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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Sporting Kansas City: Player Grades and Man of the Match



Orlando City made history as they’ve now gone seven straight games without a loss. That’s the highest number of consecutive games claiming points since joining MLS in 2015. Two goals in three minutes by Tesho Akindele and Benji Michel were enough to lift the Lions to the 2-1 win over Sporting Kansas City.

Here’s what I thought of the individual performances from Orlando City.


GK, Pedro Gallese, 6 — It was a painful night for Pedro Gallese as he was down twice injured but Orlando City’s number one came up big again. The Kansas City goal wasn’t his fault and he made two saves that might’ve been going in. The first was a cross that nearly went in. While it’s difficult to tell how close it would’ve been, Gallese tipped it onto the crossbar, ensuring nothing came of it. He made his first official save in the 88th minute when Gerso Fernandes shot from distance. It was on target but Gallese was up to the task.

D, Kyle Smith, 4.5 — It was a rough night for Kyle Smith, who got the start with Joao Moutinho still out. Smith was beaten to the back post by Johnny Russell for Sporting’s goal and was caught too far up field later on, when the hosts were ruled offside. Fortunately for the Lions, his second big mistake didn’t cost the team two points.

D, Robin Jansson, 6  — Jansson was strong at center back in this game. Sporting KC had 26 shots but only two of those shots were on target. That’s largely because the center backs were not allowing good positions from which to shoot. Statistically, Jansson had three interceptions and three clearances but it was the lack of good opportunities for the opposition that earned him a solid grade.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 6 — Rodrigo Schlegel got a rare start for the Lions, taking the spot of Antonio Carlos. Similar to Jansson, Schlegel didn’t give much to the opposition. He was credited with three clearances and completed 86% of his 43 passes. Overall, it was a satisfactory night for Schlegel who contributed to the Lions’ win.

D, Ruan, 6.5 — Ruan is probably better known for his attacking help than his defensive play and he made an impact in this game, playing a nice ball through for Akindele’s opening goal. A quick one-two caught the speedster flat footed on one occasion, which could have resulted in a goal but the Lions survived. Other than that, he kept the opponents at bay and was better than Smith on the other side, matching Gerso’s speed down the wing.

MF, Benji Michel, 6 — While listed as a midfielder, Benji Michel tends to play higher up the field and scored the deciding goal for the Lions. Michel wasn’t involved that much in play, only touching the ball 23 times on the night. He only completed 73% of his 11 passes and was dispossessed once, despite his limited touches. However, his goal turned out to be the biggest moment in the game.

MF, Sebas Mendez, 5.5 — Sebas was the first man substituted for Orlando City, coming off for Mauricio Pereyra in the 62nd minute. While Mendez played pretty well defensively, his passing wasn’t quite where you’d want it to be to create an attack. He only completed 78% of his 41 passes and only two of his five long balls were accurate. You’d like to see more accuracy from your defensive midfielder leading to an attack. 

MF, Junior Urso, 6 — It was another strong night for Junior Urso and could’ve been a spectacular night if not for some misfortune. Urso was strong defensively, didn’t give up any fouls in dangerous areas, and completed 86% of his 36 passes. He nearly scored in the 84th minute from a lovely touch and volley but it hit Chris Mueller on its way to the goal. But overall, it was a solid night for the midfielder.

MF, Andres Perea, 5.5 — Andres Perea had 35 touches in this game and was lucky to not have a bigger impact. After Alan Pulido came on in the 65th minute, Perea committed a couple of fouls that could’ve been bookable offenses. A different referee might’ve created a difficult situation for the Lions but the attacking midfielder was fortunate and wasn’t booked on one of them. On the plus side, he did complete 90.5% of his 21 passes and was only dispossessed once.

MF, Nani, 6 — At times, Nani looked a little confused about where to play the ball but he also had one of the most influential plays of the game. His 38th minute pass through the air to Michel was perfectly timed and placed, resulting in the winning goal. He completed 67.9% of his 28 passes and didn’t give up possession of the ball. With quicker thinking, he might’ve had another assist but it was a solid performance overall.

