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Orlando City vs. Atlanta United: Player Grades and Man of the Match

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Orlando City managed to come back and win 3-2 at home against Atlanta United. It was far from comfortable, but the Lions took all three points after trailing twice against their rivals. It was a momentous night as Mason Stajduhar got the start in goal, Kyle Smith found the back of the net, and Nani broke an Orlando record.

Let’s dive right into how each of your favorite Lions rated in this home win.

Starters

GK, Mason Stajduhar, 6 — Stajduhar’s MLS debut got off to a rough start, but there wasn’t much he could do on Josef Martinez’ goal. His first save in MLS was a good one, going low to stop a surging Erik Lopez in on goal. It was also his only save of the match as he couldn’t reach Marcelino Moreno’s curling strike from distance. Still, Stajduhar was solid and looked comfortable directing his back line and rushing to snuff out any potential chances. In terms of distribution, he completed two of his five attempted long balls and ended up with a success rate of 83% on 18 total passes. While conceding two goals isn’t great, both are likely MLS Goal of the Week candidates and Stajduhar shouldn’t be too upset with a win in his debut.

D, Kyle Smith, 7 — Even with Ruan back in the lineup, Smith continues to start every game for Orlando this season. Playing at left back in this match, Smith proved that he’s more than a versatile, bit player on the team and scored his first goal as a Lion. Late in the first half with his team trailing, Smith got his head on the end of Nani’s corner to skip the ball into the net. It was great work from Smith. He was also solid on defense, leading the team in both tackles (three) and clearances (three). Smith was also second on the team in touches with 66 and completed 89% of 47 passes. A case can certainly be made that Smith deserves to start in every match no matter what other fullbacks are available.

D, Robin Jansson, 6.5 — The masked Swede wasn’t able to make much of an impact on either of Atlanta’s goals as they were well struck and out of his area of influence. The two conceded goals will overshadow a fairly good defensive performance from him and Antonio Carlos to keep Martinez quiet. Jansson recorded no tackles or interceptions, but did have a clearance and played all 90 minutes. He completed 41 of his 45 passes for a strong 91% success rate and had 48 touches.

D, Antonio Carlos, 6.5 — Carlos came up with a big block against Lopez in the 22nd minute after a deflected cross teed up the Paraguayan forward for a shot. The center back also had a tackle, two interceptions, and a clearance in a solid defensive performance. He’s getting better on offensive set pieces as well, nearly scoring on a corner after making good contact with his head but sending it wide. Carlos had 54 touches and completed 45 of his 47 passes for an excellent 96% completion rate.

D, Ruan, 7 — Orlando City looked most dangerous when Ruan was racing down the right side. His crossing has always left something to be desired, but he did really well finding players in the box in this match. He nearly had two assists, but Benji Michel couldn’t finish one and Chris Mueller was stopped by a terrific save from Alec Kann. Ruan had two shots and put both of them on target. Although the first was from distance and aimed right at Kann, the second was from a tight angle and earned the corner that led to Orlando’s first goal. On defense, he had a tackle, an interception, and a clearance. Ruan didn’t track back in time on Atlanta’s second goal after the ball was turned over in the midfield, although Atlanta’s tempo before Moreno’s curler didn’t warrant a desperate sprint from Ruan to get back. All in all, it’s nice to have Ruan back on the field to add another dimension to the offense. The right back went the distance and had 60 touches, two key passes, and completed 81% of his 36 passes.

MF, Uri Rosell, 6 — Rosell was solid in his third consecutive start for Orlando, completing 50 of his 55 passes for a 91% success rate. He made two tackles and an interception to help out on defense. Atlanta seemed willing to give him space in the midfield, preferring to pay attention to Orlando’s more offensive players, and Rosell never really made them pay for it. Still, he did a decent job as a passing outlet for defenders and getting the ball either out wide or to Pereyra. Rosell was subbed off for Tesho Akindele in the 74th minute as Orlando was trailing and he finished with 63 touches.

MF, Andres Perea, 6 — With Rosell playing defensively while Mauricio Pereyra was an offensive threat, Perea carved out a spot for himself in central midfield. He was a step behind Josef Martinez before the forward struck from distance, but it’s hard to pin the blame on Perea for that goal. The 20-year-old didn’t have a shot or a key pass in a pretty quiet night at home after scoring last week at home against the Philadelphia Union. He made a good run here and there, including some nice movement in the box on Smith’s goal to peel a defender and open up space. Perea was third on the team in touches with 65 and made 57 passes at an 86% success rate. Defensively, he finished with a tackle, an interception, and a clearance. With Rosell earning more playing time and the impending returns of Sebas Mendez and Junior Urso, Perea may see some of his minutes eaten up in the future. Head Coach Oscar Pareja has praised Perea’s ability to come in as a substitute and mimic the midfielder he’s replacing, so it will be interesting to see if he returns to that role in the future.

