Orlando City will return home after coming away with a 1-0 win over the Montreal Impact in New Jersey. New York City FC’s 5-2 win over the New York Red Bulls at the same time made those three points essential as the Lions look to claim a home game in the 2020 MLS Cup playoffs.
It was a solid performance by the whole team as the Lions secured their fifth clean sheet of the season — fourth in regular-season play — and second against the Impact. Here’s how I saw the performance by the Orlando City players in this game.
GK, Pedro Gallese, 7 — There wasn’t a lot for the Peruvian international to do on this night as the Impact only had five shots on target and most were directly at him. However, a second half injury time shot by Bojan was headed just inside the post before El Pulpo came flying in to make the one-handed save. Considering that it would’ve been the equalizing goal, that save itself is enough to call this an excellent performance by Orlando City’s number one.
D, Kamal Miller, 5.5 — Kamal Miller wasn’t as involved in the attack as Kyle Smith or Ruan but did have a solid game defensively. He ended the game with a pair of tackles, an interception, and a clearance. He only played 56 minutes in this one but had another solid performance, contributing to an excellent defensive night for the Lions.
D, Antonio Carlos, 6 — This was a solid game by all defensive players and Antonio Carlos was no different. The team has been lifted by the Brazilian’s return to the lineup and he proved once again why in this game. He made three interceptions in the back and had eight clearances. Additionally, he blocked three shots. Carlos played the role of cleanup in this game, often being the last man defending to halt a Montreal attack and he was excellent in that role.
D, Robin Jansson, 6.5 — Similar to the other defenders, Robin Jansson had a great performance. The defense was tasked with keeping the 1-0 lead provided by Daryl Dike in the 39th minute and they did that well. The biggest moment for Jansson, which puts him a little above the other defenders in my mind, came when Bojan made his way into the box and fired on goal. It appeared as though the ball was headed toward the net before the Swede came flying in to make the block. While Gallese might’ve been there, Jansson made sure that the lead was protected. In the end, Jansson had seven clearances and two key blocked shots in the game.
D, Kyle Smith, 6 — Kyle Smith has had an up and down season in 2020. Some games he’s been solid while he’s looked like a liability in others. Tonight was a good performance for the right back, who moved to left back when Kamal Miller was replaced by Ruan. Early in the game, Smith got into the attack on the right, with a pair of crosses. But he factored most in his contribution to the clean sheet. He ended the game with four tackles, two interceptions, four clearances, and a blocked shot.
MF, Benji Michel, 5.5 — Benji Michel wasn’t as involved in the attack as he has been in other games but did come away with two shots on target. He only touched the ball 43 times, which is less than you would like from an attacking player with his ability. He completed 76% of his passes but wasn’t really involved in many dangerous attacks.
MF, Mauiricio Pereyra, 7 (MotM) — Mauricio Pereyra has been missing the last few games with an injury and it’s been noticeable. The midfielder was fantastic in this game and made the biggest play of the night. In the 39th minute, he played a perfect through ball for Daryl Dike, allowing the big striker to put home the winning goal. In 56 minutes, he completed 80% of his 35 passes, including two key passes in the attack. His passing accuracy and presence in the midfield was influential in the team being able to claim all three points.
MF, Sebas Mendez, 6 — It was another solid performance by Sebas Mendez, who has been a key defensive piece for Orlando City in 2020. He made five tackles on the night and had an interception in this game. He nearly provided an insurance goal when he dispossessed Bojan to launch a counter-attack but Clement Diop made the save on the final ball. When Mendez had the ball, he completed 91.6% of his 71 passes, helping to start an attack on several occasions.
MF, Andres Perea, 6 — Similar to Mendez, Andres Perea had a solid game in a defensive midfield role. He had three interceptions and four clearances, helping the Lions remain in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. He made a total of 81 passes going forward and completed 86.4% of those passes.
FW, Daryl Dike, 6.5 — The rookie striker has been the big man up top that Orlando City has been missing since Cyle Larin left. He scored his third goal in three games in this one but it’s the play itself that was impressive. After using his body to shield the defender from the ball and going to ground, he quickly got up and made a nice run for Pereyra. His shot was perfectly placed to the back post for the game’s lone goal. He wasn’t that involved in his 84 minutes, only touching the ball 34 times and taking two shots, but his job is to score and he did that once again.
