youngster had a moment or two of hesitation, which broke down some promising attacks, as Pereyra sent one through ball to where he should have gone but he didn’t read the play correctly and stopped at the top of the area.

F, Tesho Akindele (72’), 4.5 — He wasn’t on the pitch that long, but Akindele contributed no shot attempts or key passes and had three unstable touches, completing just three of his five passes and managing only 10 total touches. I think he was on the field long enough to contribute more than that.

MF, Nani (72’), 6.5 — The captain managed 15 touches in the same amount of time on the pitch as Akindele and he also created a scoring chance and hit the post on a gorgeous free kick that was inches from putting the game away in the 80th minute. His pass to Ruan in the 95th minute should have turned into an assist but the right back missed the target. His passing rate wasn’t great (72.7%) but he was able to keep the ball out of harm’s way even when he didn’t connect and a couple of those were on some of his younger teammates for not going where he expected them to be. He contributed an interception as well.

MF, Junior Urso (72’), 6 — The Bear did his thing, with 85.7% passing and two tackles in his time on the pitch. He had one shot on target but had to go up high for a bouncing ball and he didn’t get all of it, allowing the defense time to swoop in and clear it off the line before it could go in after Nani’s free kick hit the woodwork.

D, Kyle Smith (84’), N/A — Kyle came on as the team shifted to five at the back but wasn’t on the field long enough to truly grade. He had only four touches but all four ended up as passes and all of them were complete. The switch to five at the back was actually working quite well in helping the Lions see out the final moments until Miller made his wayward pass.


That’s how I saw the individual performances in a draw that felt more like a loss to fans and the players alike. Vote for your Man of the Match in the poll below and let us know where your opinion differs.

Polling Closed

PlayerVotes
Pedro Gallese3
Robin Jansson4
Uri Rosell24
Chris Mueller12
Mauricio Pereyra1
Benji Michel6
Other5

Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/24/24

Orlando City and Orlando Pride power rankings, USMNT player news, USWNT will host Costa Rica, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. It’s that time of the week for some tasty links. Two seven-point weekends for Orlando’s soccer teams is nothing to sneeze at, unlike the pollen that coats my hometown of Tallahassee. It’s the time of the year that I make my money back with the unlimited car wash next to my work. Enough with my weather-related car issues, let’s get to the links.

Lions Move Up (and Down) in Power Rankings

There’s nothing that shows the value of “power rankings” better than when you can compare two different ranking lists for the same week for any given club. We all know Orlando City is undefeated in its last four matches thanks to the late heroics of Ivan Angulo to draw CF Montreal over the weekend. But, did you know that was both good and bad?

In ESPN‘s MLS power rankings, Orlando City dropped a spot from 16th to 17th despite “treading water” with a point on the road in Montreal. Meanwhile, the Lions roared ahead three spots from 21st to 18th in MLSsoccer.com’s power rankings. So, do you like that Orlando is 17th in the ESPN piece despite the drop? Or do you prefer the positivity of a three-spot jump to 18th in the MLSSoccer.com rankings?

Orlando Pride Rise in Power Rankings

Forget everything I wrote up there regarding power rankings — at least as far as the Orlando Pride are concerned. After starting the season with three draws, the Pride now have two wins in a row. As such, ESPN moved the Pride up three spots from eighth to fifth in its NWSL power rankings. Their move up the list is entirely deserved and the writer was correct in their assessment. Of course, I’m kidding but it’s still nice to see the Pride get recognized for their results. Now, we just need the Pride to continue the winning streak.

Keeping Up With USMNT Players Abroad

As we shared yesterday, Sergino Dest will likely miss this summer’s Copa America thanks to a knee injury suffered during PSV Eindhoven training. That means the USMNT has a right back situation to address and there are quite a few well known candidates to step in for Dest.

Meanwhile, Weston McKennie has reportedly rejected Juventus’ latest extension offer. I can understand his decision given it doesn’t include any additional salary. McKennie has been very good for Juve, with 10 assists on the season. He’s not the only American making a difference, as Tim Weah provided the assist on Arkadiusz Milik’s goal to send Juventus to the Coppa Italia final.

USWNT Olympic Send-Off Match

The United States Women’s National Team will play a match against Costa Rica at Audi Field on July 16. It will be the final match for the USWNT prior to the Olympics that start nine days later against Zambia. New coach Emma Hayes will join the team on June 1, which isn’t a ton of time before the Olympics start, but she has been a part of the process for months.

