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Orlando City vs. Chicago Fire: Player Grades & Man of the Match

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Winning is fun! It wasn’t necessarily the prettiest win (torrential rain will do that to a soccer game), but Orlando City grabbed a much-needed 1-0 victory over the Chicago Fire courtesy of a second-half Benji Michel goal. Let’s have a look at how I rated each player in the win.

Starters

GK, Mason Stajduhar, 8 (MotM) — The Homegrown goalkeeper takes the honors for this one as he earned his first MLS shutout with a great performance. Our own Sean Rollins mentioned that Mason looks to have much better command of his box than he did during his first few games with Orlando City, and I think that was on display Saturday night. Aside from one occasion where Joao Moutinho headed a ball away that Stajduhar was coming to claim, he was on the same page with his defenders for the duration of the match. He did a good job of judging when he needed to come and claim a ball, and then followed through well on making contact or catching each one of them. He also made two excellent saves, with one in second half stoppage time that preserved all three points for the Lions. Overall, a much deserved Man of the Match.

D, Joao Moutinho, 7 — Joao didn’t have as much influence on the offensive end as he sometimes does, and his shot that went wide of the post in the second half when he was in an advanced position was disappointing, considering that the Lions had numbers forward. With that being said, it’s been good to have him back in the lineup, and while his crossing wasn’t as much of a weapon in this game as it can be, he still put a few very dangerous balls into the box. He was also rock solid defensively and was particularly good at helping provide an outlet when Chicago pressed high. Statistically, he passed at an 89% rate, completed one dribble and won an aerial duel.

D, Robin Jansson, 7 — This was another in a long line of good showings for the Swede. He totalled three interceptions, two clearances and a block while being the physical presence in defense that we’ve come to expect of him. I can’t help but feel that a goal is coming for Jansson sooner rather than later, and he wasn’t far away with a fierce left-footed drive from outside the box in the second half that didn’t quite start dipping in time to sneak under the bar. His other numbers going forward included a 95% passing rate with a key pass thrown in for good measure.

D, Antonio Carlos, 7.5 — Like his partner in central defense Jansson, Carlos continues to barely put a foot wrong defensively. He had another great game vs. Chicago with three tackles, two interceptions, a whopping eight clearances and an equally impressive five blocks. One sliding interception/clearance in his own box with the second half winding down was particularly eye-catching but he continues to be a pillar of defensive solidity even when he isn’t making the flashy play. To cap things off he passed the ball at a respectable enough 85% rate. All-Star snub, thy name is Antonio.

D, Ruan, 7 — The thing that impressed me most about Ruan in this game was his crossing. His delivery from wide areas isn’t always the best, and if he can become more consistent in that area then look the hell out. Against Chicago he did just that, with one of his two crosses finding the head of Chris Mueller with the other being met by Benji Michel. Like Moutinho, he didn’t have quite as much of an offensive impact as he sometimes does, although again, like Moutinho he was very good defensively. His numbers of one tackle, five interceptions and three clearances back that up.

MF, Junior Urso, 7 — The Bear did a bit of everything in this game. Defensively he had three tackles, two interceptions and two clearances while putting in his typical shift of hard running and gritty play in the middle of the field. Offensively he had two key passes, a dribble, and a shot. The shot he maybe should have done better with, as it was a header from pretty close range that he could only direct right at Bobby Shuttleworth. It ended up being one of Orlando’s better chances on the night, but with all of the other contributions he made, it’s hard to hold it against him too much.

MF, Joey DeZart, 6.5 — This was definitely a better outing for DeZart than his midweek performance against Nashville. It may be that the 90 minutes he played on Wednesday helped him get up to the speed of the game and get his feet under him, because he did well in his defensive midfield role. The 23-year-old recorded two tackles and an interception while passing the ball at an 85% clip. He didn’t really impact the game offensively, but honestly that’s not exactly what he’s on the field to do and he did well to open up the defense a few times. This was a solid performance from DeZart, and hopefully its one that he can build on.

