Connect with us

Orlando City

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



That sucked. After a great win against the Philadelphia Union on Thursday, a hodgepodge Orlando City lineup got absolutely dusted in a 5-0 loss by a good New York City FC side in Yankee Stadium. Orlando was without its top offensive weapons and had so few players available that it put two goalkeepers on the bench.

This was one to forget, so let’s see how everybody played in this one.


GK, Pedro Gallese, 7 (MoTM)  — Gallese wasn’t his best in this game, but was easily Orlando’s best player. In the first half, he was a wall, keeping a lackluster Orlando side alive with multiple huge stops. He probably could’ve done better on at least one or two of New York’s goals, especially the third, but I’m not going to criticize him too much. The team around him collapsed and he had to make nine saves, eight of which were in the box. He completed 20 of 29 passes for a 69% success rate, including nine accurate long balls in a performance that was pretty on par from him in terms of distribution. 

D, Emmanuel Mas, 5 — The left back’s debut in MLS was solid. He didn’t look the part of an offensively-adept overlapping fullback, but he did well in a defensive role that was similar to a third center back. Mas made a handful of defensively savvy plays that you hope to see from an experienced player and his positioning disrupted a quality chance on goal for New York and helped clean up a rebound on a great Gallese save. However, when Orlando had the ball, Mas wasn’t particularly good. He completed only 57% of his 21 passes and didn’t do anything offensively. In 57 minutes of play, he finished with a tackle, an interception, and two clearances. It was a solid, although unspectacular, debut for the Argentine.

D, Antonio Carlos, 4.5 — This is the worst game Antonio Carlos has ever played for Orlando City. To his credit, he made several good plays, particularly in the first half, but as the game descended into disaster, he completely fell apart. Two of New York’s goals can be pegged on him, although the first also came from him being grabbed and pushed by Valentin Castellanos. Carlos didn’t look anywhere near the player he can be in the second half. Even when passing the ball he wasn’t particularly good, only completing 77% of his 35 passes. Carlos had no tackles in the match, but had four interceptions and six clearances.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 5.5 — This game was one of Schlegel’s weaker performances as a Lion. He occasionally got caught upfield or would put a foot wrong, giving NYCFC dangerous space to attack into. To his credit, he continues to stuff the stat sheet defensively, with three tackles, seven clearances, and an interception. When defending becomes desperate, Schlegel is good at making the necessary play. Like Carlos, he had a hard time building out of the back, with only 74% of his 34 passes finding their mark. Schlegel wasn’t good per se, but there were certainly worse performances on this team. 

D, Kyle Smith, 5 — It was not a great performance from Smith. He finally received a rest in this game, only playing the first half, and he definitely warranted the substitution. He completed 55% of his 22 passes and wasn’t much of a presence pushing forward with one attempted cross that was unsuccessful. His defensive work left something to be desired as he had no tackles or interceptions and made one clearance. NYCFC was dangerous attacking down Smith’s right flank and while he wasn’t terrible, he hardly shut things down. With all that being said, he gets some slack considering the sheer number of minutes he’s played this season.. 

MF, Andres Perea, 4.5 — Perea wasn’t good in this game. He had an excellent chance right on the doorstep to open the second half and perhaps could have changed the tone of the match, but couldn’t get a quality shot on the ball and hit it right at Luis Barraza. If he gets that ball just past the keeper, this could have been a much different game. Despite playing in a key midfield spot, Perea was barely involved in possession, only completing 14 of 18 passes in 90 minutes. That’s nowhere near good enough for a central midfielder, even if he was tasked with a more offensive role in this game. He completed one of his two attempted dribbles, made a clearance, and pressed the ball well, but his impact was barely felt throughout this game.

MF, Uri Rosell, 4 — Maybe I’m a little too harsh here, but I was thoroughly unimpressed with Rosell in this game. His lack of pace cost him when he got caught upfield and he provided next to nothing in terms of tenacity in the middle of the park. Keaton Parks and the rest of the NYCFC midfield were able to cut through Orlando City and routinely run into open space. The entire team is responsible for that, but Rosell was, to me at least, the most noticeably poor of the bunch. Rosell is a player whose passing ability typically compensates for his lack of defensive chops, but he only completed 78% of his 32 passes — though that was still fourth best on the team out of anyone who played more than half the game — and struggled to maintain possession or break the NYCFC defense. Defensively, he did chip in with three tackles.

