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Orlando City vs New York Red Bulls: Player Grades and Man of the Match

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Ugh. After an unbeaten start to the season, Orlando City has finally tasted defeat after a 2-1 loss in Harrison, NJ to the Red Bulls of New York. The Lions put themselves in a 2-0 hole before Silvester van der Water scored and nearly got another late in the game. Here’s how each Lion fared in the first loss of the year:

Starters

GK, Pedro Gallese, 6.5 — Gallese was great at times in this game. His early save off a Red Bulls corner kick was phenomenal. He made four more saves in this game, and didn’t have much of a chance on the two Red Bull goals. Where he needed to be better was his distribution. He was 16 of 25 (64%) passing, including 4 of 13 (30%) on long balls, which is not good enough. Granted, there was a lot of just hoofing it up to try to win second balls, but you still want at least a little more out of the back. 

D, Kyle Smith, 7 — Kyle Smith is just consistently good. He’s not dynamic the way Ruan or Joao Moutinho are, but he’s just so consistently good defensively. He made three tackles, one interception, two clearances, and nine ball recoveries. Playing as a hybrid center back and later as a true fullback, he was flexible and effective. He played a key role in several late Orlando City attacks, including having the initial cross on the goal, finishing with a completed cross and having his one shot blocked. He was also important in possession, completing a team-high 58 passes at 85%.

D, Robin Jansson, 7 — Jansson was arguably Orlando’s best player on the day — he was my choice for Man of the Match until van der Water made things happen late. Defensively he was sound with eight ball recoveries, two successful tackles, three interceptions, and six clearances. When Orlando’s midfield turned the ball over, it was often Jansson shutting down the Red Bull attack, and he did his job. Perhaps even more impactful at times was his distribution. While he only completed three of six long balls, he was breaking lines, beating the press, and putting Orlando’s forwards into dangerous spots. These are the plays that only Jansson makes for this team that can be such a weapon. Overall, he completed 39 of 46 passes (85%), and also completed a dribble. With no Rodrigo Schlegel due to personal reasons, Jansson stepped up and maybe re-earned his spot in the starting XI. 

D, Antonio Carlos, 6.5 — Another game, another solid outing from Antonio Carlos. He did his defensive work well, making two tackles, a massive seven interceptions, three clearances, and eight ball recoveries. He passes the ball well, completing 49 of 55 passes including four successful long balls. It wasn’t an overwhelmingly stellar performance, but certainly good. 

D, Michael Halladay, 5.5 — It was a good, not great, MLS debut for Homegrown defender Michael Halladay. His one big mistake came on New York’s first goal when he failed to track Caden Clark and got caught ball watching. Other than that, he was solid. He completed 19 of 23 passes (83%), won a tackle, had a pair of interceptions, and six ball recoveries. He wasn’t particularly dynamic offensively, neither of his two crosses were on target, but it was a solid first outing for the young defender. 

MF, Sebas Mendez, 4 — Mendez has been one of the standout players for Orlando in this first part of the MLS season, but this was a poor performance. He completed 46 passes at an 84% clip including 4/8 long balls, but he struggled breaking lines or even linking play at times. He gave up four fouls, including a dangerous opportunity at the top of the box for New York’s second goal, and got a yellow card. Mendez won only one of his three attempted tackles and made only one interception. Maybe I’m being harsh, but it just wasn’t good enough from Mendez in this one. 

MF, Junior Urso, 6.5 — I really like what we saw from Urso. Defensively he won the ball back eight times, won 14 duels, and completed a tackle. He was also dynamic in transition, helping spark Orlando’s best offensive actions of the game. He completed 38 passes at 84%, completed five of eight long balls, completed two of five dribbles, had a key pass, and connected on a first half corner kick, though his effort dribbled well wide. He also drew a team high eight fouls. The only real negative for me was how cheaply he gave away the ball at times with several poor passes and he was dispossessed a team-high seven times. Overall solid performance from the Bear.

MF, Andres Perea, 6 — Starting in place of a natural winger to counter New York’s diamond midfield, Perea wasn’t in his best spot to succeed but was pretty good in spite of that. He completed 36 passes at 82% including all three of his long balls and completed three dribbles. He was involved in several half chances but also put in some defensive work, with two ball recoveries and a clearance. 

MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 4.5 — It was a quiet day for El Maestro. He only played a half and made very little of his time on the field. No chances created, no shots, and only one key pass is not the return you expect from a player of Pereyra’s quality. He completed only 20 of his 27 passes (74%) including 0/3 on long balls. His defensive work was also mediocre at best with only one ball recovery and no tackles or interceptions.

MF, Chris Mueller, 5.5 — It wasn’t a bad game for Mueller, but he still hasn’t found his 2020 self. He completed 29 of his 43 passes (67%), three of his six dribbles, and had a key pass. There were times he got into dangerous spots or got the team into good areas, but the quality just isn’t there. He hasn’t been aggressive enough, finishing with no shots in this game. To be fair to him, he was doing a lot of work in this game playing as more of a wingback than pure winger and he did a good big of defensive work, with six ball recoveries and a pair of aerial wins. But for a wide player, his crossing was poor — 0/3 from open play and 0/2 on corners — and he has to start doing more. He did look a little sharper when the formation changed, but it was another disappointing outing.

F, Tesho Akindele, 6.5 — Tesho was pretty good again, even if he didn’t find the scoresheet. He did have an assist, setting up van der Water’s goal and should’ve had a second soon after. He had an excellent opportunity after being played in behind but couldn’t beat the keeper with his weak foot. In all, the big Canadian completed 23 of 27 passes. His defensive work was great again, winning seven duels, two ball recoveries, a successful tackle, and a clearance. You want more than one shot from a center forward, but with the overall lack of opportunities for much of the match and with everything else he brought to the table, it was a good Tesho performance.

Substitutes

F, Benji Michel (46’), 6.5 — Benji made things happen off the bench. His pace and strength were a welcome addition to the game, particularly on van der Water’s near equalizer. It wasn’t a super clean game. He was dispossessed three times and had other miscontrols, but he added a different element that stretched the field. He completed seven passes at 64%, had a successful tackle, and won three tackles. 

F, Silvester van der Water (63’), 7.5 (MotM) — Subbing on, van der Water changed the game for Orlando City. He was dynamic, creative, and dangerous for Orlando, providing a spark on the right wing. He had two successful dribbles, completed two long balls, created a chance, won four duels, and had three shots. Defensively he won a tackle and had two ball recoveries. He also bagged his first Orlando City goal in the 84th minute, though he should’ve tied the game four minutes later with a wide-open chance inside the box. Even with that miss, it was another exciting performance from the Dutchman who might’ve earned himself more minutes after these last two games.

D, Joao Moutinho (63’), 6.5 — Moutinho brought a lot in his half hour or work. His delivery was tantalizing, including a good opportunity for van der Water that unfortunately deflected off another Orlando City player. He completed 16 of 25 passes (64%), won three tackles, and made three ball recoveries.


That’s how I judged everyone’s performance, but what did you see? Leave your thoughts below and vote who you think deserved Man of The Match.

Polling Closed

PlayerVotes
Silvester van der Water31
Robin Jansson3
Antonio Carlos0
Kyle Smith4
Tesho Akindele2
Other4

Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/13/24

Orlando City B hosts Chattanooga FC tonight, USMNT earns draw against Brazil, MLS’ Juneteenth celebrations, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

How’s it going, Mane Landers? Between my cat finally deciding I’m worth hanging out with and reading a pair of books that have been collecting dust on my shelf, I’ve been having a pretty good week. I’m looking forward to the feast of soccer both in Orlando and abroad over the next few days as well. But for now, let’s get this Thursday started with today’s links!

Orlando City B Hosts Chattanooga FC Tonight

In an enticing midweek match tonight at 7 p.m., Orlando City B will take on Chattanooga FC at Osceola Heritage Park. If not heading to watch OCB in person, you can catch the game on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+. The last time these two teams squared off was on May 4, with Chattanooga winning the penalty shootout for an extra point after a 1-1 draw in Tennessee. The Young Lions are coming off of a 2-2 draw with one of the league’s worst teams this season, Carolina Core FC, but winning the shootout after a late rally could give them the kind of momentum needed to take down Chattanooga. Beating one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference would be quite the statement from OCB during what’s been a middling season so far.

USMNT Draws With Brazil in Orlando

Playing in Orlando at Camping World Stadium, the United States Men’s National Team drew 1-1 against Brazil in a friendly billed as the Continental Clasico. Brazil scored first, but Matt Turner and the USMNT didn’t collapse under the pressure and earned the team’s first ever draw against the South American powerhouse. All in all, it was a much better result than the USMNT’s 5-1 loss to Colombia on Saturday. This was the USMNT’s final match until Copa America later this month. The Yanks will start their campaign against Bolivia on June 23 before playing Panama on June 27 and Uruguay on July 1.

