Connect with us

Orlando City

Intelligence Report: Orlando City vs. Nashville SC

Published

on

Orlando City kicks off another busy week with a midweek clash tomorrow against Nashville SC. With a trip to Nashville coming up, I spoke to former USL Lion and current Nashville SC television analyst Jamie Watson. He provided some excellent insight and helped get us caught up on Nashville.

So far, Nashville has done very well to build on what it started in 2020, and is very comfortably in the playoff places. What has been the most important factor in the team’s success for its first year and a half of MLS play?

Jamie Watson: I think there are a couple of factors that have played into the constant rise month over month for Nashville SC since their inception into Major League Soccer. First, the GM, scouting department and the head coach were very thoughtful with their inter-league acquisitions. They got the midfield pairing of Dax McCarty and Anibal Godoy for a combined $650,000 GAM (and $50,000 in TAM). Exceptional price to pay for your starting two central midfielders. They’ve formed a wonderful partnership together. Walker Zimmerman was someone I thought LAFC would never part ways with. Until they did. Mike Jacobs got a deal done for just over $1 million in allocation money and he was the 2020 MLS Defender of the Year. Joe Willis led the league in shutouts last year, currently tied for the league lead today — Expansion Draft pick. Alistair Johnston was a draft pick. CJ Sapong was a free agent. Randall Leal was a relatively small fee for his output and future. You go down the list and you see how astutely the team was put together. It’s brilliant management.

Next reason is the continuity of the group. Gary Smith has found a reliable and consistent starting group that is filled with very good and hardworking professionals. This preseason wasn’t about acclimating players to a system, it was more about building off of what they built as a group in 2020. That’s a big reason they’re off to a great start, in my opinion. They play an entertaining brand of soccer that has led to more goals, while also being one shutout away from matching their total from last season in fewer games.

Nashville has already eclipsed the number of goals it scored in its maiden season, and has done so in eight fewer games (if my math is correct). What has been the difference on the offensive end this year?

JW: I think there’s been a step forward in the finishing production and goal creation from Hany Mukhtar this year. The partnership he has with CJ Sapong and Randall Leal makes this nearly unstoppable at times. Sapong had a brace on Sunday evening and Mukhtar had a goal and an assist. They’ve been the real story lately for the outpouring of goals over this season 

What are your expectations for Nashville this year? What would you consider a successful season to be for the team?

JW: I think the playoffs are one big barometer of success in MLS. Nashville is still only in their second season in MLS. The accomplishment of making the playoffs last year and winning a game made them the first expansion team to do so since 1998! Miami got in the playoffs as well, but they got one of the expanded spots and lost to Nashville 3-0. Nashville would have qualified by the standards set at the beginning of the year. Most teams don’t expect playoffs until at least year 3. So if they make the playoffs, you can count this year as a success. A home playoff game would be lovely. But as they’ve shown last year, beating Miami (home) and and TFC (away) before ultimately falling in extra time to the eventual champions, once you’re in the playoffs, anything can happen.

Are there any injuries, suspensions or call-ups that will keep players unavailable for selection? What is your projected starting lineup and score prediction? 

JW: Heading into the last match, every player was available for selection. I’m not aware of any changes to that as of Monday morning. As far as lineup, we don’t find out ahead of time so I have no idea what Gary Smith has planned. Score prediction wise, I think it’ll be a very entertaining game. Last year’s season finale had a thrilling finish and ended 3-2 in favor of Nashville. There were some stunning goals that night. Let’s hope for a great game and we’ll all anxiously wait from now until kickoff to see who will get the better of the other!


Big thanks to Jamie for all of the insight into Nashville. Vamos Orlando!

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?

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/15/24

Lions beat D.C. United, Pride pick up road win over Utah Royals, Barbra Banda arrives in Orlando, and more.

Published

on

Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you down in Florida. Orlando City and the Pride both won over the weekend, and there has been plenty of action in European soccer. Over the past week, I’ve been busy covering high school sports like lacrosse and softball. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Lions Top D.C. United

Orlando City overturned a late 2-1 deficit to win 3-2 against D.C. United at Audi Field over the weekend. David Brekalo scored the equalizer in the second half to tie the match at 2-2. Duncan McGuire came off the bench in the second half and scored in stoppage time, as the Lions beat D.C. United for the first time since Oct. 2, 2021. The Lions were 0-3-1 against D.C. United over the last two seasons prior to Saturday’s win. Orlando has now picked up points in each of the last three matches. Orlando City will be on the road again this weekend when it takes on CF Montreal on Saturday.

Orlando Pride Defeat Utah Royals; Help Arrives

The Orlando Pride got their first win of the 2024 NWSL last Friday with a 1-0 against the Utah Royals. Marta came off the bench in the second half and scored the lone goal to seal the win for Orlando. The Pride drew each of their first three matches to start the season against Racing Louisville, Angel City FC, and the Chicago Red Stars. Friday’s result means the Pride have six points through four league matches and are fifth in the NWSL table.

Despite needing four matches to pick up their first win of the year, the Pride are ahead of last year’s pace at the same point in the season, and remain undefeated (1-0-3) despite still waiting to play with this off-season’s marquee signing, Zambian international striker Barbra Banda. The new Pride forward arrived on Sunday to a warm welcome at Orlando International Airport.

It will be interesting to see how quickly Seb Hines can get Banda acclimated to the club and the league. Orlando could use Banda’s offensive firepower, as the club has struggled to score goals in the early part of the season. The Pride will be back in action against the San Diego Wave this Friday.

