Connect with us

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Inter Miami CF: Player Grades and Man of the Match



It wasn’t always pretty, but Orlando City got the job done and capped off a brutal stretch of three games in seven days, taking all nine possible points. The tired legs nearly got to Orlando, but the Lions’ individual quality and Miami’s shortcomings helped propel Orlando to a memorable 2-1 comeback victory in the quickly intensifying Florida Derby.

How did each Lion fare in Friday’s victory?


GK, Brandon Austin, 6.5 — I’m starting to like Austin. He’s not an elite MLS goalkeeper, but for a young, inexperienced player, he’s pretty good. He made one excellent early save off Jay Chapman and another easy save off a Chapman long shot later in the game. However, he should’ve done better on the Higuain goal. It was a well-placed strike, but from that distance and with that pace on the ball, you expect your keeper to have that one. Despite that, his distribution was good, completing 25 passes, including six long balls, at a 93% rate. He’s good with his feet, something that gives Orlando plenty of flexibility playing out of the back, and his shot stopping has been good enough for a backup.

D, Michael Halladay, 7 — Halladay made just his second MLS start in a primetime, rivalry showdown and held his own against admittedly weak opposition. He did occasionally struggle to contain former Lion Brek Shea, but mostly he handled his business on the right flank. He made two tackles, an interception, five ball recoveries, and two clearances. His offensive performance wasn’t great, but he did get into dangerous positions overlapping from the right. He just didn’t have the vision or quality to find the final ball. He completed 20 of 27 passes (74%) for the game. 

D, Robin Jansson, 8 — Great shift from the big Swede. His penetrating long balls played a huge factor in this game, particularly on Orlando’s opening goal. He spotted the run in behind by Nani and put it on a rope for the captain who made some magic of his own. Jansson completed four long balls and 65 passes in total, with a completion percentage of 94%. Defensively, he was rock solid as well, making two clearances and four ball recoveries, winning three tackles, and making four interceptions. That’s an enormous defensive stat sheet from the Viking and excellent work with the ball. You can’t ask for much more from a center back. 

D, Antonio Carlos, 7 — Solid game from Antonio Carlos. He wasn’t particularly influential with the ball, but recycled possession well, completing 59 passes at 92%, including five long balls. Defensively, he was reliable, even if his stat sheet isn’t as stuffed as his center back partner. He made three clearances, two interceptions, and three ball recoveries. He did his job and Orlando got the result. 

D, Kyle Smith, 7 — Kyle Smith did not have his best game of the season against Miami. Especially in the first half, he struggled to contain Lewis Morgan and his sloppy touches and passes put Orlando in serious danger. To his credit, he pulled it around by the end of the game, and put in a solid if unspectacular performance. He made an impressive three tackles, four clearances, one interception, and 11 ball recoveries — all excellent figures. With the ball, he was less impressive. While he did complete 62 passes at 89%, it was mostly just recycling possession and he never provided an offensive threat. A part of that is tactical. The left back on this team typically plays almost as a third center back in possession, but it’s also Smith’s lack of offensive prowess. Joao Moutinho still makes an impact offensively in that reserved role, Smith didn’t. That’s all mostly nit-picky. In all, it was a solid, no-nonsense performance from El Soldado. 

MF, Andres Perea, 8 — I loved what Andres Perea did for Orlando in this game. Playing in Sebas Mendez’s deeper midfield role, Perea was orchestrating the game and cleaning up mistakes in the back end. Defensively, he won two tackles, made an interception, and made a whopping 16 ball recoveries. In possession, he was excellent, completing 90% of his 67 passes, including four successful long balls and a key pass. He nearly created a goal to ice the game late on a breakaway run and completed two dribbles on the night. I might have a slightly rosy picture of Perea’s game, as he was dispossessed three times and both he and Urso were occasionally poor at stopping the ball as it entered dangerous areas, but I can’t help but praise an exceptional performance from the young U.S. international.