MLS Announces Initiatives for Juneteenth

In partnership with Black Players for Change and Adidas, MLS announced some of the ways the league will be celebrating Juneteenth. Pre-match shirts acknowledging the change players can provide will be worn during warm-ups and fans can buy their own shirts as well, with a portion of the proceeds going toward organizations focused on racial equity and social justice. There will also be a campaign highlighting the connection between professional and academy players, as well as educational content across the league’s social media to raise awareness of the holiday.

Euro 2024 Kicks Off on Friday

A loaded gauntlet of summer tournaments finally begins Friday, as Germany hosts Scotland for the first match of Euro 2024. From Cristiano Ronaldo’s potential swan song to a brutal group that includes Spain, Italy, and Croatia, storylines abound for the tournament and each team brings something worth watching to the table. For Orlando City fans, defender David Brekalo was called up by Slovenia, which was drawn in a group with England, Denmark, and Serbia. I’m looking forward to seeing which underdogs prevail and which players make a name for themselves in this tournament.

2026 World Cup Schedule Revealed

The full schedule for the 2026 World Cup was unveiled, which gives a slight glimpse at the paths each host nation could take in the tournament. If the U.S. wins Group D after matches in Los Angeles and Seattle, it will stay on the West Coast for a knockout game in San Francisco before a potential round of 16 game in Seattle and quarterfinal in Los Angeles. Mexico and Canada have similar incentives to win their groups, as they will then host in their country until heading to the U.S. for the quarterfinals, should they make it that far. Here in Florida, Hard Rock Stadium in Miami will serve as the venue for four group games, a round of 32 match on July 3, a quarterfinal on July 11, and the third-place match on July 18.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando Pride Assistant Coach Yolanda Thomas was announced as a panelist for the Black Soccer Coaches’ summer symposium on July 22. She will also have a field session at the event to discuss the role of the midfield when building out of the back.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a wonderful Thursday and rest of your week!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/12/24

Leagues Cup forgets Orlando’s U.S. Open Cup win, USMNT U-23 loses to Japan, NWSL expansion options, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. The USMNT plays tonight in Orlando, and I hope that you have tickets. If not, we can still watch as we wait for the Orlando City and Orlando Pride matches this Saturday. On a personal note, this Friday will mark my ninth anniversary with The Mane Land. It’s been a heck of a ride, and I’m glad you’ve been there with us. Here’s to many more years to come. Let’s get to the links.

Leagues Cup Forgets Orlando’s U.S. Open Cup Win

Orlando City is playing in the Leagues Cup starting at the end of July and here’s a nice guide to Orlando’s group for the tournament. Of course, the Leagues Cup organizers want you to be pumped so that you watch and buy tickets. I think that is something we should do simply to support the club. However, I don’t think they went about promoting the competition in quite the right way. In a tweet that has since been deleted, the tournament’s social media team stated the Leagues Cup would be Orlando’s chance to win its first trophy. Did you catch the mistake? Taylor Twellman did.

Good on you, Taylor. Facundo Torres was indeed brilliant in that match, as was Benji Michel. Of course, there were others that caught the faux pas as well.

I think we should also be mentioning the USL Championships, but what do I know? Evidently, more than the Leagues Cup’s social media team.

USMNT to Honor Pulse Victims

There’s plenty of fake, corporate shows of support for Pride Month , but in general I think that the USMNT and USWNT have done a good job of being legitimate allies to the LGBTQIA+ community. Tonight, the USMNT will play a friendly against Brazil at Camping World Stadium on the anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting. The players will be wearing Pride jerseys to honor those who lost their lives so senselessly eight years ago.

In terms of the game, the USMNT will be without Josh Sargent for the match, and Tyler Adams will only get limited minutes if he plays, as both are coming back from injuries. Get well before the Copa America, lads.

Lions on International Duty

The United States U-23 Men’s National Team lost 2-0 to Japan in its final friendly match before the Olympics. Orlando City’s Duncan McGuire found himself on a bit of an island up top as the U.S. had difficulty moving the ball through the midfield. Hopefully, the U.S. got such play out of its system heading into the Olympics.

