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Orlando City

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

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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.

Starters

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.

Substitutes

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

PlayerVotes
Tesho Akindele12
Ruan15
Benji Michel23
Pedro Gallese25
Other12

Lion Links

Lion Links: 2/28/24

Orlando City moves on in Champions Cup, Orlando Pride unveil new kits, USMNT to play Brazil in Orlando, and more.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope you all enjoyed watching Orlando City’s win Tuesday night in the Concacaf Champions Cup. I’ve been staying busy at Under Armour, while wrapping up covering high school basketball playoff action with the state championship this weekend. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Orlando City Defeats Cavalry FC in Concacaf Champions Cup

The Lions took care of business on Tuesday, defeating Cavalry FC 3-1 at Inter&Co Stadium to advance 6-1 on aggregate and reach the round of 16 in the Concacaf Champions Cup. Forward Luis Muriel got his first start as a Lion, and there was plenty of rotation from the lineup Head Coach Oscar Pareja used against CF Montreal this past weekend. It was Orlando’s first home win in the continental tournament and the Lions will face Tigres in the next round in a rematch of their series in last year’s Concacaf Champions League. The first match will be in Orlando on Tuesday, with the second leg taking place in Mexico on March 12.

Orlando Pride Unveil New Phoenix and Citrus Kits

The Orlando Pride unveiled two new kits on Tuesday as part of the NWSL’s league-wide kit reset ahead of the upcoming season. The first kit is called the Phoenix kit, which features the Pride’s two recognizable colors, purple and blue. The Phoenix kit also features a two-toned purple gradient that goes from the top right to bottom left on the jersey.

The secondary Citrus Kit is an all new color scheme that pays tribute to Florida’s citrus industry. The Citrus Kit features a new orange and iced-out green color scheme with oranges and leaves, while the letters and numbers have the same green coloring. The socks have “Pride” handwritten on the back, while a stylized “OP” is on the lower end of the jersey.

Both kits will be unveiled during the kit party at the Orlando Regional History Center later today. Fans can purchase replicas of the two new jerseys at ShopOrlandoPride.com, in the Den at Inter&Co Stadium, and on NWSLShop.com.

Philadelphia Union Advance Past Deportivo Saprissa

The Philadelphia Union survived a wild match against Deportivo Saprissa at Subaru Park, securing a 3-3 draw to advance to the next round on aggregate. There were four goals in the first 30 minutes of the match, and Mariano Torres gave Saprissa a needed third goal in the second half to send the game to extra time. Despite playing a man down after defender Jack Elliot was sent off, the Union’s Mikael Uhre scored in extra time and the defense held on to advance. There is more Concacaf Champions League action tonight, as FC Cincinnati takes on Cavalier SC, already up 2-0 on aggregate, while Nashville SC faces Moca FC with a 3-0 aggregate lead. The New England Revolution will host Independiente tomorrow.

USMNT to Play Brazil at Camping World Stadium

The United States Men’s National Team will play Brazil in the second edition of the Continental Clasico on June 12 at Camping World Stadium. Both teams will use this match to test themselves in preparation for the Copa America this summer. This will be the first meeting between these two sides since 2018, when the USMNT lost 2-0 to Brazil in a friendly at MetLife Stadium. In the first edition of the Continental Clasico last April, the USMNT played Mexico in a thrilling 1-1 draw. The USMNT has only beaten Brazil once in 19 matches, but its record in Orlando has been stellar, with a 7-2-0 record in recent years. The 2024 Copa America will kick off on June 20.

Free Kicks

  • The latest MLS power rankings have been released after opening week. Orlando City dropped three places to eighth after a scoreless draw against CF Montreal this past weekend.
  • The Orlando Pride’s Rafaelle started and scored a goal in Brazil’s win against Panama in the Concacaf W Gold Cup. Pride forward Adriana came off the bench for Brazil as well.
  • USMNT captain Tyler Adams is back at training with AFC Bournemouth. Adams has been sidelined since last September with a hamstring injury.

