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Orlando City vs FC Dallas: Player Grades and Man of the Match

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Orlando City was the better team in the first half and part of the second half against FC Dallas but a 69th-minute red card — on a second yellow — to Sebas Mendez changed the game. Fortunately, the Lions were strong defensively and came away with a well-earned point. It’s the team’s eighth straight game with at least a point and keeps Orlando in the top four of the Eastern Conference.

Here is how I viewed the individual performances in this game.

Starters

GK, Pedro Gallese, 7 (MotM) — As with many games this season, Pedro Gallese was great in this one. Especially in the first half, FC Dallas had some excellent chances but Gallese was up to the challenge. In the 10th minute, Gallese blocked a shot by Santiago Mosquera at point-blank range. In the 41st minute, Bryan Acosta flicked a ball that nearly found the top corner but Gallese was once again up for the task. Gallese ended the game with four saves and did well to manage the clock as the Lions looked to claim a point despite being a man down.

D, Ruan, 5.5 — It’s difficult to judge Ruan’s performance in this game as he only lasted 23 minutes before exiting with an injury. In the short time he was in action, Ruan caused trouble down the right. Nani and Mauricio Pereyra looked for him on multiple occasions. Defensively, he was strong, not giving anything to the FC Dallas attack.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 6.5 — Rodrigo Schlegel came away with another strong performance filling in for Antonio Carlos. After Sebas Mendez was sent off with 20 minutes remaining, Orlando City was put under pressure and the central defenders did well to keep the opposition at bay. He ended the game with three tackles, two clearances, and a blocked shot.

D, Robin Jansson, 6.5 — Robin Jansson was already the leader of the Orlando City defense but has been even more so since Antonio Carlos has been out. The Swede was strong in the back and, along with Schlegel, was key in ensuring that the Lions claimed a point. His stats might not stand out, recording a tackle, four clearances, and a blocked shot, but the goose egg for FC Dallas is largely attributed to his performance.

D, Kyle Smith, 6 — This was a bounce-back performance by Kyle Smith, who struggled in the team’s last game against Sporting Kansas City. After providing opportunities for the opposition midweek, Smith was much better in Dallas. In addition to being strong defensively, Smith completed 84.5% of his 58 passes and was accurate with four of his six long balls.

MF, Junior Urso, 6 — It was another strong performance by Junior Urso in the defensive midfield. His distribution was solid once again, completing 90.9% of his 55 passes. He had fewer tackles than his counterpart, Mendez, but was much smarter when doing so. The result was assisting in an important clean sheet that earned the Lions a point.

MF, Sebas Mendez, 3.5 — It was a night to forget for Mendez. He didn’t play that poorly for most of the game, completing 90% of his 50 passes. However, two stupid mistakes in his final five minutes defined his night. In the 64th minute, Mendez was issued a yellow for time wasting when he kicked the ball away after a free kick was awarded. Just five minutes later, after having just been cautioned, Mendez went in with a dangerous challenge, resulting in a second booking. He put his team in a difficult situation, effectively undoing all the good work he had done previously in the game.

MF, Nani, 6 — Nani was once again at the point of the Orlando City attack most of the night. He completed 76% of his 50 passes and made four key passes in the game. He ended up with a total of nine shots, but only one of those shots was on target. The club captain was lucky not to give up a late free kick to FC Dallas just outside of the Orlando City box but it was a quality performance overall.

MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 6.5 — Pereyra was excellent for the Lions in this game. He was often involved in play and did well to find others while building an attack. Touching the ball 60 times, Pereyra completed 86.1 of his 43 passes and had five key passes. He came off for Andres Perea in the 73rd minute but it was because of the need for a defensive addition after Sebas Mendez was sent off. Oscar Pareja would’ve preferred to have the attacker on, especially with the type of game he was having.

MF, Chris Mueller, 5 — Chris Mueller is usually a key part of the Orlando City attack, but he was largely missing in this game. In 63 minutes on the field, he only touched the ball 36 times and took two shots, with one on target. Mueller completed 87% of his 23 passes and attempted two crosses, but neither reached their intended target.