Free Kicks

  • The New England Revolution have acquired veteran defender Xavier Arreaga from the Seattle Sounders for a 2025 international roster slot, and up to $75,000 in General Allocation Money depending on performance.
  • Inter Miami’s Jordi Alba will be out for several weeks due to a hamstring injury. Fortunately, he is expected to be back in time for the match against Orlando City on May 15. Where did I put the sarcasm font?

That will do it for today. Check back as we get you ready for the Pride’s match against the Washington Spirit this Friday, and Orlando City’s match against Toronto FC on Saturday. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/23/24

Ivan Angulo makes Team of the Matchday bench, Americans in action, Sergino Dest to miss Copa America, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Tuesday, everyone! It was an excellent weekend for Orlando’s soccer teams, as the three sides took seven of the nine points on offer. There’s no rest for the wicked this week as the Orlando Pride travel to play the Washington Spirit on Friday, Orlando City hosts Toronto FC on Saturday, and Orlando City B finishes things up at home against Toronto FC II on Sunday. Let’s take a look at today’s links.

Ivan Angulo Earns Recognition

Ivan Angulo has been named to the bench of the latest edition of the MLS Team of the Matchday. The Colombian got the start on Saturday up in Montreal, and had a good game, going the distance and completing 82% of his passes and putting one of his two shots on target. That shot was an important one, as it gave the Lions a late equalizer and helped them salvage a valuable point on the road. Sean Rollins gave him a grade of 6 in his player grades from the match, a rating that likely would have been higher had Martin Ojeda’s pass been accurate enough to allow Angulo to grab a possible winner just a few minutes after he equalized. Here’s hoping he keeps up the good work!

Americans in Midweek Action

There are a number of Americans taking part in big games this week, and the good people over at Stars and Stripes FC have you covered with the whole rundown. First up, Weston McKennie, Tim Weah, and Juventus will try to advance to the Coppa Italia final this afternoon, as they enter the second leg of the semifinal against Lazio with a 2-0 lead on aggregate. Tomorrow sees Monaco and Folarin Balogun meet Lille in Ligue 1 action, while Chris Richards and Crystal Palace host Newcastle United in the Premier League. Things wrap up on Friday in Serie B when Gianluca Busio, Tanner Tessman, and third-place Venezia face Cremonese as they try to overtake Como and finish in one of Serie B’s two guaranteed promotion places.

Sergino Dest Sidelined Long Term

Following up on a story from yesterday’s Lion Links, The Athletic is reporting that the knee injury suffered by Sergino Dest will keep him out of Copa America, and sideline him for the rest of the year. That would be a big blow for the United States Men’s National Team, as Dest has been the nailed-on starter at right back since winning a place in the team during the qualifying cycle for the 2022 World Cup. The Yanks aren’t without options at the position, as Joe Scally could step in for Dest, or Gregg Berhalter could try deploying Weah there, but neither of the two possesses Dest’s level of offensive threat.

Inter Milan Wins Serie A

Inter Milan dispatched rival AC Milan 2-1 guaranteed that Inter will win its 20th Serie A title in club history. Fikayo Tomori’s goal in the 80th minute was the closest Christian Pulisic and Yunus Musah’s club could get to leveling the score, and Inter is now a whopping 17 points clear of AC Milan with five games left to play. Inter has been imperious on its way to a 20th Scudetto, scoring the most goals in the league while also conceding the fewest and losing only once this season.

Free Kicks

  • The Orlando Pride and Orlando City hosted a clean-up effort in honor of Earth Day on Monday.

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

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Player Grades and Man of the Match

How did your favorite Lions perform in Orlando City’s 2-2 draw with CF Montreal?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City / Mark Thor

Orlando City scored in second-half injury time for the second consecutive weekend to claim points. However, this time it was an equalizer as the Lions drew CF Montreal 2-2 north of the border. The Lions ended their two-game road trip with four points and extended their points streak to four games after dropping three straight. It’s an improvement as they look to climb up the Eastern Conference standings.

Here’s how I saw the individual performances in the draw.

Starters

GK, Pedro Gallese, 5.5 — Gallese conceded a pair of goals in this game, though neither were necessarily his fault. The first was a breakaway after Robin Jansson kept Mason Toye onside and the second was blocked wide, but Kyle Smith was caught flat-footed. However, he did concede twice while saving three of Montreal’s five shots on target. Additionally, the Lions’ goalkeeper completed 55.6% of his 27 passes, including eight of his 20 long balls.

D, Kyle Smith, 5.5 — Smith had a solid game other than one specific play. The left back had a team-high 86 touches and completed 78.3% of his 60 passes, including five of his 12 long balls. Defensively, he recorded two tackles, two clearances, an interception, and a blocked shot. Unfortunately, his most impactful play was getting caught watching on a Gallese block while Ariel Lassiter beat him to the rebound to give the hosts a late lead. That play lowers his grade for this otherwise quality performance.