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

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Cavalry FC, Concacaf Champions Cup: Final Score 3-1 as Lions Sweep Canadian Shield Winners

Lions blast Cavalry FC 6-1 on aggregate across the two legs to advance in Concacaf Champions Cup.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Nicolas Lodeiro, Ramiro Enrique, and Kyle Smith provided the offense as Orlando City defeated Cavalry FC 3-1 at home in the second leg of the first-round Concacaf Champions Cup series. Orlando City advances to the round of 16. Myer Bevan scored for Cavalry FC to hand the Canadian side their first-ever goal in the competition, spoiling a repeat of last week’s 3-0 result. Orlando advances 6-1 on aggregate across the two legs.

It was the first home win in the continental tournament for Orlando and the team advanced for the first time as well. The Lions will take on Tigres UANL in a rematch of last year’s first-round series.

“I thought the way (Cavalry) battled the game and they complicated things for us was remarkable,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “It was difficult to get the rhythm, knowing that we wanted to keep the same intensity and the same level and the same aggressiveness, and being fine in the last third as we all committed to. As the game went on, we found better timings to do it. Then, finally, in the second half we found the goal that kind of released a little bit of the anxiousness we had.”

Pareja rotated his squad heavily for this match, starting Homegrown goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar in net behind a back line of Rafael Santos, Rodrigo Schlegel, Smith, and Michael Halliday. Wilder Cartagena and Felipe started in central midfield behind an attacking line of Shak Mohammed, Martin Ojeda, and Enrique with new Designated Player Luis Muriel up top.

With the Lions entering at +3 on aggregate and playing a lot of young players, it’s no surprise that the first half was a bit sleepy. The first look at goal in the match came nine minutes in when Enrique directed a weak header on at Cavalry goalkeeper Marco Carducci off Ojeda’s corner kick.

Muriel was active in his first action with Orlando, directing a header on frame in the 14th minute and nearly scoring a fantastic goal a minute later. The Colombian dribbled through the Cavalry defense from midfield in transition. Upon entering the box, two defenders closed him down. Muriel still managed to direct a shot on goal but Carducci was able to make a sprawling save.

Orlando should have scored in the 17th minute. Ojeda made a slick move in the box to get past a sliding defender. He crossed for Halliday but the young fullback muffed his first touch and sent the ball wide of the left post. There was a video review for a possible Cavalry handball but no penalty was given.

Enrique was active but had a wasteful first half. He tried to inside-out a shot at the near post in the 22nd minute but missed the target.

The visitors almost snatched the lead in the 27th minute. A corner kick cross found its way to Charlie Trafford through traffic. Trafford’s header skipped just wide of the right post and the game remained scoreless.

Muriel fired just wide of the left post in the 29th after Orlando turned the visitors over in their own end. Three minutes later, Enrique tried an ambitious one-timer from a tight angle on the right but hit it right at Carducci. There were better options for the Argentine on the play. Enrique then got to a Halliday cross in the 36th minute but headed it right at Carducci. That was the last good look of the half.

At the half, Orlando led on the stat sheet but neither side had a goal. The Lions held the advantage in possession (51.4%-48.6%), shots (8-3), shots on target (4-0), passing accuracy (88.7%-86.3%), and corners (3-1).

“Against Montreal it took us a while in the first half to get some rhythm. I know the boys don’t want me to make any excuse, and I won’t do it, but today with kind of the same start, I would like to review, because we don’t want it to happen. But after that I thought we got the rhythm. And the break of the half, we just calmed the team down a little. I told them we have to settle first. Let’s not try to do super advanced things if we’re not doing the simple ones. Let’s do the simple ones first and just let the game come.”

Pareja subbed on Lodeiro and Cesar Araujo for Mohammed and Cartagena to start the second half. The Lions nearly scored just seconds after the restart when they turned Cavalry over in front of goal, but Ojeda’s shot was blocked behind for a corner.

Orlando finally broke the deadlock near the end of the 48th minute. Muriel ended up with the ball on the right and cut toward the middle. Spotting Lodeiro to his left, he dropped a pass off for the veteran midfielder, who fired off the left post and in to make it 1-0. It was Lodeiro’s first goal and Muriel’s first assist with the Lions.