F, Tesho Akindele, 6.5 (MotM) — As the target striker, the primary role is to score. Tesho had one shot in this game and scored the opening goal. It was a good finish as he drew the goalkeeper and directed it around him to give the Lions the lead. Additionally, Akindele drew two fouls in attacking areas, producing more chances for the Lions to extend their lead. He won two aerials and passed at a 90.9% rate on 11 attempts. Overall, it was a good night for a player that has fallen a bit off the radar for Oscar Pareja.


MF, Mauricio Pereyra (63’),  5.5 — Mauricio Pereyra is typically an attacking threat for the Lions but came in with a different role in this game. Up 2-1, SKC was on the attack, forcing Pereyra into a possessive and defensive role. He did well, completing most of his passes and was dispossessed once. He did have a shot on goal but it wasn’t very strong and didn’t threaten Tim Melia.

MF, Chris Mueller (70’), 5 — Chris Mueller has become well known for coming on and making things happen offensively. That wasn’t the case in this game as he only touched the ball nine times in the final 20 minutes of the game. He completed all five passes but didn’t make the impact that Pareja hoped for when he brought him on.

F, Daryl Dike (70’), 6 — As the game wound down, Daryl Dike did what he was brought on to do. He used his body well to shield defenders and was smart with where he took the ball. He probably should’ve won a couple of fouls in an attacking position but the referee refused to call the multiple shoves to his back.

D, Alex De John (79’), 6 — Alex De John only played the final minutes but did what he was brought on to do. Coming on late for Nani, he played well defensively and made a key interception that ended what could’ve been a dangerous chance for the hosts. He was credited with three clearances in the final minutes, helping the Lions secure the win.

That’s what I thought about the performances of Orlando City against Sporting Kansas City. How did you see the game? Vote in our Man of the Match poll below and let us know what you thought of the performances in the comment section.

Polling Closed

Tesho Akindele12
Benji Michel23
Pedro Gallese25

Orlando City

Orlando City at New York Red Bulls: Three Keys to Victory

What does Orlando City need to do to earn all three points on the road at Red Bull Arena this Saturday night?



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Orlando City is back on the road this Saturday with a match against the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ. The Lions have four results in the last four matches, but only one win. That needs to change if this team is going to be a serious contender once the playoffs come around. 

Orlando City defeated the Red Bulls 1-0 to begin the 2023 MLS regular season at Exploria Stadium. Now the Lions have a chance to sweep the Eastern Conference rival in the regular season with another victory. What does Orlando City need to do to get all three points on the road this weekend?

Take Advantage of Tired Legs

The Red Bulls are coming off a midweek away match against Inter Miami, and a flight back to New Jersey. That means that new Red Bulls skipper Tony Lesesne won’t have as much time to game plan as Oscar Pareja will with a full week between matches. It also means that there may be some tired legs on the Red Bulls’ side of the pitch.

If Orlando City can get through the first half with either the lead, or at least even on the scoreboard, it will be tougher for New York in the second half, especially once the hour mark hits. Use possession and passing to make the Red Bulls run as much as possible and then hit them with the fresh legs of Duncan McGuire to finish them off.

Score First, Score Second

We saw what happens when Orlando City doesn’t find a way to get a second goal in the last match against Atlanta United. They don’t call them the Cardiac Cats for nothing. The Lions must get the early lead to make New York chase the match, but they also need to get a second goal before the Red Bulls can get their first.

If Orlando City can go up by two goals, it will be demoralizing for a team that is playing twice in four days, and will have the tired legs mentioned above. It will also give the Lions the mental confidence to potentially get a third goal, as the club did against Inter Miami. Finishing the chances and putting the match to bed early is a big key to victory.

Keep a Clean Sheet

The Red Bulls haven’t scored a ton of goals this season, nor do they have any player lighting things up on the offensive side of the ball. Orlando City hasn’t earned a clean sheet since the April 29 match against the LA Galaxy. The Red Bulls are the type of opponent that could help the Lions solve that dilemma.

Doing so will mean Pedro Gallese must continue being one of the best keepers in MLS. Many of the goals conceded this season are not on him — not all, but certainly many. Michael Halliday will still be with the USMNT U-20 squad this weekend and we might see Oscar Pareja employ three at the back in his absence. If so, it will be contingent upon whoever is lined up on the right to deal with John Tolkin when he presses up the pitch, which he will. 