MF, Benji Michel, 6 — It was a mixed bag from the Homegrown Player. Although Michel had four shots, none were all too threatening as only two were on target and those were sent directly at Kann. While he did a good job making runs to find dangerous areas, more is expected of him to put the ball in the back of the net when it’s served to him on a silver platter. That being said, he completed all three of his attempted dribbles, won a free kick right outside the penalty area, and redeemed himself a bit with the assist on Silvester van der Water’s goal. It was his only key pass of the match, but it was a nice one as he headed the ball towards van der Water rather than trying to get a shot off. Michel was able to make more of an impact once Atlanta right back Brooks Lennon was forced off due to injury and he finished with 39 touches while completing 16 of his 17 passes for a nice 94% success rate. He didn’t attempt any crosses and often drifted in to the center of the attack while Nani had free range.

MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 7 — After missing Orlando’s last game due to his suspension, it took some time for Pereyra to find his rhythm in this one. But once he did, he really started to make an impact on the match. Pereyra led the Lions with five key passes, including a hockey assist on Orlando’s second goal. The Uruguayan delivered a beautiful ball over the defense for Michel to then head towards van der Water in the middle. Not only did Pereyra lead the Lions with a total of 59 passes, but he completed them at an incredible 92% success rate. Those passes were far from walks in the park too, as he was successful on all three of his crosses and was relied upon to switch the flow of play or find players making runs forward. His only shot was off target, but it was a desperate attempt after a poor clearance from Kann while Pereyra was falling down. Pereyra also led the Lions in touches with 71 and chipped in defensively with a tackle and two interceptions. He also didn’t earn any yellow cards, so it was a pretty nice night for him, although he was responsible for the turnover that led to the second Atlanta goal by letting the ball run through the midfield while his trailing teammate (Nani) wasn’t open enough to accept it.

MF, Chris Mueller, 6.5 — Mueller benefitted from Ruan’s work down the right side and nearly scored late in the second half but his shot was saved at the goal line by Kann. It was his only shot of the match though and he didn’t have any key passes or crosses either. Overall, his passing was decent as he completed 21 of his 25 passes for an 84% success rate. Defensively, he made two tackles and two interceptions. Mueller was subbed off for van der Water in the 74th minute and finished with 41 touches.

F, Nani, 8 (MotM) — Yet again, Nani bent the game to his will, scoring the game winner to give Orlando all three points. He turned on the jets immediately after van der Water whipped the ball into the box, beating his defender and heading the ball past Kann for his eighth goal of the season. His assist on Orlando’s first goal from a corner kick was his 23rd assist as a Lion, surpassing Kaká (who was at the match) for the club record. The captain finished with 57 touches and 36 passes with an 81% completion rate, including four key passes. Of his four shots, two were on target while the others were either sent wide or blocked. Nani is our Man of the Match for providing that lethal edge to a team that lacked a true striker for most of the match. He needed to do well in this one after not playing against New York City FC and he did just that, winning the game for the Lions.

Substitutes

MF, Silvester van der Water (73’), 7.5 — What more can you want from a substitute? Van der Water only had seven touches but he made them count as he scored an equalizer and then delivered the game-winning assist. His diving header was perfectly placed, but what was even better was his quick burst of speed to get past his defender and in position. His assist was a pinpoint cross to Nani in front of goal and couldn’t have been any better. The winger was the needed spark Orlando needed to come back from a deficit and win.

F, Tesho Akindele (73’), 6 — It’s baffling that Akindele was able to play in this match, considering he’d just played for Canada in Arlington, TX the night before. The big guy did what he does best, winning the ball upfield and pressing the opposition. He didn’t play much of a role in Orlando’s late goals apart from drawing the attention of defenders. Akindele had seven touches and completed three of his five passes.

D, Emmanuel Mas (84’), N/A — Although he was brought on late for Smith, Mas racked up 13 touches and completed eight of his nine passes. It wasn’t enough playing time to earn a grade, but he looks comfortable with the ball at his feet and had a couple of unsuccessful crosses.