“It was a play where we were able to recover the ball, and then first thing that we did was try and look to get in on goal,” Muriel said through a club interpreter. “The goalkeeper picked up his head and was able to shut that door. But then Nico was calling for me. I heard him calling for me to pass him the ball, and he’s a great player, and seeing him inside was was great. And he was able to get that goal. So, it was a beautiful play, and I’m happy for the way things went, because up until that point, it was a complicated game.”

“It’s always nice when guys can come in and contribute right off the get-go,” said Stajduhar, the longest tenured Lion. “So, it was nice to see Nico get that goal today and Luis getting assists. So, the fact that they’re already contributing and playing well is going to be a good sign for the group going forward.”

Stajduhar was forced into a save on Bevan in the 53rd minute from a tough angle. He should have handled it better but spilled it out for a corner. Fortunately for the Lions, the visitors could do nothing with the set piece.

Moments later, Daan Klomp was booked for taking down Muriel who was breaking in transition the other way for Orlando.

Eryk Kobza tried his luck from outside the area in the 57th minute but didn’t get his effort on target. A minute later, Carducci did well on a 1-v-1 save to deny Enrique, who was judged offside anyway after the shot.

Ojeda had a takeaway at the hour mark and started the break. Enrique picked out Lodeiro entering the box but his first touch was poor and the veteran chipped over the net from a tough angle on the right.

Bevan pulled a goal back for Cavalry in the 65th minute. Halliday couldn’t keep the cross from fizzing through the box from Stajduhar’s right. Schlegel had the opposing forward covered but didn’t make the play when the ball came through. It was an easy tap-in for Bevan to tie the game at 1-1.

Orlando regained the lead in the 71st minute. Enrique took a pass from Lodeiro and fired a blast from the top left corner of the box. His laser shot found the upper right corner of the goal behind Carducci to make it 2-1.

“Mason hit it long to me, I nodded it on Nico, and then Nico was able to get it back to me,” Enrique said about the play. “And I just figured, ‘Have a hit,’ and thankfully it went in.

The game was a bit back-and-forth after that for a while. Ali Musse sent a volley shot just wide of Stajduhar’s goal in the 72nd minute from just outside the area.

Second-half sub Facundo Torres scored in the 74th minute but the flag came up as he was in ahead of Enrique, who could have taken the shot himself. Enrique then fired way off target a minute later.

Stajduhar did well to grab a shot by William Akio in the 76th minute. The keeper also had his post well covered in the 87th minute when Bradley Kamdem headed wide off a late Cavalry corner kick.

Smith tacked on a third for Orlando in the 88th minute after switching to left back. Smith sent Torres down the left and continued his run into the box. Torres took the ball down the left and cut back toward the top of the area, dropping the ball off for Smith, who sent his first-time shot into the right side of the net, putting the match to bed at 3-1.

That third goal took the air out of the match and it was over moments later.

Cavalry came back to edge Orlando in possession (51.1%-48.9%), but Orlando finished with the advantage in shots (14-12), shots on target (7-3), passing accuracy (84.9%-83.7%), and corners (6-4).

“It seems like being more patient in the sequences, we created more options,” Pareja said. “And also, when we look organized we have a better opportunity to counterattack with better spaces.”

“You could definitely let it affect you, but here we didn’t,” Halliday said of entering the game with a three-goal advantage. “We just said, ‘It’s another game we have to win. Just win the game.’ Same mentality.”

“I’m happy with the group,” Pareja said. “I think we all kind of refreshed today with a group playing that have not played and the ones who have been were resting. So, I’m happy now, just thinking about the derby (against Inter Miami on Saturday). We’ll think about the next step in Concacaf next week.”


The Lions are back in action Saturday when they travel to Fort Lauderdale to take on Inter Miami at 4:30 p.m. Orlando City will return to Concacaf Champions Cup action at home on March 5 against Mexican giants Tigres. The kickoff time will be announced in the coming days.

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Orlando City vs. Cavalry FC, Concacaf Champions Cup: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More

The Lions have the advantage heading into tonight’s second leg against Cavalry.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Welcome to your match thread for a Tuesday night Concacaf Champions Cup matchup between Orlando City and Cavalry FC of the Canadian Premier League at Inter&Co Stadium at 6 p.m. (FOX Sports 2). It’s the second meeting ever between the teams, who met for the first time just six days ago in Langford, British Columbia.