D, Robin Jansson, 5.5 — Similar to Smith, Jansson had a solid game apart from one play. He had 72 touches and completed 79.7% of his 59 passes, including a key pass and three of his 14 long balls. He added a tackle, an interception, a blocked shot, and a team-high seven clearances to his stat sheet. But his failure to step up in the 16th minute enabled Toye to get behind the back line and score the opening goal, lowering his grade.

D, David Brekalo, 6 — Brekalo has proven himself to be the first-choice partner for Jansson and he was arguably the better center back in Montreal. The Slovenian international had 53 touches and completed 85.1% of his 47 passes, including two of his five long balls. The defender recorded two tackles, an interception, and three clearances defensively in a strong performance.

D, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 6 — Thorhallsson was in his usual right back position for this game, playing 90 minutes and recording 44 touches. He completed 82.8% of his 29 passes, but only one of his four long balls and neither of his two crosses. He cleared the ball twice and didn’t really get into the attack, but was solid in his defensive duties.

MF, Wilder Cartagena, 6.5 (MotM) — This was possibly Cartagena’s best performance of the season. His 85 touches were second-most on the team and he completed 76.5% of his team-high 68 passes, including a key pass and two of his six long balls. It was his shielding of Nathan Saliba and strong pass forward for Duncan McGuire that started the last goal, though he didn’t get an assist. The defensive midfielder was also active defensively with five tackles and three interceptions, and he won a pair of aerial duels. His overall performance earns him my Man of the Match.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 6.5 — Araujo had a similar performance to Cartagena, but fewer touches and more accurate passing. He recorded 55 touches and completed 93.9% of his 49 passes, including a key pass. He was less active than his partner defensively, recording three tackles, and was booked in the 63rd minute.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 6 — Angulo had one of his better performances in this one, recording 48 touches and completing 82.1% of his 39 passes. His biggest impact on the game came two minutes into second-half stoppage time, when he connected with an excellent Martin Ojeda cross to even the game at 2-2. He nearly scored a winner five minutes later, but the pass from Ojeda was just a bit too far for him. His goal was one of his two shots and the only one on target.

MF, Nico Lodeiro, 6 — Lodeiro’s 45 touches were the fewest of the Orlando City midfield, but he did the most with them. The playmaker completed 91.4% of his 35 passes, including a key pass, but couldn’t connect on his long ball or either of his two crosses. He was also caught offside and dispossessed twice before being replaced by Ojeda in the 77th minute.

MF, Facundo Torres, 6 — Torres’ 65 touches were the most in the Lions’ midfield and the fourth most on the team. He completed 83.7% of his 49 passes, but didn’t connect on his two crosses or four long balls. The attacker took three shots and put one on target. In the 22nd minute, the midfielder stepped up and buried his second penalty of the season and ninth as a Lion, continuing her perfect record from the spot.

F, Luis Muriel, 6 — While Oscar Pareja had previously been starting Muriel behind McGuire, the forward got the start alone up top for the second consecutive game. He had 34 touches and completed 68.4% of his 19 passes, including his lone long ball but neither of his two crosses. His biggest impact on the game came in the 20th minute, when he tipped the ball past Montreal goalkeeper Jonathan Sirois, drawing the penalty that resulted in the first equalizer. He also had a shot of his own, but it was off target.

Substitutes

F, Duncan McGuire (63’), 6 — McGuire came on in the 63rd minute for Muriel. He had 16 touches in 27 minutes, completing eight of his 10 passes (80%) with a key pass. His lone shot came in the 90th minute, when Jansson headed the ball over to him and he probably should’ve equalized, but his volley was just wide. The striker also won three aerial duels.

MF, Martin Ojeda (77’), 6.5 — Ojeda came on in the 77th minute for Lodeiro and, similar to Lodeiro last week, made a big difference. He had 15 touches and completed four of his six passes (66.7%), including a key pass. Two minutes into second-half injury time, his excellent cross found Angulo, who touched it in for the equalizer. Five minutes later, he had another great cross that nearly found Angulo for the winner, but was just out of his reach.

D, Rafael Santos (85’), 6 — Santos came on in the 85th minute for Torres as the Lions looked to see out a point. He had nine touches and completed two of his three passes (66.7%), but didn’t connect on his cross or long ball. Coming on to assure the defense, Santos did his job as he recorded a tackle, an interception, and two clearances.


This is how I saw Orlando City’s 2-2 draw with CF Montreal. Let us know how you saw the game and don’t forget to vote for your Man of the Match.

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