OCB’s Wilfredo Rivera made the most of his time playing in Puerto Rico’s World Cup qualifier against Anguilla, scoring a brace in the 8-0 victory. This win comes after a scoreless draw with El Salvador last week and Puerto Rico’s remaining group games during this round of qualifying will be next June.

Exploring NWSL Expansion Options

The NWSL will be expanding to 16 teams in 2026 with many cities vying for the next franchise. The leaders include Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Minneapolis. Atlanta, Denver, and Jacksonville are potential choices as well. If it was to be given to either Atlanta or Jacksonville they would be regional rivals for the Orlando Pride. The league is expected to make a decision by the fourth quarter of 2024.

Free Kicks

  • Congratulations to the U-15 United States Women’s National Team, which won 4-0 over Germany.
  • Did you ever have one of those dreams that was a little scary, but also absolutely hilarious? This preview of Inter Miami’s new mascot is a bit like that. To misquote Jaws: “Ever seen an Inter Miami mascot’s eyes, Chief? He’s got lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll’s eyes.”
  • The Cayman Islands Men’s National Football Team forfeited its match against Cuba because many of its players are on visas in the United States. If those players were to travel to Cuba, the U.S. may have canceled those visas due to travel restrictions.
  • This is one of the most ridiculous no-calls I’ve ever seen. India got royally hosed.

That will do it for today. Check back as we get you ready for the Orlando City and Orlando Pride matches this Saturday night. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/11/24

Julie Doyle up for Goal of the Week, scouting Brazil ahead of USMNT match, Valencia fans convicted of racial abuse, and more.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Happy Tuesday, everyone. After a brief break, Orlando City will be back in action when it takes on LAFC at home on Saturday. The Orlando Pride will visit a struggling North Carolina Courage side on the same day, while Orlando City B will have an oddly placed Thursday match against Chattanooga FC. With such a busy week ahead of us, it’s little surprise that we have a lot to talk over this morning. Let’s get into it.

Julie Doyle Up for Goal of the Week

Pride forward Julie Doyle has been nominated for NWSL Goal of the Week for her strike against the San Diego Wave during Friday’s 1-1 draw. Doyle opened the scoring in the 36th minute with an extremely well taken goal that came from a Barbra Banda assist. The Zambian forward made a run down the right wing and crossed for Doyle, but the ball was a little behind her and the chance looked to have gone. It hadn’t though, because Doyle contorted her body, hung out a foot, and let the momentum from the ball carry it into the back of San Diego’s net. Make sure you go vote for her to win!

Brazil Scouting Report

The United States Men’s National Team will play its final friendly before Copa America Wednesday night at Camping World Stadium in Orlando. The idea of any USMNT game is slightly nauseating after the Yanks were throttled 5-1 by Colombia on Saturday, but the fact that they’ll square off against a loaded Brazil side means things aren’t going to be any easier. While Brazil has struggled early in World Cup qualifying, it will likely run out a front three of Rodrygo, Vinicius Jr., and Raphina that’s capable of causing plenty of damage. Brazil prefers to control the ball and build from the back with short passing movements, but has no qualms about ceding possession and breaking on the counter, something that caused no shortage of issues for the U.S. against Colombia.

Valencia Fans Convicted of Racial Abuse

A trio of Valencia fans will serve eight months in prison after being convicted of racially abusing Vinicius Jr. Additionally, they are barred from entering soccer stadiums for two years and will pay for court proceedings. The convictions are the first for racism in professional soccer in Spain, and a case was opened after the fans made monkey noises and gestures during a game in May of 2023. The Brazilian forward in particular has faced racial abuse during his time playing in Spain, but he’s far from the only player, as the trial for a fan accused of abusing Inaki Williams during a match in 2020 has still yet to even begin.

The Soccer Tournament Concludes

The Soccer Tournament wrapped up Monday night with a pair of engrossing championship matches. In the women’s bracket, US Women defeated the North Carolina Courage 6-3, with Talia Dellapuerta scoring the winning goal. US Women featured United States Women’s National Team greats Heather O’Reilly and Ali Kreiger, and the team won the first women’s edition of the tournament and the $1 million prize that comes with it.

On the men’s side, former Orlando City player Nani and his team, Nani FC, fell to La Bombonera, which scored mere minutes into the match and never looked back on its way to a convincing 4-0 win. La Bombonera becomes the second team to win it all following Newtown Pride FC’s victory in last year’s inaugural tournament.

Free Kicks


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

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