MF, Silvester van der Water, 7.5 — Van der Water carried the most threat for Orlando on the night and very nearly was involved in two goals. He was desperately unlucky to have his left-footed shot crash off the inside of the far post and stay out, but that chance was a definite sign that he was up for this one. Scarcely a minute later he chased a ball down the right hand side and put a cross into a fantastic area, but neither Tesho Akindele or Benji Michel could convert the chance. His influence waned a little after that, although to be fair it would have been quite a task of maintaining that degree of threat for the remainder of his time on the field. Still, he had three shots, two key passes, two successful dribbles, two interceptions and a tackle. Another impressive game from the Dutchman.

MF, Benji Michel, 7 — Benji made up for failing to take the aforementioned first half chances in the best way possible, by putting away the next chance the fell his way. It wasn’t as easy as it might have looked either, and he did very well to take his time, pick his head up, and absolutely smash his shot low and into the corner where Shuttleworth couldn’t reach it. He also completed a dribble that was a pretty fantastic sequence where he picked up the ball on the left side of midfield, brought the ball past a couple defenders and out to the right side of the field, picked his head up and played a great diagonal ball over the top to Junior Urso. It was good to see him get back among the goals after having some difficulty in front of net in recent games.

F, Nani, 6.5 — The captain’s night was cut short by some muscle tightness that he’s been dealing with lately and all-in-all that was probably a smart move with the MLS All-Star Game right around the corner, followed by a match against Inter Miami just two days later. In his 29 minutes on the field Nani completed two dribbles and passed at a 83% clip, but rather understandably, wasn’t able to make a particularly big impact on the game. However, he showed well enough in the short time he was on the field, and personally I’m hoping that he isn’t given too much to do out at the All-Star festivities.

F, Tesho Akindele, 7.5 — Tesho had himself a damn good game in this one. For one thing, he created the turnover that led to Benji’s goal and also got his career high fifth assist on it. Besides that though, he had two shots, two key passes, two dribbles, was fouled three times, made one tackle and had four clearances. Outside of the numbers though, his hold-up play was excellent and if anyone claims otherwise I’ll happily take you to task on that point. He did a great job of not only winning the balls that were sent up to him, but also finding his teammates once he had done so and bringing them into the game. He also made smart runs and all-around worked hard for the whole game. If not for Mason’s heroics as the game wound down, he would have been my choice for MotM.

Substitutes

MF, Chris Mueller (29’), 6.5 — Cash was brought into the game for Nani and had a bit of a tough task since he didn’t look to get much, if any warmup time. He didn’t play his best game in purple, but by no means was he bad either. He had one shot, one key pass and was fouled once, but didn’t have a ton of impact in the game. He maybe should have done better with his header in the first half, although to be fair to him he had to generate most of the power himself and the ball was slightly behind him. Still, he filled in well enough after being brought on cold, and was effective at holding the ball in the corner and helping the Lions chip away at the clock some.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel (79’), N/A — The man with the golden hands was brought on for goal-scorer Benji Michel to help shore things up defensively. He did just that with a blocked shot. An odd statistical quirk is that he apparently did not attempt a pass during the 17 minutes that he was on the field, which seems super weird, but there you go.

D, Emmanuel Mas (85’), N/A — Like Schlegel, Mas was subbed on for van der Water to help lock down the game defensively. He contributed one tackle to the cause and passed the ball at a 75% rate. He’s sneakily a pretty crafty fullback, and I’ve enjoyed watching him play so far.

MF, Raul Aguilera Jr. (85’), N/A — An MLS debut for the Homegrown Player! Aguilera came on for DeZart to help get the game over the finish line and succeeded with two clearances and some hard running in midfield. He didn’t have a ton of time to show what he can do, so he’ll be one to keep an eye out for going forward.


That’s how I saw the grades during this one. Feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments and don’t forget to vote for who you think should have been the Man of the Match.

Polling Closed

PlayerVotes
Mason Stajduhar75
Antonio Carlos12
Benji Michel4
Tesho Akindele4
Other (shout them out in the comments)2

Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/23/24

Ivan Angulo makes Team of the Matchday bench, Americans in action, Sergino Dest to miss Copa America, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Tuesday, everyone! It was an excellent weekend for Orlando’s soccer teams, as the three sides took seven of the nine points on offer. There’s no rest for the wicked this week as the Orlando Pride travel to play the Washington Spirit on Friday, Orlando City hosts Toronto FC on Saturday, and Orlando City B finishes things up at home against Toronto FC II on Sunday. Let’s take a look at today’s links.