MF, Junior Urso, 5 — Urso has played so much the last couple of weeks, he was bound for a slightly down game. He was sloppy in possession, making a few dangerous turnovers, and didn’t have the legs to consistently track runners, including on Higuain’s goal. However, his overall game was not terrible. His stat sheet is among the most impressive on the team. He racked up three key passes, completed two dribbles, made 10 ball recoveries, had three — largely wasteful — shots, drew three fouls, and completed 36 of 43 passes (84%). Of everyone on this list, Urso will be the most divisive. Could he have been better? Yes, and if Orlando had a little more depth available in midfield, he wouldn’t have started, but it was still a solid shift from the Bear. 

MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 4.5 — I was not impressed by Pereyra’s performance in the slightest. Maybe that’s overly negative, but the Uruguayan was lacking sharpness all night. Granted, he was dealing with a knock and arguably shouldn’t have even played. He only completed 75% of his 16 passes and didn’t have any key passes or chances created. His sloppiness nearly got him in trouble, with a late challenge following a turnover resulting in a yellow card. Pereyra was not good enough tonight, and while it might not have been entirely his fault, it was a tough outing.

MF, Silvester van der Water, 5 — Similar to Pereyra, van der Water was massively disappointing in his 45 minutes of action. To his credit, he was active and got into good areas, but his delivery in the final third was poor. None of his three crosses were accurate, he failed to register a shot, and completed only one of three dribbles. He only completed 12 of his 18 passes (67%) passes for the game. He did make an interception and three ball recoveries, and drew two fouls. 

F, Nani, 9 (MotM) — What more can we say about this guy? Even on a slightly off night when he and his team were clearly exhausted, Nani’s quality still shines through. The goal was absolutely fantastic, nobody stopped the ball and Nani just ripped the top corner. He was also instrumental in the first goal, making a darting run in behind that Jansson picked out, before dropping a peach of an assist off the volley to the foot of Chris Mueller. Throughout the game, Nani was teasing a big moment with several half chances on audacious efforts and was awarded in the end. The captain finished with five shots, three on target, two key passes, completed 28 of 42 passes (67%), made a tackle and had four ball recoveries. If anyone is having an MLS MVP conversation that doesn’t include Nani, they’re just wrong. 

F, Daril Dike, 5.5 — It was a quiet second start for Daryl Dike in Ft. Lauderdale. He only had 14 touches all game, no shots, and struggled to find his feet in the game. He completed two of six passes, but one of them triggered a breakaway off a set piece. Despite his lack of service, he was still a handful for Miami, drawing two fouls and consistently occupying the center backs. He also made a headed clearance and a tackle before being subbed off for Tesho Akindele.


M, Chris Mueller (45’), 8 — Probably the best game of the season so far for Mueller. He finally got his goal, finishing Nani’s unreal pass into the box. Outside of that, he just added so much energy and a real spark offensively. He nearly had another goal, only denied by a great kick save by John McCarthy, and finished with three shots. The one thing Mueller needed this year was that aggression and decisiveness and it was finally on display against Miami. He also completed a cross, nine of 12 passes (75%), drew a foul, made a headed clearance, and made a ball recovery. This was vintage super-sub Mueller, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. 

F, Benji Michel (45’), 7.5 — Benji was similar to Chris Mueller, providing a much needed spark after an ugly first half. His strength and dribbling ability gave Orlando a more direct outlet and helped get the best out of Nani. He had the assist on Nani’s game-winning scorcher and finished with two key passes (completed 76% of his 17 passes in total). He also made a tackle, a ball recovery and a headed clearance. This has been a fantastic stretch of games for Michel. He’s still not the cleanest player on this team, but his energy and ability to beat players or make a play on the wing has been spectacular. 

F, Tesho Akindele (64’), 6.5 — Tesho didn’t do much in his 25 minutes of action. Only 10 touches for the Canadian international, including three completed passes, but his off-ball play helped Orlando finish the game. He also won a pair of aerial duels and made a ball recovery. Most importantly, his time wasting was impressive late in the game, showing that veteran cheekiness you want from Tesho.