Here’s what you need to know ahead of the match.

History

There is exactly one game’s worth of history in this not-exactly-storied rivalry. Orlando City won the first match last Wednesday by a 3-0 scoreline at Starlight Stadium. Duncan McGuire put the Lions on the board first and Facundo Torres added a brace in a dominant performance by Orlando City. Those were Orlando’s first three away goals in continental competition and their first win on the road as well.

The Lions are experiencing their fourth international cup competition and their second foray into Concacaf Champions League/Cup, having drawn twice against Tigres UANL last season. Orlando bowed out of last year’s competition due to the away goals tiebreaker. Orlando City has also competed twice in Leagues Cup.

Overview

Orlando City is coming off a 0-0 draw against CF Montreal on Saturday in its MLS season opener at home. Pedro Gallese kept a clean sheet, keeping alive the club’s 10-year unbeaten streak in MLS openers (3-0-7). The Lions have not conceded a goal in their opener since Oscar Pareja became head coach, with three 0-0 draws, a 1-0 win over New York Red Bulls (2023), and a 2-0 win over CF Montreal (2022).

Cavalry FC hasn’t played since these teams met last week. The Canadian side is coming off a season in which it finished top of the table in the regular season but fell 2-1 after extra time in the CPL championship match against Forge FC. As far as CPL teams go, the Lions will be facing one of the league’s best, as you’d expect in a competition called “Champions Cup.” Cavalry showed its quality last week, jumping out to the more energetic start in each half and fashioning some good scoring chances in the second half.

The Lions will likely rotate some personnel for this match, given that they’ve played twice in the last six days and enjoy a three-goal advantage entering the second leg. Orlando City would advance with a win, a draw, or a loss by two goals or fewer, but there is a path for Cavalry FC. Here’s how the teams can advance:

“A very important match. The context of it, people may think the job has been done. The message today to the players was the game is not done yet,” Pareja said. “We respect our rival and the competition. We’re going in with full cylinders (tonight) trying to achieve us advancing to the next phase with a lot of responsibility because the tournament requires it.”

Orlando City has everyone available for tonight, including new striker Luis Muriel.


Official Lineups

Orlando City (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Mason Stajduhar.

Defenders: Rafael Santos, Rodrigo Schlegel, Kyle Smith, Michael Halliday.

Defensive Midfielders: Wilder Cartagena, Felipe.

Attacking Midfielders: Ramiro Enrique, Martin Ojeda, Shak Mohammed.

Forward: Luis Muriel.

Bench: Pedro Gallese, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, Abdi Salim, Robin Jansson, David Brekalo, Cesar Araujo, Jeorgio Kocevski, Nico Lodeiro, Ivan Angulo, Facundo Torres, Jack Lynn, Duncan McGuire.

Cavalry FC (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Marco Carducci.

Defenders: Bradley Kamdem, Daan Klomp, Callum Montgomery, Shamit Shome.

Defensive Midfielders: Eryk Kobza, Charlie Trafford.

Attacking Midfielders: William Akio, Sergio Camargo, Fraser Aird.

Forward: Myer Bevan.

Bench: Jack Barrett, Jesse Daley, Tom Field, Diego Gutierrez, Michael Harms, Ali Musse, Lucas Dias, Lleyton Brooks, Tobias Warschewski.

Officials:

REF: Fernando Guerrero (Mexico).
AR1: Christian Espinosa (Mexico).
AR2: Michel Espinoza (Mexico).
4TH: Cesar Ramos (Mexico).
VAR: Adonai Escobedo (Mexico).
VAR1: Benjamin Whitty (Cayman Islands).


How to Watch

Match Time: 6 p.m.

Venue: Inter&Co Stadium — Orlando.

TV: FOX Sports 2.

Streaming: The match can be streamed on FOX Sports GO, and the FOX Sports app.

Twitter: For rapid reaction and live updates, follow along at @TheManeLand, as well as Orlando City’s official Twitter feed (@OrlandoCitySC).


Enjoy the match. Go City!

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