Ivan Angulo Earns Recognition

Ivan Angulo has been named to the bench of the latest edition of the MLS Team of the Matchday. The Colombian got the start on Saturday up in Montreal, and had a good game, going the distance and completing 82% of his passes and putting one of his two shots on target. That shot was an important one, as it gave the Lions a late equalizer and helped them salvage a valuable point on the road. Sean Rollins gave him a grade of 6 in his player grades from the match, a rating that likely would have been higher had Martin Ojeda’s pass been accurate enough to allow Angulo to grab a possible winner just a few minutes after he equalized. Here’s hoping he keeps up the good work!

Americans in Midweek Action

There are a number of Americans taking part in big games this week, and the good people over at Stars and Stripes FC have you covered with the whole rundown. First up, Weston McKennie, Tim Weah, and Juventus will try to advance to the Coppa Italia final this afternoon, as they enter the second leg of the semifinal against Lazio with a 2-0 lead on aggregate. Tomorrow sees Monaco and Folarin Balogun meet Lille in Ligue 1 action, while Chris Richards and Crystal Palace host Newcastle United in the Premier League. Things wrap up on Friday in Serie B when Gianluca Busio, Tanner Tessman, and third-place Venezia face Cremonese as they try to overtake Como and finish in one of Serie B’s two guaranteed promotion places.

Sergino Dest Sidelined Long Term

Following up on a story from yesterday’s Lion Links, The Athletic is reporting that the knee injury suffered by Sergino Dest will keep him out of Copa America, and sideline him for the rest of the year. That would be a big blow for the United States Men’s National Team, as Dest has been the nailed-on starter at right back since winning a place in the team during the qualifying cycle for the 2022 World Cup. The Yanks aren’t without options at the position, as Joe Scally could step in for Dest, or Gregg Berhalter could try deploying Weah there, but neither of the two possesses Dest’s level of offensive threat.

Inter Milan Wins Serie A

Inter Milan dispatched rival AC Milan 2-1 guaranteed that Inter will win its 20th Serie A title in club history. Fikayo Tomori’s goal in the 80th minute was the closest Christian Pulisic and Yunus Musah’s club could get to leveling the score, and Inter is now a whopping 17 points clear of AC Milan with five games left to play. Inter has been imperious on its way to a 20th Scudetto, scoring the most goals in the league while also conceding the fewest and losing only once this season.

Free Kicks

  • The Orlando Pride and Orlando City hosted a clean-up effort in honor of Earth Day on Monday.

That’s all I have for you this morning. Vamos Orlando!

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Orlando City

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

How did your favorite Lions perform in Orlando City’s 2-2 draw with CF Montreal?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City / Mark Thor

Orlando City scored in second-half injury time for the second consecutive weekend to claim points. However, this time it was an equalizer as the Lions drew CF Montreal 2-2 north of the border. The Lions ended their two-game road trip with four points and extended their points streak to four games after dropping three straight. It’s an improvement as they look to climb up the Eastern Conference standings.

Here’s how I saw the individual performances in the draw.

Starters

GK, Pedro Gallese, 5.5 — Gallese conceded a pair of goals in this game, though neither were necessarily his fault. The first was a breakaway after Robin Jansson kept Mason Toye onside and the second was blocked wide, but Kyle Smith was caught flat-footed. However, he did concede twice while saving three of Montreal’s five shots on target. Additionally, the Lions’ goalkeeper completed 55.6% of his 27 passes, including eight of his 20 long balls.

D, Kyle Smith, 5.5 — Smith had a solid game other than one specific play. The left back had a team-high 86 touches and completed 78.3% of his 60 passes, including five of his 12 long balls. Defensively, he recorded two tackles, two clearances, an interception, and a blocked shot. Unfortunately, his most impactful play was getting caught watching on a Gallese block while Ariel Lassiter beat him to the rebound to give the hosts a late lead. That play lowers his grade for this otherwise quality performance.