F, Tesho Akindele, 5 — Tesho Akindele was looking for a strong performance against his old club but it wasn’t to be. Coming off a good performance in Kansas City, Akindele only managed to record one shot, which was blocked, and only completed 61.5% of his 13 passes. He nearly got on the end of a first half cross, which could’ve been the opening goal, but was unable to reach it and ran into the goal instead.

Substitutes

D, Kamal Miller (23’), 6 — Kamal Miller was thrown into the game well before he expected and did very well. He replaced Ruan in the 23rd minute and was solid, helping complete the clean sheet. He made two interceptions and two clearances on the night, while 68.8% of his 32 passes found their mark.

F, Daryl Dike (63’), 5 — Oscar Pareja brought Daryl Dike on in the 63rd minute hoping he could do more than Akindele had done to that point. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the best night for the rookie. He had a couple of chances with the ball inside the box but was unable to threaten FC Dallas goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer and drew a free kick in a dangerous spot after out-dueling Matt Hedges, but Nani’s set piece delivery hit the wall. In the end, Dike only ended up with one shot that hit the side netting.

F, Benji Michel (63’), 5 — Similar to Dike, it was an unremarkable performance by Benji Michel. Despite being on the field for 27 minutes, he only touched the ball seven times and took one shot, which was off target. He was brought in to add a spark to the attack but was unable to.

MF, Andres Perea (73’), 5.5 — Perea came on as a defensive replacement after Mendez was sent off in the 69th minute. He only touched the ball five times and didn’t make any defensive stops so it’s difficult to judge his performance. However, considering that FC Dallas didn’t cause too much trouble while attacking a man up in the final minutes, Perea was helpful in the clean sheet and point earned by Orlando City.


That’s how I think Orlando City’s players performed against FC Dallas. How did you see the game? Let us know what you thought of the performance in the comment section and don’t forget to vote on the Man of the Match below.

Polling Closed

PlayerVotes
Pedro Gallese33
Mauricio Pereyra2
Nani2
Robin Jansson8
Other10

Lion Links

Lion Links: 3/1/24

Orlando’s girls teams playing in national event this weekend, USWNT will face Colombia, Paul Pogba banned for four years, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Welcome to March! It always feels like a good sign when a month starts on a Friday. Spring may not officially be here, but it definitely feels like winter is truly behind us. I plan on getting plenty of spring cleaning done this weekend before a fairly busy month. Let’s get this month started with today’s links!

ECNL Girls National Event Kicks Off Today

Some of the best youth soccer players are coming to Florida this weekend for the Elite Club National League’s spring event at Lakewood Ranch. It’s a great chance for clubs to play teams outside of their conference and there are plenty of scouts to impress as well. Orlando City will have four youth teams take part and each team will play at least three games over the three days. Orlando’s G07 squad has notably won five of its eight games in conference play and will take on Real Colorado National today. Orlando’s squads in the other age groups have some strong opponents lined up as well, so it should be a great experience for the club.

USWNT Will Face Colombia in Concacaf W Gold Cup

After finishing second in its group after a loss to Mexico, the United States Women’s National Team will take on Colombia this Sunday in the Concacaf W Gold Cup quarterfinals. The U.S. and Colombia squared off in friendlies last fall, with the teams playing to a scoreless draw in Utah before the U.S. won 3-0 in San Diego a few days later. Colombia also finished second in its group, conceding just once so far this tournament. The winner of Sunday’s match will play whichever team advances from tomorrow’s game between Canada and Costa Rica. On the other side of the bracket, Orlando Pride players square off when Rafaelle, Adriana, and Brazil play Mariana Larroquette and Argentina tomorrow. The winner of that match will play the victor between Mexico and Paraguay.

Portland Timbers Cut Ties With Jersey Sponsor

The Portland Timbers have dropped DaBella Exteriors as their jersey sponsor amid allegations that the company’s CEO, Donnie McMillan, Jr., sexually harassed employees. The accusations did not become public until Feb. 23 and the Timbers have removed DaBella’s image from their website as well. It makes sense that the Timbers would want to distance themselves from this. There was an investigation by U.S. Soccer in 2022 regarding former Portland Thorns head coach Paul Riley, and the club was also fined by MLS for not reporting an incident of alleged domestic violence involving former Timbers player Andy Polo in a timely manner. DaBella replaced Alaska Airlines as the team’s shirt sponsor for this season and the Timbers will now go without one until a new sponsor is chosen.