MF, Joey DeZart, 5 — I like DeZart and thought he showed flashes of quality in this game, but it wasn’t good enough. He’s a solid linking player, but lacks the ability to control the game with his passing. He completed 93% of his 27 passes, including a key pass. DeZart was a little too conservative with his passing and was generally too slow with the ball, being dispossessed twice. His technical ability is good, but the speed at which he plays and sees the game was not at an MLS level in this game. Defensively, he made eight ball recoveries, but got walked through at times alongside Rosell. He also had a shot, but it wasn’t much of a chance. In a better lineup, DeZart could be a solid role player, but in this setup, he lacked the quality the Lions needed. 

MF, Alexander Alvarado, 6 — It was the first MLS start for the Ecuadorian winger and it wasn’t bad. In a terrible offensive performance for Orlando City, Alvarado was the closest thing to a threat offensively. He created one of the only good chances for the Lions in the game, sliding Silvester van der Water in behind with a good through ball, and looked comfortable and occasionally dangerous with the ball. He completed 17 of his 21 passes for an 81% success rate and drew four fouls. However, Alvarado is still a little too slow with the ball and has a tendency to turn the ball over, being dispossessed twice in this game. He did make an interception and three ball recoveries defensively. 

F, Silvester van der Water, 6 — The Dutchman wasn’t outright bad in this game, but he hasn’t come close to his early season form. In his first few appearances, van der Water looked like a dynamic playmaker out wide, but he’s created nothing for himself or others in recent weeks. In one half of action, he only had 19 touches, but several of those were promising. He had a shot that forced a save out of Barraza, as well as a key pass and three successful long balls. For all the good some of these underlying stats show, he just wasn’t a particularly effective wide forward. Maybe if he continues to build his fitness and acclimate to Orlando and MLS he can perform more consistently, but right now he’s not much of a weapon for Orlando. He completed nine of his 11 passes and also had an interception. 

F, Benji Michel, 4 — Michel was in good form heading into the match, but he was completely ineffective playing up top against New York. He had no service and didn’t get into dangerous areas, registering no shots in 90 minutes. Michel also had a key pass and was successful on one of his four attempted dribbles. He needed to be more dangerous and much better in holdup play. To be fair, this isn’t really his fault as Michel has evolved into a legit inverted winger and isn’t effective as a striker. When Orlando switched to a 3-5-2, Michel looked a lot better, able to drift further wide with more numbers around him in attack. He also got back for some defensive work, finishing with five ball recoveries and a clearance. His passing stats were unsurprisingly low, with only 11 completed passes on 16 attempts for a 69% success rate.


D, Ruan (46’), 5 — Welcome back, Ruan! After a seemingly endless injury absence, the quick Brazilian made his return to the lineup, playing the entire second half. He did look dangerous on a few attacks, burning down the touchline with his blistering pace, but he lacked the final ball. He completed six of nine passes and completed a dribble but never had a big offensive moment. Defensively, he wasn’t great, giving up a lot of space for New York to attack into. He made a clearance, but wasn’t in good positions and made no impact on that side of the ball. But he received minutes and should give Orlando a serious boost once he’s back to his best. 

D, Robin Jansson (46’), 5 — A facemask-wearing Jansson came in to give Orlando a third center back in the second half, but he wasn’t particularly good. While solid with the ball, completing 11 of his 13 passes for an 85% completion rate, Jansson did little to prevent the onslaught from New York late in the half. He made two interceptions and two clearances, but his overall defensive performance left a lot to be desired. I don’t think Jansson was too terrible individually, but he wasn’t at his best and the entire defense was awful. 