D, Robin Jansson, 5.5 — Similar to Smith, Jansson had a solid game apart from one play. He had 72 touches and completed 79.7% of his 59 passes, including a key pass and three of his 14 long balls. He added a tackle, an interception, a blocked shot, and a team-high seven clearances to his stat sheet. But his failure to step up in the 16th minute enabled Toye to get behind the back line and score the opening goal, lowering his grade.

D, David Brekalo, 6 — Brekalo has proven himself to be the first-choice partner for Jansson and he was arguably the better center back in Montreal. The Slovenian international had 53 touches and completed 85.1% of his 47 passes, including two of his five long balls. The defender recorded two tackles, an interception, and three clearances defensively in a strong performance.

D, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 6 — Thorhallsson was in his usual right back position for this game, playing 90 minutes and recording 44 touches. He completed 82.8% of his 29 passes, but only one of his four long balls and neither of his two crosses. He cleared the ball twice and didn’t really get into the attack, but was solid in his defensive duties.

MF, Wilder Cartagena, 6.5 (MotM) — This was possibly Cartagena’s best performance of the season. His 85 touches were second-most on the team and he completed 76.5% of his team-high 68 passes, including a key pass and two of his six long balls. It was his shielding of Nathan Saliba and strong pass forward for Duncan McGuire that started the last goal, though he didn’t get an assist. The defensive midfielder was also active defensively with five tackles and three interceptions, and he won a pair of aerial duels. His overall performance earns him my Man of the Match.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 6.5 — Araujo had a similar performance to Cartagena, but fewer touches and more accurate passing. He recorded 55 touches and completed 93.9% of his 49 passes, including a key pass. He was less active than his partner defensively, recording three tackles, and was booked in the 63rd minute.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 6 — Angulo had one of his better performances in this one, recording 48 touches and completing 82.1% of his 39 passes. His biggest impact on the game came two minutes into second-half stoppage time, when he connected with an excellent Martin Ojeda cross to even the game at 2-2. He nearly scored a winner five minutes later, but the pass from Ojeda was just a bit too far for him. His goal was one of his two shots and the only one on target.

MF, Nico Lodeiro, 6 — Lodeiro’s 45 touches were the fewest of the Orlando City midfield, but he did the most with them. The playmaker completed 91.4% of his 35 passes, including a key pass, but couldn’t connect on his long ball or either of his two crosses. He was also caught offside and dispossessed twice before being replaced by Ojeda in the 77th minute.

MF, Facundo Torres, 6 — Torres’ 65 touches were the most in the Lions’ midfield and the fourth most on the team. He completed 83.7% of his 49 passes, but didn’t connect on his two crosses or four long balls. The attacker took three shots and put one on target. In the 22nd minute, the midfielder stepped up and buried his second penalty of the season and ninth as a Lion, continuing her perfect record from the spot.

F, Luis Muriel, 6 — While Oscar Pareja had previously been starting Muriel behind McGuire, the forward got the start alone up top for the second consecutive game. He had 34 touches and completed 68.4% of his 19 passes, including his lone long ball but neither of his two crosses. His biggest impact on the game came in the 20th minute, when he tipped the ball past Montreal goalkeeper Jonathan Sirois, drawing the penalty that resulted in the first equalizer. He also had a shot of his own, but it was off target.

Substitutes

F, Duncan McGuire (63’), 6 — McGuire came on in the 63rd minute for Muriel. He had 16 touches in 27 minutes, completing eight of his 10 passes (80%) with a key pass. His lone shot came in the 90th minute, when Jansson headed the ball over to him and he probably should’ve equalized, but his volley was just wide. The striker also won three aerial duels.

MF, Martin Ojeda (77’), 6.5 — Ojeda came on in the 77th minute for Lodeiro and, similar to Lodeiro last week, made a big difference. He had 15 touches and completed four of his six passes (66.7%), including a key pass. Two minutes into second-half injury time, his excellent cross found Angulo, who touched it in for the equalizer. Five minutes later, he had another great cross that nearly found Angulo for the winner, but was just out of his reach.