FW, Tesho Akindele, 5 — Tesho Akindele has had some great games this season but this wasn’t one of them. He wasn’t invisible, nor was he a liability, but he didn’t make the impact you want a veteran striker to make. He completed 81.8% of his 33 passes in this game and took two shots, with one on target. While he touched the ball more times than Dike and had the same number of shots, it was the conversion that separated the performance by the two.
MF, Junior Urso (56’), 5 — Despite coming on for 34 minutes, Junior Urso didn’t make that much of an impact on the game. He touched the ball 25 times and completed 75% of his 20 passes. He made two key passes in the second half but his primary goal was to help defend the team’s 1-0 lead. He was successful in that as they got the win but only recorded one clearance defensively.
D, Ruan (56’), 5.5 — When Ruan came into the game, the Lions were still looking to tack on a second goal. They nearly did in the 80th minute when a break gave the Lions their second chance. Unfortunately, the break was too slow. This wasn’t the fault of Ruan, as his teammates didn’t utilize his speed by sending him into space. By the time he reached the ball, Diop was able to come off his line to make the stop. A minute later he found Michel but the midfielder wasn’t able to get much on the shot. It was a solid 34 minutes for Ruan but less impact than he probably would’ve wanted.
MF, Alexander Alvarado (76’), 5.5 — Alexander Alvarado came on for Akindele with 14 minutes remaining, looking to help seal the win. He made five passes in his 14 minutes, completing each one successfully. At the point of his entrance, the team was defending multiple attacks by the Impact and Alvarado helped. He made two interceptions that helped the team clear the ball and maintain the one-goal lead.
MF, Joey DeZart (85’), N/A — With five minutes remaining, Orlando City made a pair of substitutions, one of which was Joey DeZart for Michel. DeZart only touched the ball three times in those five minutes and recorded one clearance.
F, Matheus Aias (85’), N/A — A late change for Dike, Matheus Aias came on for the final five minutes of the game. He only touched the ball four times and passed once in the short time he was on the field.
That’s the way I saw Orlando City’s individual performances. Let us know what you thought about each Lion and don’t forget to vote on the Man of the Match.
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.
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.
- 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.
- An Atletico Madrid supporter was arrested for racially abusing an eight-year-old who was wearing a Vinicius Junior jersey last year. I’m glad they were able to find the person responsible for this. It’s disgusting behavior that needs to be removed from the sport.
- Vladimir Petkovic was hired as Algeria’s next head coach and will manage the team through 2026 World Cup qualifying. Algeria failed to make it out of the group stage of the recent Africa Cup of Nations and has not qualified for the past two World Cups.
- Grace Wilson became the first Australian soccer player to come out as non-binary. Hopefully this helps make things a little easier for other athletes wishing to come out in the future.
- Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn was named as a part owner of the Utah Royals.
- Wayne Rooney stated that he wants to manage either Manchester United or Everton in the next 10 years. He was just fired by Birmingham City in January.
That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!
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?
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!
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.
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.
- 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.
- FC Cincinnati beat Cavalier 4-0 in the Champions Cup to advance to the round of 16, where it will take on Brandon Vazquez and Monterrey.
- Spain beat France 2-0 to win the inaugural Women’s Nations League final, with Aitana Bonmati and Mariona Caldentey both scoring.
- American midfielder Johnny Cardoso was named La Liga’s U-23 Player of the Month after a strong February with Real Betis.
- After missing the past weekend, American forward Folarin Balogun will no longer be taking penalty kicks for AS Monaco.
- Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly the frontrunners to land striker Victor Osimhen, who just had a hat trick in Napoli’s 6-1 win over Sassuolo.
- Former Manchester United defender John O’Shea will serve as Ireland’s interim head coach for a pair of friendlies in March.
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.
PawedCast Episode 399: Jeorgio Kocevski Interview, Cavalry FC Rewind, Inter Miami Preview, U.S. Open Cup, and More
Lion Links: 3/1/24
Orlando City at Inter Miami: Three Keys to Victory
Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Five Takeaways
Orlando Pride Unveil New Kits Ahead of 2024 NWSL Season
Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Player Grades and Man of the Match
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