MF, Uri Rosell (77’), 5 — Honestly, I didn’t really notice Uri in his limited run. He completed two of four passes, and made a tackle and ball recovery. The biggest impact he had on the game was a nearly disastrous giveaway just above his own penalty box. Fortunately, Orlando snuffed out the danger and got the ball out, with the play ending with Nani’s goal.

MF, Joey DeZart (84’), N/A — It was the fifth cameo appearance of the year for DeZart. He didn’t have much to do, mostly just staying in the defensive shape. He completed a pass and could’ve had a late goal-scoring opportunity if Perea had passed him the ball on his late breakaway.

That’s how I thought everyone rated last night, but what did you see? Leave your thoughts below and make sure to vote for your Man of the Match.

Polling Closed

Chris Mueller3
Andres Perea0
Robin Jansson6

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Inter Miami: Three Keys to Victory

Here are three things the Lions need to do in order to set themselves up for a win over Inter Miami.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Wednesday’s match didn’t go the way anyone hoped it would, but now it’s time to turn our attention to a Sunday matchup with Inter Miami back in the comfortable confines of Exploria Stadium. What follows are three things that I believe will go a long way toward helping the Lions emerge victorious from the Tropic Thunder derby and keeping Florida purple.

Close Down Sergio Busquets

As many headlines as Lionel Messi has rightfully been getting since joining Major League Soccer, I think Busquets is just as important to Miami’s success. He remains an excellent midfielder and his ability to transition the team from defense into attack and link the two lines together is crucial. He has two assists and eight key passes in six MLS appearances and is passing with 92% accuracy —if you give him time, he will make you pay. Even if Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena mark him tightly, he’ll still manage to find space at times and affect the game because he’s that good of a player. But the Lions cannot afford to repeatedly give him time and space to get on the ball, pick up his head, and play a pass or he’ll cut OCSC to ribbons. Getting tight to him and making his life difficult won’t stop him every time, but it’ll make life a hell of a lot easier. As soon as Orlando loses the ball in Miami’s half, someone needs to find no. 5 and close him down.

Play With an Edge, but Don’t Go Over It

This is likely going to be an extremely, fast, physical and heated game. These two teams don’t have any love lost for each other, and if last game is any indication, then Orlando is going to try to use its physicality to disrupt Miami from playing its brand of soccer. That’s not a bad strategy, and it’s one that was largely working during the aforementioned Leagues Cup match until the penalty kick call in the second half. If the Lions are going to try to repeat the tactic, then they need to play with physicality and intensity while toeing the line of what’s acceptable to do during a soccer game. Going down a man isn’t going to do OCSC any favors, so the boys in purple are going to have to flirt with the edge of the cliff without falling headfirst over it.

Stay Organized Defensively

We’ve seen some shaky defending during Orlando’s last two matches. Runners in behind were a particular problem during the match against the Columbus Crew, while Wednesday’s loss to NYCFC saw Talles Magno largely unmarked between two Orlando defenders to score the header that sealed the Lions’ fate. OCSC will likely still be without Antonio Carlos, but the Lions are capable of much better defending than they’ve done during the last week and they need to show it. Even if Lionel Messi doesn’t play, Miami has a whole host of guys who can hurt you in Josef Martinez, Leonardo Campana, Benjamin Cremaschi, Robert Taylor and Facundo Farias. The Lions need to be much more keyed in on defense than they have been the last two games, otherwise one or more of those guys is going to make them pay. Orlando has the firepower to put the ball in the back of the net, but it won’t matter if the team is giving up multiple preventable goals at the other end of the field.

If the Lions execute those three things then they’ve got as good a chance as any of getting a result on Sunday. Vamos Orlando!

Continue Reading

Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/22/23

Orlando City prepares for Inter Miami, MLS NEXT Pro Decision Day is Sunday, USWNT wins against South Africa, and much more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B / Mark Thor

Happy Friday! It’s been a pretty busy week of apartment hunting and work for me, so I’m looking forward to some rest and relaxation this weekend. I don’t have many plans, but I did make sure to carve out a few hours to make a drink and get some reading done. My book club is fairly low maintenance, but I’ll be behind if I don’t finish Fourth Wing before the second book in the series comes out in November. Let’s get into today’s links!