If  the three center backs do their job, and if Cesar Araujo plays like he usually does, then the attack will likely come from the flanks. It is contingent upon the wingbacks to make sure they don’t neglect the defense, especially later in the match.

That is what I will be looking for this Saturday night as the Lions look for a fifth straight result. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/1/23

MLS All-Star voting is underway, midweek MLS results, Sevilla wins Europa League, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Welcome to June, Mane Landers! I hope May treated you well as we get ready for another month filled to the brim with soccer. The Florida summer is heating up, so make sure to stay hydrated out there as we break out the beach umbrellas and dust off the grills. But for now, let’s jump into today’s links!

MLS All-Star Voting Begins

Voting is underway for the 26 players who will be selected for the MLS All-Star Team this summer. Of those 26 players, 12 will be chosen from a combined vote from fans, media, and current players. Orlando City defensive midfielder Cesar Araujo was noted as a candidate who could make this year’s team. Personally, I think goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, center back Robin Jansson, and forward Ercan Kara have a real shot at playing in the All-Star Game if they keep up their form. This year’s MLS All-Star Game will take place against Arsenal in the nation’s capital, with D.C. United Head Coach Wayne Rooney at the helm.

MLS Midweek Action Brings Plenty of Goals

The Lions weren’t in action for this midweek round of games, but there was still plenty of soccer to enjoy from the other MLS teams. Atlanta United and the New England Revolution battled to a 3-3 draw at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Carles Gil and Bobby Wood gave the Revs a 2-0 lead heading into halftime. Atlanta then scored three times in the second half, only for Gil to find an equalizer in stoppage time. It wasn’t the only high-scoring game of the evening either, as the Columbus Crew won 3-2 over the Colorado Rapids thanks to a goal and two assists from midfielder Lucas Zelarayan. Elsewhere in the Eastern Conference, FC Cincinnati beat New York City FC 3-1 and D.C. United and CF Montreal played to a 2-2 draw. Orlando City’s next opponents, the New York Red Bulls, won 1-0 at Inter Miami.

Sevilla Wins Seventh Europa League Title

It took a penalty shootout to decide the winner of this year’s Europa League final, with Sevilla beating AS Roma in Budapest. It was the Spanish club’s seventh time lifting the Europa League trophy. This win salvaged a rough La Liga season for Sevilla and it will play in the Champions League next year. Paulo Dybala gave Roma the lead in the first half, but an own goal levelled things in the 55th minute. Chris Smalling nearly gave Roma the win in extra time, but his header hit the crossbar. It was Jose Mourinho’s first defeat in six European finals and Roma will aim to qualify for the Europa League again when it takes on Spezia in its final Serie A game of the season on Sunday.

More Teams Claim Spots in U-20 World Cup Quarterfinals

Host Argentina was bounced from the U-20 World Cup after a 2-0 loss to Nigeria in the U-20 World Cup. After a scoreless first half, Nigeria struck twice and will face either Ecuador or South Korea in the next round. The other South American nations in action fared a bit better than Argentina, with Brazil cruising past Tunisia, 4-1, in a match that included three goals in stoppage time, and Colombia beating Slovakia, 5-1. In a clash between European sides, Italy won 2-1 over England after Cesare Casadei scored from the spot in the 87th minute. In the quarterfinals, the U.S. will face the winner of today’s match between Gambia and Uruguay.

Free Kicks

  • St. Louis City midfielder Eduard Löwen won MLS Goal of the Matchday for his free kick goal against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

That’s all I have for today. I hope you all have a wonderful start to June!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/31/23

Nani will return to Exploria Stadium for celebrity match, Amanda Allen scores again for Canada, U-20 USMNT defeats New Zealand, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you down in Florida. There’s not much new with me up here in Chicago. Now that high school sports have finished up for the school year, I’ll be busy this summer working at Wrigley Field. There is plenty to get to today, so let’s get to the links.