D, Joao Moutinho (57’), 5.5 — The left back pushed forward and looked like an offensive threat, even though none of his four crosses found their mark. Moutinho finished with a pair of clearances and he completed eight of his 12 passes. This was a step forward for him as he continued to show some forward thrust, and hopefully he can reach his form from last year in a stronger lineup. 

D, Michael Halliday (69’), 4.5 — The Homegrown Player was on the field for 20 minutes, but was almost completely invisible. Halliday only had seven touches and completed both of his attempted passes. On defense he made a clearance, a ball recovery, and an interception. Frankly, it was an unremarkable outing from the young fullback.

MF, David Loera (69’), 5.5 — Loera has played sparingly for Orlando City, but got about 20 minutes of play in New York. He completed all four of his passes and looked solid on the ball in his eight touches. Loera even put a shot on target, one of just three all game for Orlando. I really wish there was a U.S. Open Cup this season, because that seems like a perfect setting for Loera to receive more minutes. He’s an intriguing player, but might not be good enough to contribute at an MLS level right now.

That’s how I judged this one, what were your thoughts? Leave your ratings below and vote for your man of the match.

Polling Closed

Pedro Gallese35
Alexander Alvarado1
Rodrigo Schlegel1
Other (Comment Below)3

Lion Links

Lion Links: 12/2/23

The Pride sign a new keeper, the MLS playoffs continue, the USWNT is in action, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Salutations on this satisfactory Saturday, Mane Landers. We’re heading for the home stretch of 2023, and what a year it has been. Make sure that you are catching all of our Season in Review articles for both the Orlando City and Orlando Pride players. Things tend to happen personnel-wise in December, so be prepared. Until then, let’s check out today’s links. But first, let’s wish a happy 26th birthday to Orlando City goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar.

Pride Sign a New Keeper

The Orlando Pride signed Finnish goalkeeper Sofia Manner from FC Honka of Finland’s top flight, the Kansallinen Liiga. With the addition of Manner, the Pride have four keepers on the roster heading into 2024. Manner is expected to compete for the starting job, though the same could be said of both Anna Moorhouse and Carly Nelson. It is unlikely all four netminders will be on the Pride once the season starts. Manner has international experience and was the best keeper in the Kansallinen Liiga.

MLS Conference Finals Tonight

I wouldn’t blame you if you decided not to watch the remainder of the MLS playoffs after last weekend’s disappointing result. However, if you are going see how it all sorts out, you might want to study up on the matches. We’re all too aware that the Columbus Crew will be facing FC Cincinnati to see which club wins the Eastern Conference. Over on the other side, LAFC will take on the Houston Dynamo to determine the Western Conference champion.

MLS Player Moves

As the playoffs come to a close, the signings and transfers around the league are ramping up, but who will stay and who will go? New York Red Bulls midfielder Dru Yearwood is heading to Nashville SC as reported by The Athletic (paywalled) since Dax McCarthy is out of contract there and won’t be returning.

The Philadelphia Union have signed midfielder Jesus Bueno to a new three-year contract through 2026 with an option for 2027. Meanwhile, Gustavo Bou won’t be returning to the New England Revolution. So, um…maybe he’d like to come south and score goals for Orlando City rather than against the Lions? Before anyone gets too crazy, it should be on a non-DP deal.

USWNT Hosts China

The USWNT is back in friendly action against China this afternoon in Ft. Lauderdale at 3 p.m. and then on Tuesday, Dec. 5 at 8 p.m. in Frisco TX. Interim head coach Twila Kilgore will be in charge since newly-named Head Coach Emma Hayes doesn’t start until the 2023-2024 Women’s Super League season in England is over. Hayes is the current head coach of Chelsea FC Women’s. This is the first match between the two teams since 2018, and a lot has changed. The USWNT has been very solid on defense in 2023, allowing only two goals back in the SheBelieves Cup.