MF, Joey DeZart (90’), N/A The midfielder is becoming a closer of sorts for Pareja, brought on late to see out matches once Orlando has the lead. DeZart put his fresh legs to good use by chasing the ball and had four touches while completing two of his three passes

MF, Junior Urso (90’), N/A — The Bear had a tackle, four touches, and completed both of his passes in a late cameo. It’s nice to see him back on the field and hopefully he will feature more in Orlando’s next game.


That’s how I saw things play out in Orlando’s win over its rival. Make sure to weigh in on how you feel about the grades in the comments below and to vote for who you think deserved the title of Man of the Match.

Polling Closed

PlayerVotes
Nani31
Kyle Smith76
Mauricio Pereyra13
Antonio Carlos2
Other (let us know who in the comments)1

Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/17/24

Orlando City rises in power rankings, Orlando Pride waive two players, Champions League results, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. Time to start your day with some tasty links. It’s shaping up to be an exciting weekend with Orlando City, the Orlando Pride, and Orlando City B all playing. Last week, Orlando’s teams ended up with seven out of nine possible points. Here’s hoping we see nine out of nine this weekend. Let’s get to the links.

Orlando City Moving On Up

Starting the season 0-3-1 is a good way to be in the cellar of the utterly meaningless MLSsoccer.com power rankings. Orlando City is now starting to climb up the rankings thanks to three straight results. The Lions moved up four spots to 21st after the 3-2 victory over DC United. It was Duncan McGuire’s goal that secured the win, and his performance off the bench was a talking point for this week as well.

Farewell Kaylie Collins and Tori Hansen

The Orlando Pride announced that goalkeeper Kaylie Collins and defender Tori Hansen were waived on Tuesday. Both players were on loan in Australia’s A-League Women ,with Collins at Western Sydney Wanderers FC and Hansen with Melbourne Victory FC. Collins and Hansen were both NWSL draft picks for the Pride, though neither saw significant minutes with the club.

Barbra Banda Begins Training

Barbra Banda participated in her first training with the Pride Tuesday. It’s uncertain how much playing time she may get this week, but it’s possible she makes her first appearance against the San Diego Wave this Friday. Please remember that it sometimes takes new players time to get used to a new club, a new city, and a new league. Of course, I’m still hoping she comes on and scores a brace against the Wave.

Wild Matches in Champions League Quarterfinals

Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund both overcame deficits in the first leg to advance to the UEFA Champions League semifinals. PSG dropped four goals on Barcelona to win 6-4 on aggregate. Barcelona scored first, but made things hard on itself when Ronald Araújo was sent off.

Borussia Dortmund also scored four goals, defeating Atletico Madrid 5-4 on aggregate. Dortmund gave up an own goal, but battled back to take the lead in the match and then the lead in the tie thanks to goals scored in the 71st and 74th minutes. It was a wild, fun match to watch. Dortmund and PSG will meet in the semifinals.

Free Kicks

  • MLS will now start implementing the new rules for off-field treatments, timed substitutions, and in-stadium VAR announcements. The idea is to maximize effective match time.
  • The International Football Association Board (IFAB) will test new time limit rules during the 2024-2025 season for how long keepers can hold the ball with potential consequences including giving the opposing team a corner or a throw-in.
  • Finally, our thoughts are with the friends and family following the passing of Joel McKell.

That will do it for today. Check back later in the week as we get you ready for the Orlando City, Orlando Pride, and OCB matches this weekend. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/16/24

Nico Lodeiro earns recognition, Marta up for Goal of the Week, MLS stock watch, and more.

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I hope you had a good weekend and got your taxes filed correctly and on time. It was a good weekend for Orlando soccer, as the Orlando Pride, Orlando City B, and Orlando City went undefeated and picked up seven of the nine points on offer. As always, we have a lot to talk through today. Before we get into today’s links, let’s all wish Luis Muriel a happy birthday!

Nico Lodeiro Makes Team of the Matchday Bench

Midfielder Nico Lodeiro has earned recognition for his part in Orlando City’s 3-2 win over D.C. United, making the bench of the latest edition MLS Team of the Matchday. The Uruguayan entered the fray in the 72nd minute and helped OCSC come back and take all three points. He took the corner kick that David Brekalo equalized from, (even though he was not initially credited with the assist) and provided an outstanding through ball for Duncan McGuire’s game-winner. Sean Rollins graded him a 6.5/10 and named him Man of the Match in his player grades as well. Here’s hoping he keeps up the good work!