Paul Pogba Banned for Four Years

After testing positive for testosterone while playing for Juventus, French midfielder Paul Pogba was banned for the maximum four years by Italy’s anti-doping court. In response to the ruling, Pogba stated that the verdict was “incorrect” and that he will appeal this decision.

“I am sad, shocked and heartbroken that everything I have built in my professional playing career has been taken away from me,” Pogba said. “When I am free of legal restrictions the full story will become clear, but I have never knowingly or deliberately taken any supplements that violate anti-doping regulations.”

It’s fair to wonder just where this news leaves his career if his appeal is denied and he serves the full ban. Pogba turns 31 later this month and he is still under contract with Juventus through 2026, although this ban may obviously change that. Injuries have limited him in recent years as well, as he missed out on the most recent World Cup with France.

Free Kicks

  • Toronto FC signed English midfielder Matty Longstaff to a contract through the 2025 season. Longstaff has previous played for Newcastle United and should help improve a Toronto team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2020.
  • LA Galaxy midfielder Mark Delgado’s second yellow card he received in his team’s opener has been rescinded and he’s eligible for Saturday’s match against the San Jose Earthquakes. Delgado was sent off while the Galaxy were up against Inter Miami, and the Herons then went on to score and leave with a point.
  • The New England Revolution beat Independiente to advance to the Concacaf Champions Cup’s round of 16.
  • Bay FC forward Racheal Kundananji had to exit Zambia’s Olympic qualifier against Ghana due to an injury.
  • The United States Men’s National Team’s next away kit was reportedly leaked and it sure is something. It’s like a Bomb Pop got mixed into the team’s laundry.
  • The USL Super League’s Fort Lauderdale United unveiled its branding and the colors are pretty nice. However, the logo has a bit too much alphabet soup going on for my liking.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!

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Orlando City

Orlando City at Inter Miami: Three Keys to Victory

What does Orlando City need to do to defeat Inter Miami in Fort Lauderdale this Saturday?

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

This Saturday Orlando City travels to Fort Lauderdale to take on in-state rival Inter Miami. Despite having to pay for a part of Lionel Messi’s salary, the Lions will not get to have him play any time for Orlando City, which is kind of messed up, isn’t it? Regardless, the Lions will look to maintain their undefeated start to the year with a win down South.

What does Orlando City need to do to bring home all three points from Chase Stadium?

Get a Midfielder on Messi

It isn’t easy to stop Messi, but that is what defensive midfielders Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena must do in this match. They are arguably the best defensive midfield pairing in MLS and will need to prove it against one of the best to ever play the game. When Orlando City played Messi and Miami in the U.S. Open Cup last year, they were able to frustrate him and he should have been sent off just before halftime for a second yellow-worthy foul he committed to stop Araujo from getting to a loose ball first to start the counter. He is very entitled and doesn’t like being challenged by the likes of those two. Doing so smartly will be the key because of our next key below.

Don’t Give the Refs Anything

MLS and the referees will never admit that they made calls that benefit Miami and Messi in particular, but that’s because they want us to not believe our lying eyes. It’s unfair and wrong, but also a fact of life. As such, the Lions need to make sure that they don’t do anything even remotely close to the type of foul that will allow the refs to swing things the Herons’ way. Of course, that might not stop them from doing so, but playing clean and smart is the best chance to limit the impact the officiating has on the match. Balancing that will being aggressive enough to stop them will be tricky to say the least.

Score, Score, Score

You can be sure we will see a first-choice lineup from Oscar Pareja this Saturday. That means that the Lions need to press for goals early and often. Score enough goals and the referees can’t hurt you. Whether it’s Duncan McGuire, Facundo Torres, Luis Muriel, Ivan Angulo, Nico Lodeiro, or even Kyle Smith, the team needs to put the ball in the back of the net. Getting the early lead — especially if it’s two goals — will mean a lot to the flow of the game. Once again, I don’t particularly care where those goals come from, just that they happen.