Free Kicks

  • If you haven’t heard of a “sin bin,” think of it like a penalty box in hockey. The idea has been getting a runout in lower league matches in English football by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) with some good results. It’s not yet confirmed, but MLS may institute the change in 2024. The idea is to reduce dissension by having a player sit for 10 minutes during a match. Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou has spoken out against the idea. What do you think of the concept?
  • Real Salt Lake has promoted Kurt Schmid to sporting director and interim chief soccer officer.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo will have to deal with a $1 billion class-action lawsuit for his role in promoting NFTs for Binance. Maybe that’s why he signed for Al-Nassr in the Saudi Pro League?
  • Speaking of the Saudi Pro League, it looks like Mohamed Salah may not be leaving EPL side Liverpool anytime soon. The prolific striker is looking for a new contract to stay at Anfield.
  • I’ll take things Pedro Gallese would not do for $400, Alex.

That will do it for today. Please go forth and enjoy your weekend!

Continue Reading

Orlando City

2023 Orlando City Season in Review: Kyle Smith

Let’s look back at The Accountant’s fifth MLS season.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Fullback Kyle Smith was originally signed on Dec. 21, 2018 when James O’Connor was Orlando City’s head coach. He proved to be a valuable Swiss Army knife-type player and earned a new contract on March 29, 2021 through the 2022 season with a 2023 club option. Orlando City picked up his 2023 option at the end of the 2022 season but then signed Smith to a new one-year contract for 2023 just weeks later with an option for 2024.

Let’s have a look back at The Accountant’s fifth MLS season.

Statistical Breakdown

Smith appeared in 25 matches during the 2023 regular season, starting 17 times and logging 1,501 minutes. It was his third-most appearances but his second-most minutes since making the jump from Louisville City to MLS ahead of the 2019 season. He scored one goal and assisted on three others, setting a new career high in the latter category. Smith attempted seven shots, putting two on target. He passed at a 78.7% clip, including nine key passes, five successful crosses, and 36 successful long passes. Defensively, Smith recorded 35 tackles, 16 interceptions, 40 clearances, and two blocked shots. He drew eight fouls while committing 20 and was booked five times on the year.

The 31-year-old appeared in all three of Orlando City’s three playoff matches — both off the bench — and logged 65 minutes. He did not score a goal or assist on one, attempting one shot, which he put on frame. He passed at an 82.5% rate in the postseason. He posted two tackles and a clearance defensively. He did not commit a foul or draw one and he wasn’t booked.

In the 2023 Concacaf Champions League, Smith came off the bench in the first leg at Tigres, playing minutes, passing at just a 25% rate (small sample size), did not attempt a shot, did not draw or concede a foul, and was not booked.

During Leagues Cup play, Smith appeared in all three of Orlando’s matches (all starts), logging 150 minutes. He did not contribute to a goal or attempt a shot in the tournament, committing four fouls and earning two yellow cards. Smith did not play in Orlando City’s lone U.S. Open Cup match.

Best Game

Smith’s best match of 2023 came in Orlando City’s 1-1 home draw against Atlanta United on May 27, and not only because that’s when he scored his lone goal of the season, although that doesn’t hurt. El Soldado started and went the full 90 minutes. He fired two shots on the night, putting one on target (and in the net), and passed at an exceptional 90.3% rate on 31 attempts, which was his third-best passing night of the season. He completed two successful long balls on two attempts, chipping in four clearances (second only to Antonio Carlos), a tackle, and an interception on the night. His big moment came in the 30th minute, when a well-worked attack up the left kicked out to him on the right side. Smith was perfectly positioned and made no mistake in putting the Lions ahead 1-0.

Although the match was spoiled by a late equalizer, Smith turned in one of his best performances since joining Orlando City and if not for his goal, the outcome might have been a lot more somber than a 1-1 draw.

2023 Final Grade

Smith received a composite score of 6 out of 10 for his 2023 performance from The Mane Land staff. This is an improvement over the 5.5 he earned last year but slightly below the 6.5 he earned for the 2021 season. Previously, Smith was given a 5.5 in 2020 and he got the same score after the 2019 season. The staff awarded Smith for his effort, versatility, and willingness to do whatever it takes to win. He is the quintessential team player. But beyond all of the above, he simply played well most of his minutes on the pitch. At his age, he’s going to struggle to contain the league’s speediest wing players, particularly when playing on his weaker left side, but his ability to adapt is unquestioned. The perfect example of that was when he was tucking inside from his fullback spot earlier in the season to add an additional player to the midfield and freeing Facundo Torres up to have more space in which to operate on the right side.