Marta’s Goal Nominated

Marta’s game-winning strike during Friday’s contest against Utah Royals FC has been nominated for NWSL Goal of the Week. On the road and in the game as a substitute, it didn’t take long for the Brazilian to make her mark on the match. She was barely on the field for five minutes when she met a ball that was rolling across the box with a first-time strike that she powered in off the back post. It proved to be the game’s only goal and was enough to give the Pride their first win of the season. Make sure you vote for her to win this week’s honor!

MLS Stock Watch

The fortunes of Major League Soccer teams are in constant flux, and it’s always nice to keep track of how your enemies are doing. Former Lion Sacha Kljestan weighed in on which clubs’ stock went up and which went down after the weekend’s games. We start on a good note, as a resilient performance from Orlando City saw the good guys pick up their second win of the season. The LA Galaxy hammered the Vancouver Whitecaps by a score of 3-1, and proved that their place atop the Western Conference standings is no fluke. On the other side of the coin, Toronto FC has given up 10 goals in its last three matches, and Jon Herdman needs to find a way to keep things from getting worse until the Reds’ group of injured players can return to the field.

Americans in Midweek Action

There are two big matches featuring American players this week, so get them marked down on your calendar and don’t miss any of the action. Thursday sees Christian Pulisic, Yunus Musah, and AC Milan travel to the Italian capital to try to overturn a 1-0 first leg deficit to Roma in the Europa League quarterfinals. Musah started Sunday’s match against Sassuolo and Pulisic subbed on in the second half as Milan clawed its way back to a 3-3 draw. Friday then has Juventus and Weston McKennie traveling to Cagliari for a Serie A tilt. Juve is currently third in the league and needs to keep picking up results to secure a UEFA Champions League place for next season.

UEFA Champions League Preview

Speaking of the Champions League, the quarterfinals wrap up today and tomorrow and there are a number of storylines to keep an eye on. Luis Enrique is strong in his belief that Paris Saint-Germain can overcome a 3-2 loss in the first leg to advance past Barcelona. Xavi has promised that Barca will look to attack rather than sitting and protecting its lead. Elsewhere, Bayern Munich will be without the suspended Alphonso Davies and likely Kingsley Coman due to injury, and their replacements will be hard pressed to contain Ben White and Bukayo Saka. Finally, Edin Terzic’s substitutions gave Borussia Dortmund a spark in the team’s 2-1 loss to Atletico Madrid in the first leg, which means the coach may have a selection headache on his hands as he tries to lead his side to a comeback.

Free Kicks


That’ll do it for me this morning. Vamos Orlando!

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. D.C. United: Player Grades and Man of the Match

How did your favorite Lions perform in Orlando City’s 3-2 win over D.C. United?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City came back from two deficits against D.C. United to claim a huge 3-2 win this weekend — the team’s second victory of the season. It looked like it would be a long night for the Lions in the first 20 minutes, but they turned it around. Down a goal late, David Brekalo and Duncan McGuire converted to earn Orlando City three points.

Here’s how I saw the individual performances by the Lions.

Starters

GK, Pedro Gallese, 6 — Gallese took his usual position in goal and had a strong night. He allowed himself to get pushed out of the play on the opening goal by Christian Benteke, though it arguably should’ve been a foul on D.C. He ended the game with four saves from six on-target shots, including two huge saves in second-half stoppage time. In addition to his shot stopping, Gallese completed 51.9% of his 27 passes, including seven of his 20 long balls. He was also credited with three clearances on the night.

D, Kyle Smith, 5.5 — Smith got the start at left back in this game over Rafael Santos, recording 53 touches. He had three tackles, three clearances, and a blocked shot. Going forward, he only completed 76.5% of his 34 passes, but connected with his lone cross and five of his nine long balls. He also won two aerial balls and was booked just before coming off for handling a ball that he should’ve cleared, giving D.C. a free kick in a dangerous position. The defender was replaced by Santos in the 73rd minute.

D, Robin Jansson, 6 — Jansson was a strong point for Orlando City once again in this game. He recorded one tackle, two interceptions, a blocked shot, and three clearances. Going forward, the center back completed 80.4% of his 46 passes, including four of his seven long balls. Arguably his biggest play of the game was drawing a foul late at the top of the box when D.C. was pushing for an equalizer.

D, David Brekalo, 6 — Brekalo had 60 touches and completed 76.6% of his 47 passes, including three of his 13 long balls. Defensively, he recorded one tackle, one interception, and two clearances. He made his first significant offensive impact as a Lion by getting his head to a Nico Lodeiro corner kick in the 82nd minute to even the game at 2-2.

D, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 6 — Thorhallsson only had 58 touches in the game, but the right back made the most of them. He completed 76.7% of his 30 passes and three of his six long balls, but failed to connect on his lone cross. Defensively, he recorded two tackles and three clearances. However, his biggest impact came in the 28th minute, when he got his head onto Ivan Angulo’s cross to even the game at 1-1.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 5 — Araujo’s 70 touches were the most on the team for this game. He only completed 78.2% of his 55 passes, but connected on two of his four long balls. Defensively, he won two tackles and blocked one shot while committing a team-high four fouls. He was also late getting over to cover Gabriel Pirani on the second goal for D.C. Overall, it wasn’t one of Araujo’s best games.

MF, Wilder Cartagena, 5.5 — Cartagena started in the defensive midfield alongside Araujo. He recorded 41 touches and completed 81.3% of his 32 passes, including a key pass, his one cross, and one of his three long balls. Defensively, he recorded two clearances. As is common with the midfielder, he was booked in the first half for standing over Jared Stroud after a foul by Angulo. He was taken off during a triple substitution in the 72nd minute, replaced by Lodeiro.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 6 — Angulo was the least involved of the midfielders, only recording 35 touches. However, he completed 76.2% of his 21 passes, including a wonderful cross to Thorhallsson on the Lions’ first goal of the night. His lone shot was off target, but he helped defensively with a tackle and team-high three interceptions.

MF, Facundo Torres, 5.5 — Torres recorded 50 touches in this game and completed 90.9% of his 33 passes with no key passes. He was accurate on only one of his three crosses, which was an issue. His lone shot was off target but not by much, as he sent his effort just wide of the right post from outside the area. He came off in stoppage time after the Lions took the lead for center back Rodrigo Schlegel.

MF, Martin Ojeda, 5.5 — Ojeda started in the attacking midfield for this game, recording 46 touches. He completed 71.4% of his 21 passes, including two key passes, one accurate cross on his four attempts, and two of his four long balls. He also had four unstable touches and an off-target shot. Defensively, the attacking midfielder had a team-high four tackles, helping his team retain possession before being replaced by Duncan McGuire in the 72nd minute.

F, Luis Muriel, 5 — Muriel got the start alone up top, but had a difficult night. He got involved in the game with 36 touches and completed 64.7% of his 17 passes, including two key passes. He took two shots, with one on target, and completed two dribbles, but had five unstable touches. He could’ve had a much better performance, but attempted to dribble through the opposition in the box rather than finding a teammate, losing possession. The forward’s night ended in the 87th minute when he was replaced by Felipe.

Substitutes

D, Rafael Santos (73’), 5.5 — Santos came on in the 73rd minute for Smith at left back. He had 14 touches and completed seven of his 10 touches (70%), but failed to connect on his one long ball and three crosses. He also didn’t record any defensive stats in his 17 minutes of action.

MF, Nico Lodeiro (72’), 6.5 (MotM) — Lodeiro came on in the 72nd minute for Cartagena, looking to make a difference. The midfielder touched the ball 18 times and completed 75% of his 12 passes, including two key passes, two of his three crosses, and one of his three long balls. Both of his shots were on target and his through ball for McGuire in second-half stoppage time gave him the assist on the game-winning goal. Although the stats sheet credited Torres with the assist on Brekalo’s goal, it was the veteran who took the set piece, which should result in a two-assist night once the league has had a chance to review the tape (see below…even Evan Weston calls him ‘Torres’ on his call). Lodeiro was a game-changer when he came on so, despite his lack of minutes, he earns my Man of the Match.

F, Duncan McGuire (72’), 6 — McGuire came on with Lodeiro as the Lions were chasing the game. He had 14 touches and completed 44.4% of his nine passes. However, the striker was brought on to score and did so in stoppage time, timing his run perfectly and finishing well on the breakaway. He also recorded a tackle and clearance but gets a high grade from me for doing exactly what he was brought on to do in scoring the winning goal.

MF, Felipe (87’), N/A — Felipe came on for Muriel as the Lions looked to see out a point, but he only touched the ball three times. He completed both of his passes, but didn’t record any other stats in his minimal time on the field.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel (90+2’), N/A — Schlegel came on right after the game-winning goal for Torres as the Lions looked to see out the win. He had two touches and an incomplete pass, but no other statistics.


That’s how I saw the individual performances in Orlando City’s win over D.C. United. Let us know how you saw the game and vote for your Man of the Match below.

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