Bayer Leverkusen wins Bundesliga; Manchester City Leads EPL Title Race

Bayer Leverkusen cruised to a 5-0 win against Werder Bremen on Sunday to win its first ever Bundesliga title with five league matches left to spare. Xabi Alonso’s side won the league title by a 16-point margin, ending Bayern Munich’s 11-year run as title holders. Leverkusen is also unbeaten through 43 matches across all competitions. Meanwhile, in England, we have a new Premier League title race leader as Manchester City crushed Luton Town 5-1 on Saturday. On Sunday, Arsenal lost 2-0 to Aston Villa and Liverpool lost 1-0 to Crystal Palace. There are six match days remaining and this race could go down to the wire. Manchester City is at the top of the table with 73 points, while Arsenal and Liverpool remain two points behind in second and third, respectively, with 71 points.

Free Kicks

  • Houston Dash winger Maria Sanchez has reportedly requested a trade four months after signing a record-breaking deal in NWSL history in the off-season to remain with the club.
  • Manchester United edged Chelsea 2-1 to beat the Blues for the first time ever. Making the win even bigger was that it took place in the Women’s FA Cup semifinal. United will play Tottenham in the final at Wembley on May 12.
  • The EFL Championship is three weeks away from its finale, with a few clubs featureing Americans still in the mix for promotion. Josh Sargent’s Norwich City side holds the final playoff spot, while Haji Wright’s Conventry and Duane Holmes’ Preston North End in the hunt for a shot at promotion.
  • The AS Roma versus Udinese match was suspended after defender Evan Ndicka collapsed away from play and had to be stretchered off. The game was tied at 1-1 with about 20 minutes remaining when Ndicka went down. The club shared this update on social media.

That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Monday, and I’ll see you next time.

Continue Reading

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. D.C. United: Five Takeaways

What did we learn from a 3-2 road victory against D.C. United?

Published

on

Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City came from behind twice on the road at Audi Field to earn three points against a good D.C. United team, winning 3-2. It was by no means a perfect match for the Lions, but Head Coach Oscar Pareja and company pulled the right strings when it came to the lineup and substitutes after a bye week to earn the team’s biggest result of the still young season.

Here are our five takeaways from the match.

Sluggish Start

D.C. United found itself up 1-0 before most fans at home and in the stadium probably had a chance to settle into their seats. Christian Benteke, a man who you absolutely do not want to allow any space in the box, broke free for a header from the back post on a corner kick five minutes into the match. Say what you want about the contact that was allowed on Gallese, but El Pulpo could have been more demonstrative coming off his line. The shellshocked Lions took the next 20ish minutes to work themselves back into the match, but there was certainly a lot of concern early from those watching the events unfolding in the nation’s capital.

Angulo Creates the Equalizer

Once Orlando woke up, the squad was able to string together a solid second part of the first half with possession, passing, and solid cutting. The first equalizer of the night came in the 28th minute as Ivan Angulo streaked up the field and utilized his speed to get the ball into a dangerous position before playing a perfectly weighted ball to the back post, where Dagur Dan Thorhallsson slammed home an emphatic header. It was a welcome sign for Angulo to get involved as a contributor after an otherwise forgettable start to the year.

Muriel Lacking Quality

Much has been made about the signing of Luis Muriel, who has had a storied international career. His start to his time in the City Beautiful has been less than inspiring, however. On a night when he got the starting nod over fellow striker Duncan McGuire, Muriel looked slightly off and oftentimes was the victim of over dribbling or taking one too many touches.

His best goal-scoring opportunity came on a brilliant ball from Martin Ojeda with the D.C. keeper far off his line. Attempting to chip the keeper from distance would have been asking a lot and Muriel decided to dribble into the box, ultimately trying to guide the ball into the opposite corner. However, it was blocked by D.C. defender Aaron Herrera. One way or another, Orlando is going to need Muriel to find the back of the net, but when that happens may be anyone’s guess.

Breakagoalo

Remember where your heard the phrase ‘Breakagoalo,’ OCSC fans, as it is being coined here and now. With two weeks of rest, David Brekalo found himself inserted into what is undoubtedly his starting role for the remainder of the year, and he was able to open his Orlando City and MLS goal-scoring accounts. After D.C. once again pulled ahead, 2-1, a little after the hour mark of the match, Brekalo was able to showcase his athletic ability and aerial presence by outleaping multiple D.C. players on a corner kick, sending a glancing header into the net to level the game at 2-2.

These are the types of goals that Orlando City has lacked — not just this year, but last year as well — and there is no reason to think that Brekalo can’t find the net multiple times this year from corners and set pieces.

Duncan Does it Again

Duncan McGuire opened his account a little over a year ago, scoring his first career goal against D.C. United. Inserted as a super sub on Saturday, with the team down 2-1, it seemed then very fitting that he would be the one to find the late winner for the Lions. The TV angles unfortunately failed to capture the full greatness of his run, which started with an excellent ball from Nico Lodeiro. McGuire did everything right from that moment on by using two strong touches and then calmly picking out the right corner before hitting his famous flip celebration.

McGuire’s goal — and the late winner that it provided — was exactly what Orlando City needed to start to right the ship as the team looks to climb back up the table.


That’s what I saw in Orlando City’s come-from-behind victory against D.C. United. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Continue Reading

Trending