Nani Will Return to Exploria Stadium for Celebrity Match

Former Lion captain Nani will return to Exploria Stadium on June 23 to participate in the celebrity soccer match called The Beautiful Game. The 36-year-old expressed his thoughts on his return to Orlando and taking part in this match next month.

“For me it is an honor to be back in Orlando and be with the fans one more time,” said Nani. “I can’t wait to see my friends from the club, The Wall and all Orlando City supporters again. I’m thankful for this opportunity to play one more time with Roberto Carlos, Ronaldinho, and so many legends.”

Nani played three seasons for the Lions, recording 28 goals and 23 assists in 77 appearances for the club. The match will feature icons such as Ronaldinho, Roberto Carlos, Carlos Valderrama, Javier Mascherano, and Rivaldo as well. The match will also have halftime entertainment, and more additions to the rosters set to be announced at a later date.

Amanda Allen Scores Again in Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship

Orlando Pride forward Amanda Allen made the starting lineup again for Canada in the 2023 Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship in the Dominican Republic. In Canada’s final group stage match against the U.S., Allen converted a penalty kick for Canada’s first goal in what finished as a 5-2 loss for her side.

It was Allen’s second goal of the tournament, but she was injured in this match as well. Canada finishes second in the group, with the U.S. on top. On Friday, the U.S. will play Costa Rica and Canada will face Mexico in the semifinals.

U-20 USMNT Advances to World Cup Quarterfinals

Orlando City defender Michael Halliday came on as a substitute in the 71st minute for the U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team in its U-20 World Cup match against New Zealand. The U.S. shut out New Zealand 4-0 to advance to the quarterfinals in Argentina. That victory gives the U.S. its fourth-consecutive shutout in the tournament. Austin FC midfielder Owen Wolff, San Jose Earthquakes forward Cade Cowell, FC Dallas defender Justin Che, and Hajduk Split midfielder Rokas Pukstas all scored for the Americans. In the quarterfinals on Sunday, the U.S. will face the winner of tomorrow’s match between Gambia and Uruguay.

Interim Head Coach Anthony Hudson Leaves USMNT

The U.S. Soccer Federation announced that Anthony Hudson is leaving his role as the USMNT’s interim head coach to pursue a new opportunity. Hudson is reportedly set to take a head coaching role with a club in the Middle East. He was the head coach of the U.S. U-20 team in 2020 and had been an assistant under Gregg Berhalter for the USMN before being named interim head coach in January. Hudson will be replaced by B.J. Callaghan, who will be the interim head coach for the USMNT for the Concacaf Nations League and Gold Cup competitions this summer. Callaghan has been an assistant coach with the USMNT over the last four years and was previously an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Union.

USMNT Will Host Ghana and Germany for October Friendlies

The USMNT will play two international friendlies in October against Germany and Ghana. The U.S. will take on four-time World Cup Champion Germany on Oct. 14 in East Hartford, CT. The last time the USMNT played Germany was in 2015, with the Yanks winning 2-1. On Oct. 17, the USMNT will face Ghana in Nashville. The Black Stars will look to get their first win on American soil against the Stars and Stripes. Ghana eliminated the Americans in the World Cup in 2006 and 2010, but the U.S. defeated Ghana in the group stage at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The last time these two sides met was in 2017, when the USMNT edged Ghana, 2-1.

Free Kicks

  • The LA Galaxy parted ways with President Chris Klein. Head Coach and Sporting Director Greg Vanney will remain with the club. The Galaxy have missed the playoffs in four of the last six seasons.
  • Former Netherlands forward Quincy Promes will be prosecuted for his involvement in drug trafficking. Promes is accused of allegedly smuggling 1,360 kilos of cocaine in 2020.
  • Juventus is reportedly emerging as the leader in the race to acquire Christian Pulisic on a transfer from Chelsea. Pulisic has one-year remaining on his contract with the English Premier League side.
  •’s James Nalton shared his insights on five potential USMNT players to watch during the U-20 World Cup .
  • An arrest warrant has reportedly been issued in Brazil for LA Galaxy midfielder Douglas Costa for unpaid child support.
  • Is it just me or did The Athletic forget to mention our beloved Lions’ U.S. Open Cup run last year?

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

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