2024 Outlook

Smith’s return may ultimately rest with whether or not Oscar Pareja stays on with the Lions, although a decision might need to be made earlier than that, as the club must make a decision on his option. Pareja has valued Smith’s versatility and work ethic over the last few years, and with more competitions and matches than ever before, it’s always good to have a depth player who can plug and play in multiple positions. He played his second-most MLS minutes in 2023, so he’s still seeing the field plenty.

If I had to guess, and this section is for exactly that, I’d say the club will either exercise his option or sign him to a new one-year deal with an option year for 2025. However, what complicates matters is that Smith is over age 24 and has played five MLS seasons, which means he’s eligible for free agency. If he’s back in 2024, I would expect him to again be a key backup at both fullback positions, getting some spot starts in U.S. Open Cup or when fixture congestion is heavy.

Previous Season in Review Articles (Date Posted)

Continue Reading

Orlando City

2023 Orlando City Season in Review: Abdi Salim

We continue our Orlando City player retrospectives with a look at one of the Lions’ 2023 draft picks.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City used its third pick of the 2023 MLS SuperDraft to select Abdi Salim with the 17th overall pick. Salim played his college soccer at Syracuse and the Lions picked up the center back to help with depth at a position that didn’t really have a ton of established bodies behind Antonio Carlos, Robin Jansson, and Rodrigo Schlegel. He was then signed to a one-year deal in February that contained three option years for the 2024, 2025, and 2026 seasons.

Let’s have a look at Salim’s first season as a professional.

Statistical Breakdown

Salim made his Major League Soccer debut at home against FC Cincinnati on March 4. It was Salim’s only start of the year and he went the full 90 minutes as the Lions drew 0-0 against the eventual Supporters’ Shield winners. He made two other appearances in away games against D.C. United and Charlotte FC, both of which ended as 1-1 draws as he finished with 148 MLS minutes on the year.

Defensively he recorded four tackles, four interceptions, three clearances, a block, and won two aerial duels. He did not record any offensive statistics, but was solid with his distribution as he averaged 87.3% passing accuracy and completed one cross and one long ball each.

Given that it was only his first season as a professional, he spent the bulk of his time in MLS NEXT Pro with Orlando City B. With the Young Lions he played in 16 matches, starting 14 of them and racking up 1,162 minutes. He finished with 11 interceptions and a tackle while committing seven fouls and drawing 11 and picking up one yellow card. Salim took nine shots, put two of them on target, and scored a goal on each one he got on frame. He passed very well, finishing with a 90.2% success rate, two key passes, and 18 long balls.

Best Game

The honor of his best game goes to his first ever professional appearance, when he started and played the whole game in the aforementioned 0-0 draw against FC Cincinnati. Salim finished with three tackles, three clearances, and an interception while passing with 87% accuracy, completing a long ball on his only attempt, and helping the Lions keep a clean sheet at home. He was a bit shaky at first, as he was deployed as the third center back in a three-man back line, but he settled down in the second half and finished with a grade of 5.5 out of 10 from Nic Josey.

2023 Final Grade

Given that Salim didn’t crack 200 minutes and we require a minimum of 450 to award a grade for the season, he receives an incomplete for the 2023 season. He did some good things when down with Orlando City B, and filled in well enough with the senior side when called upon, but we simply need to see more of him in order to figure out what he’s really able to do.

2024 Outlook

It’s likely that Salim will spend more time with Orlando City B next season, but with no one seemingly laying claim to the fourth center back position, he should have a chance to show what he’s capable of during preseason. He seemed to be in competition with Thomas Williams for the back up spot not occupied by Rodrigo Schlegel, but he may have moved past him in the pecking order as he made more appearances than the Homegrown signing, both with OCSC and OCB. Regardless, as an inexpensive young player with potential, there’s no reason to think he won’t be here next year.

Previous Season in Review Articles (Date Posted)

Continue Reading