That is what I will be looking for this Saturday. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 2/29/24

Lions reportedly won’t play in U.S. Open Cup, Cavalry FC reflects on its defeat, gauging the USWNT’s panic meter, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Leap Day, Mane Landers! It’s the rarest day of the year, as we all lean into our procrastination a bit and collectively tell March that we’ll get to it tomorrow. It’s been a pretty busy week for me, but knowing the MLS season is in full swing has helped fuel me a bit. Let’s dive into today’s links!

Orlando City Reportedly Won’t Play in 2024 U.S. Open Cup

The latest reports involving Major League Soccer’s participation in this year’s U.S. Open Cup indicate that Orlando City, along with a majority of MLS teams, won’t be playing their first teams in the tournament. According to ESPN‘s Jeff Carlisle, the Houston Dynamo and the seven best teams from last season that aren’t taking part in the Concacaf Champions Cup will have their first teams take part. The format will reportedly be announced soon and we’ll see if Orlando City B and other MLS NEXT Pro teams will be in the tournament.

It will be pretty disappointing if Orlando’s first team doesn’t end up playing. Even though the Lions suffered an early exit last year, they won in 2022 and Head Coach Oscar Pareja has a penchant for excelling in the U.S. Open Cup.

Cavalry FC Reflects on Loss to Orlando City

Although Cavalry FC lost in both legs against Orlando City in its first Concacaf Champions Cup campaign, the Canadian club can hold its head high. Cavalry Head Coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. spoke on the team’s tactics in the second leg in Orlando to overcome the hefty aggregate deficit.

“Strategically, we wanted to frustrate them in the first half with an extra defender, and often at times we were in a back five,” Wheeldon said. “And second half, we wanted to unleash with more attackers and have a go, because it was 0-0. We thought … one, we wanted to make history with our first goal, and two, we wanted to get a result here.”

That first goal did come with Myer Bevan making some history for his team to take back to Canada. All in all, Cavalry did pretty well as the underdog and it’s unfortunate it didn’t get a true home game in Calgary. Cavalry’s defense is the real deal and I doubt this is the last time it makes an appearance in the Champions Cup.

Assessing the Fallout From the USWNT’s Defeat

The United States Women’s National Team suffered a shocking defeat to Mexico earlier this week that’s brought on varying levels of panic. The clock is ticking before the Olympics and the USWNT struggled to bounce back after trailing in the first half and had difficulties on both sides of the ball. While the issues at center back will likely be solved once Naomi Girma and Tierna Davidson play, the midfield has plenty of question marks and a weird balance of youth and experience. It’s an awkward stage for the USWNT, as Emma Hayes doesn’t arrive until May and won’t have much time to get the team ready for Paris. Of course, the USWNT could still win this tournament and the return of Mallory Swanson may heal most wounds this summer, leaving this loss as just a minor blemish when the year is up. Only time will tell and the USWNT has plenty of opportunity to right the ship.

FA Cup Quarterfinals Are Set

It was a pretty wild day in the FA Cup, with some of England’s top teams fighting their way into the quarterfinals. Chelsea needed a late winner from Conor Gallagher to beat Leeds United 3-2 at Stamford Bridge. Manchester United’s match against Nottingham Forest also had a dramatic finish, as United’s Casemiro scored the game’s only goal in the 89th minute. Wolverhampton ousted Brighton thanks to an early goal, and Liverpool got the job done against Southampton.

In the quarterfinals, Newcastle will travel to take on Manchester City, Wolverhampton will host the second division’s Conventry City, Chelsea will take on Leicester City, and Manchester United will face off against Liverpool. All four matches will take place on March 16.

Free Kicks

  • After getting married, Orlando Pride defender Emily Madril will have a new name on the back of her jersey this season.
  • Former Pride midfielder Becky Edwards is an assistant coach at the University of Tennessee and shared details about her time as both a player and coach with the U.S. U-20 team.
  • Enjoy this captured moment of Orlando midfielder Wilder Cartagena being awesome.
  • LAFC forward Mateusz Bogusz’s strike against the Seattle Sounders won the first MLS Goal of the Matchday of the season, claiming 35.4% of the vote.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a pretty great Leap Day and that the rest of the week goes smoothly.

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