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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Philadelphia Union: Player Grades and Man of the Match



Winning is fun. Orlando City got back on track yesterday with a big 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Union in Exploria Stadium. After three disappointing results on the bounce, getting a win over another top side in the standings is a massive confidence boost. Orlando did a much better job controlling and using possession to attack the Union and held off a handful of quality chances to secure all three points.

How did each Lion fare in one of Orlando’s biggest wins of the season?


GK, Pedro Gallese, 8 — It’s great having an elite goalkeeper back between the sticks. Gallese wasn’t asked to do a lot for most of the game, but when Philadelphia got its chances, El Pulpo was there. Gallese made four saves in the game, including multiple huge stops in tight towards the end of the match to secure all three points. His reaction time is ridiculous and He did concede a goal, but that’s not on the goalkeeper. 

D, Joao Moutinho, 7 — Good performance for Moutinho as he continues his run of consistent game time. He continues to be a solid asset in possession, completing 50 passes in this game, and pushed a little more forward with a completed cross and a successful dribble. At times, he showed flashes of the technical quality and attacking instincts that made him such a weapon for Orlando in seasons past. Defensively, it was a bit of a mixed bag. Moutinho had a pretty solid night with three successful tackles, three interceptions, four ball recoveries, and two clearances, but there were quite a few times, particularly in the second half, when he would be caught out and give too much space in behind. Also, Philadelphia’s goal came from a missed clearance by Moutinho, so that’s a negative as well. 

D, Robin Jansson, 7 — Somewhat quiet — except for a smashed nose — but quality performance for Jansson on Thursday night. He was good on the ball again, completing 95% of his 37 passes, and his defensive stats continue to impress, with another seven clearances and four ball recoveries in this game. I don’t know of a time Jansson was out of position or got beat by his man in this game as he continues to be an elite MLS center back. Let’s hope his nose is all right after that collision with Rodrigo Schlegel late in this game. 

D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 6.5 — Schlegel always gives a strong performance when he’s called upon, and Thursday was no exception. He was good defensively in this game and made eight clearances and a tackle. While he’s not a great on-ball presence, he did complete 22 passes at 85% and cycled possession well. Towards the latter stages of the game, he did have some shaky defensive moments, including getting beat to a ball in the box for Philadelphia’s goal and getting caught high stepping to the ball opening space in behind, but in general Schlegel had a tidy game in this one. 

D, Kyle Smith, 7.5 — Kyle Smith played hero at the end in this game after a good overall performance. His goal line clearance at the end, while not incredibly acrobatic or spectacular, showed good defensive instincts and the type of gritty play that makes Smith such a beloved player on this team. It’s not always pretty with El Soldado, but it’s usually pretty effective. His defensive work, including another clearance and five ball recoveries, was business as usual for Smith. What was surprising was some of his offensive play including two successful dribbles, one of which was a great bit of skill. His crossing remains a blight on his resume, with none of his three crosses finding a target. Smith also completed 28 of 37 passes (76%), including a key pass.   

MF, Andres Perea, 8 — The young midfielder continues to impress this season. His moment of the match came in the 59th minute when he got his head on an excellent Nani cross and perfectly placed it in the far corner. I did not know Perea had that in his locker and it was a treat to see. Perea continues to be solid on the ball, completing a lot of efficient short passes and clean half-turns into space on the dribble. In this game he completed 41 passes at 87%, including a key pass, and he also cleaned up with solid defensive work, including a clearance, an interception, and nine ball recoveries. There were times he was sloppy in possession or put a foot wrong defensively, but it was a great overall performance in the center of the park for Perea. 

MF, Uri Rosell, 7 — Solid if unspectacular performance from Rosell. He’s the type of player whose impact isn’t super noticeable, as he mostly retains possession or closes off space defensively — all things he did pretty well! He completed 35 passes, mostly short passes in Orlando’s half, but also helped hold possession when the Lions pushed forward. Rosell also made five ball recoveries and an interception defensively. A good, complementary game for him as he too works back into consistent MLS minutes. 

MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 8 (MotM) — Just a few days after I criticized his largely lackluster season, El Maestro put on a show against the Union. His assist was absolutely spectacular, with an inch-perfect pass through the teeth of the Philadelphia back line to the foot of Benji Michel. Pereyra was much more involved in the game, controlling the tempo and the attack. He completed 37 passes at an efficient 90% rate and most of them were in the opposition half. He even had a solid chance on goal in the first half, the one real weakness to his game. If there was any real problem with Pereyra’s performance it was the second half. He ran out of steam toward the end and wasn’t as dynamic. And of course we have to mention the yellow card which will see him suspended for Sunday’s match, though to blame Pereyra for that would be harsh, as it was barely any contact and extreme embellishment on the part of Jose Martinez. 

MF, Benji Michel, 7.5 — It starts with his well-taken goal in the 10th minute. Michel made a great darting run in behind the Philadelphia defense and after a fantastic ball from Pereyra, he coolly slotted it home to the far post. Michel was also impressive in other aspects of the attack as well, providing a creative spark from the left wing, even registering a key pass. He completed 29 passes at a solid 83% and completed a dribble. Michel also got back and did his defensive duties with two tackles and four ball recoveries. This was yet another good performance for Michel, who is increasingly looking like a regular starter for this team. He did pick up a yellow card for taking off his shin guards as he came off the pitch.

F, Chris Mueller, 6 — Quiet night for Mueller in his first game following news of an impending transfer to Scottish side Hibernian and in a rare appearance up top. In 70-plus minutes of action, Cash failed to register a shot or key pass. He was also fairly sloppy, being dispossessed once and losing most of his duels. To his credit, he did create a half-chance with an aggressive run into the box before sliding it across to Nani who had the ball knocked away. Mueller also completed 15 of 21 passes (71%), drew a foul, and made a ball recovery. 

F, Nani, 7.5 — This did not start as a particularly great game for Nani. He was sloppy and largely unproductive for most of the early going, but a player like Nani only needs a few moments to make his impact felt. His assist to Perea off a recycled set piece was the little bit of brilliance we’ve come to expect from the captain. There was a run in the second half where he was clearly the best player on the field and exploited an overmatched Philly defense. Nani was also heavily involved in possession, completing 41 passes and five dribbles. He also chipped in a little defensively with a clearance and two ball recoveries. Far from perfect, but still another magical night for Nani. 


F, Silvester van der Water (73’), 6 — Nothing much to say for van der Water. Since his early breakout, he’s regressed hard to the mean and has been pretty much a non-presence, including in this game. Granted, he wasn’t asked to do much and the team played a rather defensive shape most of the time he was out there. In total he completed a dribble plus all five of his passes and made an interception. Not terrible, but far from impactful. 

D, Antonio Carlos (73’), 6.5 — Welcome back! Antonio Carlos has been out of the lineup since a scary looking injury against the New York Red Bulls back on July 3, and he got about 20 minutes of action under his belt in his return to the field. He made an excellent play to put the ball out of play at the end of the match, ending any chance at another last-gasp attack from the Union. Outside of that, he wasn’t asked to do all that much but looked good. Carlos completed nine passes, made two clearances, one interception, and a ball recovery.

F, Tesho Akindele (78’), 6.5 — Much like Carlos, Tesho had little to do in this game, but helped seal the deal with his excellent defensive work rate. While he only completed four passes and didn’t create anything offensively, he also made a clearance and ball recovery. 

MF, Joey DeZart (78’), 6.5 — DeZart isn’t a particularly dynamic player, but he’s a solid young option. In one of his longer Orlando City appearances, the second-year midfielder was good with the ball, completing five of six passes and helping the Lions see out the lead. 

F, Alexander Alvarado (83’), N/A — Alvarado made a late cameo to give Nani a much-needed rest. The Ecuadorian completed three passes in his short time on the field.

That’s how I saw Thursday’s match, but what did you see? Comment your ratings below and make sure to vote for your Man of the Match.

Polling Closed

Mauricio Pereyra10
Pedro Gallese31
Andres Perea12
Other (Comment Below)10

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!

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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!

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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.

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