Orlando City Takes On Inter Miami This Weekend

Following a 2-0 loss on the road to New York City FC earlier this week, Orlando City will aim to bounce back when it hosts rival Inter Miami this Sunday. Orlando has a chance to set club records for the most wins and points in a season since it joined MLS in 2015. It will be the third meeting between the two clubs this season, with Orlando beating Miami 3-1 in May before falling 3-1 in the Leagues Cup’s knockout stage. Although Miami will be without Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba according to Head Coach Tata Martino, the Herons still have plenty of attacking talent in the form of Sergio Busquets, Leonardo Campana, and Josef Martinez.

Orlando City B Readies for MLS NEXT Pro Decision Day

Sunday will also be the final day of the MLS NEXT Pro regular season, with nearly every team in action. Here’s everything you need to know about Decision Day across the league, with playoff spots still up for grabs. Orlando City B has already clinched its spot in the postseason, but can secure fifth in the Eastern Conference when it takes on FC Cincinnati 2. However, the difference between fifth and a lower seed won’t matter too much due to a new rule this year where the second and third seed in each conference choose which lower seed it wants to host in the playoffs. The Golden Boot race is competitive as well, with OCB’s Jack Lynn tied at the top with New York City FC II’s Matt Myers. We’ll see if Lynn takes part in Sunday’s match after giving the first team needed depth last weekend.

USWNT Beats South Africa in Julie Ertz’s Finale

The United States Women’s National Team won 3-0 against South Africa in the first of two friendlies this month. All three of the USWNT’s goals came in the first half, with Lynn Williams bagging a brace. In her final USWNT game, Julie Ertz started and earned plenty of applause from the crowd at TQL Stadium when she was subbed off in the 36h minute. M.A. Vignola made her USWNT debut in the match as well, coming on at halftime. The two nations will play again on Sunday in what will be forward Megan Rapinoe’s last game with the USWNT.

Europa League Group Stage Kicks Off

The first round of Europa League group stage matches is over, with all 32 teams getting things started across Europe. Brighton & Hove Albion’s first Europa League match was a rough one, as the English club fell 3-2 at home against AEK Athens. The Spanish clubs also struggled, with Villarreal getting shut out 2-0 by Panathinaikos and Real Betis losing 1-0 to Rangers. Elsewhere, AS Roma beat Sheriff Tiraspol 2-1 thanks to a winner from Romelu Lukaku, Liverpool won 3-1 over Austrian club LASK after trailing early on, and Marseille drew 3-3 with Ajax in a thriller. West Ham, Atalanta, Bayer Leverkusen, and SC Freiburg also won their group openers.

Free Kicks

  • Enjoy the sights and sounds from the Orlando City Foundation’s annual celebrity golf and footgolf tournament.

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

Continue Reading

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. New York City FC: Player Grades and Man of the Match

How did your favorite Lions rate in Orlando City’s 2-0 loss against NYCFC?



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Despite Orlando City being the best road team in MLS, the club fell 2-0 to New York City FC. The Lions still officially punched their ticket into the playoffs thanks to D.C. United drawing Atlanta United elsewhere in the Eastern Conference. The Lions battled throughout the night on the baseball diamond of Citi Field but were unable to find the soccer goal. It will be a quick turnaround now as the team needs to regroup before Sunday’s home match against rival Inter Miami.

Let’s take a look at how Orlando City’s players rated individually in the defeat.


GK, Pedro Gallese, 7.5 (MotM)  The foul in the box by by Ramiro Enrique led to Gallese needing to make a big play against Santiago Rodriguez’s spot kick. Unfortunately, Gallese couldn’t control the rebound on his diving save, leading to a tap-in header that he really could do nothing about. El Pulpo’s services were called upon four minutes in against former teammate Andres Perea from point-blank range, and then again in the 51st and 52nd minutes when the Octopus was able to make strong-handed saves. However, in the 68th minute, a perfectly placed Talles Magno header was placed where the Peruvian couldn’t make the stop. I don’t think either of the goals were his fault, nor would your favorite worldbeater goalkeeper abroad have stopped them. For that, Gallese is my Man of the Match for having made five saves in total and passing at an 81.1% rate while completing six of his 11 long balls.