D, Rafael Santos (85’), 6 — Santos came on in the 85th minute for Torres as the Lions looked to see out a point. He had nine touches and completed two of his three passes (66.7%), but didn’t connect on his cross or long ball. Coming on to assure the defense, Santos did his job as he recorded a tackle, an interception, and two clearances.


This is how I saw Orlando City’s 2-2 draw with CF Montreal. Let us know how you saw the game and don’t forget to vote for your Man of the Match.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/22/24

Orlando City draws CF Montreal, Pride and OCB win, FA Cup drama, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you down in Florida. Orlando City drew, while the Pride and OCB both won over the weekend. I had friends in town, so I went to Wrigley Field to check out a Cubs game and show them around Chicago. Let’s wish former Orlando City midfielder Kaka and Pride defender Brianna Martinez a happy birthday! There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Lions Draw at CF Montreal

Orlando City again had to overcome a 2-1 deficit on the road when it faced CF Montreal Saturday night. The Lions needed a late stoppage-time goal from Ivan Angulo to walk out of Stade Saputo with a 2-2 draw. Orlando has now picked up points in each of the last four matches. Orlando City will face CF Montreal again on July 26 in the MLS Leagues Cup during the competition’s group stage. The Lions’ next match will be Saturday at Inter&Co Stadium as it takes on Toronto FC.

Orlando Pride Defeat San Diego Wave

The Orlando Pride shut out the San Diego Wave 1-0 on Friday at Inter&Co Stadium and got their second consecutive win with that same scoreline. Summer Yates scored the lone goal in the first half to seal the win for Orlando. Zambian international striker Barbra Banda made her debut for the Pride, coming off the bench in the second half. The Pride remain undefeated through five league matches and are fifth in the NWSL table with nine points. The team will be on the road to face the Washington Spirit Friday.

OCB Wins on the Road at Crown Legacy FC

Orlando City B got a 2-0 win against Crown Legacy FC at the Sportsplex at Matthews on Friday. Alex Freeman and Shak Mohammed scored for the Young Lions, and Javier Otero made six saves. OCB completed its two-match road trip, securing four out of a possible six points, and has kept its unbeaten streak on the road alive at four matches. OCB is in fifth in the MLS NEXT Pro Eastern Conference with nine points, while Crown Legacy is winless in five matches. OCB will be back in action this Sunday as it hosts Toronto FC II at Osceola County Stadium.

Manchester United and Manchester City Advance to FA Cup Final

Manchester United won 4-2 on penalties after a 3-3 draw against Coventry City in the FA Cup semifinals to advance to the final. It was a thrilling match at Wembley as United had a 3-0 lead before Coventry City rallied to get back into the match. USMNT forward Haji Wright scored the equalizer to tie the match 3-3 late into stoppage time. Coventry City thought it scored the game-winning goal late into extra time from Victor Torp, but it was ruled offside after video review. Casemiro missed his penalty for United, while Wright and Torp gave Coventry City a 2-1 advantage. United converted four straight penalties while Coventry City missed two to seal the win for the Red Devils. Manchester City edged past Chelsea 1-0 in their semifinal matchup, with Bernardo Silva scoring the lone goal in the second half. The FA Cup final will be played at the end of May and will feature a Manchester Derby for the second consecutive time.

Free Kicks

  • In case you missed it, check out this video on Orlando City’s social media page on Ivan Angulo’s equalizer to tie the match in stoppage time against CF Montreal on Saturday.

According to OptaJack, the Pride have secured the most points at home during the regular season since last May, with 26.

  • USMNT defender Sergino Dest suffered a knee injury during training with PSV Eindhoven over the weekend. Dest will miss the remainder of the Eredivisie season and could miss the 2024 Copa America this summer.
  • Real Madrid came back from being 2-1 down to defeat Barcelona 3-2 and stay ahead of its rivals by 11 points with six league matches left.
  • Bayer Leverkusen extended its unbeaten run to 45 matches after scoring a late goal from Josip Stanisic in stoppage time to get a 1-1 draw against Borussia Dortmund.
  • Serie A side Udinese is reportedly set to hire former Juventus and Real Madrid player Fabio Cannavaro as its next head coach.

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

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