D, Rafael Santos, 5.5 — The left back spent much of the first 20 minutes of the match getting faked and dribbled around down the channel. He continually jumped at a feinted cross or turned his back only for his man to dribble into an even more dangerous location inside the box. For a player who has been solid over the last few matches, Santos sure did look shaky and mentally unready for his matchup. His lone shot attempt was off target. He was 2-for-2 on crossing accuracy but just one of his four long balls found their target, while his overall passing rate was a lowly 65.4%, including one key pass. Defensively, he contributed two tackles, two clearances, and a foul while being fouled once himself.

D, Robin Jansson, 6 — It isn’t often that I look back on a match and can’t personally think of any Jansson highlights. He was definitely out there on the pitch, but he never stepped up above and beyond the call of duty like he is known to do. He likely escaped a garbage time yellow card while berating referee Ismail Elfath, but thankfully James Sands stepped in to push the Beefy Swede away to safety. Jansson had one tackle, a clearance, and a blocked shot. He passed at 84.6%, but only two of his 11 long balls were accurate. No wonder Facundo Torres was disappointed every time a deep ball came his way, as chance after chance was uncharacteristically wasted by Jansson.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 4.5 — It is never a great sign in a losing match when a center back doesn’t log a single tackle. It usually means they are whiffing, getting out-dribbled, or caught out of position. At times, it seems like each of those could have been the case for Schlegel in this match. Orlando might not get Antonio Carlos back this season, but if that is the case, then Schlegel has to do better, especially as he led the team with 92 touches. He was completely unaware of Magno on the second NYCFC goal and was part of a defense that fell asleep often on set pieces. He did offer one key pass, but his only shot missed the frame. He passed at an 84.5% rate, but like his counterpart, also struggled to connect on long balls. Rodri landed only three of 10 attempts. His two interceptions and two clearances might be the only things that help him save face on the night.

D/MF, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 6 — Dagur Dan’s first dangerous look of the night came in the 22nd minute as a ball deflected out to him just outside box. The hybrid wingback whipped a curling ball just inside the six-yard box that Enrique barely missed connecting on, which would have opened the scoring on the night. From that point forward, it was much of what we have been seeing from the Icelandic midfielder. He drifts wide to defend and then slides a bit more interior on the attack. I don’t hate it, but I also didn’t love it on a pitch where the small size already clogs the center of the park. He only offered one clearance in his defensive statistics. Offensively, he had a key pass, a through ball, and completed two dribbles. He also passed at an 88.6% rate on 44 attempts and was one-for-two on his crosses.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 6 — At times it seems the Uruguayan goes down softly despite being a bruiser in the defensive midfield on his own. I don’t necessarily hate it, as he does a great job slowing down the game at times when he rolls over, but there were a couple moments in this match where I wish he would have stood his ground and knocked the ball on forward to his teammates for a quick counter opportunity. Either way, Araujo drew a team-high four fouls yet again on the opposition. His passing was a respectable 86.8% on 53 attempts, and two of five long balls found their mark. His failure to properly mark Birk Risa on a set piece late in the game nearly cost Orlando City a third goal conceded. He made one clean tackle but also gave two fouls up. He took one shot on the night and would have done better to lay it off to a couple other Lions in the area.

MF, Wilder Cartagena, 5.5 — The Brazilian almost incited a riot on the pitch by running through a Pigeon after the whistle, but to be fair, it was a bang-bang play and he was coming in at full speed already. It didn’t take long after for Cartagena to earn his yellow card. He was fouled twice but gave three total himself. He also stepped up twice to clear the ball out of danger. With his 30 touches, he passed 20 times at 85% success but neither of his two crosses found a teammate.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 6.5 — I feel bad for players with attributes like Angulo when they have to play on the baseball fields. While he has the pace and could likely steal home, it doesn’t translate when you’re playing soccer in a compact outfield. His biggest strength is a push-and-go into space but that just isn’t available in Citi Field. Angulo did put his only shot on target when he was able to get involved in the attack. He also had one key pass in his 18 passing attempts (88.9%). Defensively, he made a pair of tackles and an interception. Angulo drew one foul.

MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 6 — The midfield maestro popped in and out of the half spaces throughout the night to distribute from one side of the pitch to the other. He led the team with three shots but not one of them was on target. With 53 touches on the ball, he was able to complete 80% of his 35 passes and one of two long balls, but he was sloppy in terms of staying on the ball too long at times, having two unstable touches and getting dispossessed twice. While it will go down in the match notes as a yellow card for persistent infringement, the referee was likely just trying to slow down a match that was beginning to get a little too chippy for his liking. The attacking midfielder put up a team-high four tackles in addition to his clearance and three fouls. Sometimes your skipper has to do the dirty work, and I’m ok with that.

MF, Facundo Torres, 6.5 — The Designated Player had a mixed bag in the first half, as his teammates seemed to miss him with their long passes. But down 1-0 at the start of the second half, Torres found a low driven cross slightly behind him just outside the six-yard box that he wasn’t able to put on frame. When he was on the ball though, he completed two dribbles and made three key passes to go with his two-for-three crossing and one-for-one long ball percentages. In total, 91.4% of his 35 passes completed which isn’t bad at all for only 46 total touches.

F, Ramiro Enrique, 4.5 — It wasn’t just the tackle in the box that caused Enrique to give up a penalty, but it was his errant pass that he attempted to lay off to Dagur Dan first. Ultimately, both errors equated to what was NYCFC’s first goal. I would like to say the poor play stopped there for him, but he blew what could have been a couple golden chances by dribbling too long and failing to see the open man to pass to. It truly is sad to see how a Player of the Matchday fell from his pedestal just days later. He was taken off after 58 minutes with just 16 touches to his name. Despite winning three aerial duels and making a clearance, his lowly 70% passing rating, missed cross, missed shot, and critical foul conceded really put a damper on his stats. If there was such an award that equates to opposite of MotM, I unfortunately have to cast it upon the MLS U22 Initiative forward.


MF, Martin Ojeda (59′), 6.5 — Ojeda replaced Cartagena as Orlando City had fallen behind by a goal and the Lions needed to create more offensive chances. While he did create one key pass, the Designated Player only found himself on the ball 22 times in his late minutes. He completed 66.7% of his 12 passes and completed his only long ball attempt, but was one-for-six with his crossing and didn’t attempt a shot. Defensively, Ojeda had one tackle and an interception.

D, Luca Petrasso (59′), 5.5 — The Canadian came on and just under 10 minutes later lost a 50-50 aerial battle in the channel which became a crossed ball to Magno that was headed in for the Pigeons second goal of the match. Petrasso took one shot that was blocked, but he had Torres standing right next to him, who would have been the better option. While he lost the only aerial that really mattered, he did win one of his own though, to go along with two tackles and a clearance. He missed his long ball and cross attempts but landed 88.9% of his 18 passes.

F, Duncan McGuire (59′), 5 — Big Dunc is back, but the Big Dunc Energy was not. With only six touches and no shots across more than half an hour, the striker should be disappointed with his impact. His only stats contributed were a successful long ball and an 83.3% success rate on just six passing attempts.

D, Michael Halliday (80′), N/A — The Homegrown right back came on to provide some late fresh legs while the Lions attempted to come from behind. It was a little too late for Halliday to make a real impact on his own. In his time, he managed 15 touches, won an aerial, passed at a 75% rate, and recorded a clearance.

MF, Gastón González (80′), N/A — The Argentinian winger made his return to the pitch after a lengthy injury period to garner a few minutes and get his legs back under him. His only shot was on target, which is hopefully a great sign for the future. He had seven total touches, completing both of his passes, but missed his only cross. He also gave up one foul.

That’s how I saw the individual performances on Wednesday night as Orlando City fell to expansion rival NYCFC. What did I get right/wrong in your view? Be sure to vote for your Man of the Match in our poll below and provide your thoughts in the comments section.

Continue Reading