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

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The Cardiac Cats are back as Orlando City scored in stoppage time to win 2-1 over D.C. United and climbed back up the Eastern Conference standings. Both of Orlando’s goals came from corner kicks as Robin Jansson and Daryl Dike found the back of the net to overcome an early goal by Julian Gressel.

Let’s dive into how each Lion performed in the team’s first win since Sept. 4.

Starters

GK, Pedro Gallese, 5 — Gallese was beaten at the near post by Gressel’s powerful shot from distance that seemed to catch the Peruvian goalkeeper off guard. El Pulpo also had a nervy moment early in the second half when he couldn’t handle a cross into the box, but D.C. ultimately wasn’t able to capitalize on the opportunity. Apart from those moments, it was a fairly quiet night for Gallese as he had one save and 26 touches. He completed 15 of his 19 passes for a 79% rate and was accurate on three of his seven attempted long balls. While he hasn’t had a clean sheet since a scoreless match with Inter Miami on Aug. 27, this was the first time since that match that Orlando hasn’t conceded multiple goals in a game. Gallese will join Peru for World Cup qualifiers during this international break.

D, João Moutinho, 6 — Moutinho was fairly involved when on the field, but was taken off at halftime. He had 50 touches in Orlando’s first half and 40 passes at an 83% completion rate. His only attempted cross was unsuccessful as Orlando’s other playmakers weaved most of the team’s chances. Defensively, Moutinho had a tackle, an interception, and a clearance. If his substitution was due to an injury concern, at least he has time to recover as Orlando’s next game isn’t until a road trip to face FC Cincinnati on Oct. 16.

D, Robin Jansson, 7.5 (MotM) — The Swede did a great job following through on a corner kick to score Orlando’s first goal, slamming the ball into the net after Hamid made a save. It was Jansson’s second goal of the season as he continues to make an impact on set pieces. On the defensive side of things, Jansson had three interceptions and a defensive block to limit D.C.’s chances alongside Antonio Carlos. He had 63 touches and completed 87% of his passes. Jansson is the Man of the Match for helping Orlando respond to Gressel’s goal with one of his own and also clamping down on a D.C. offense that scored 12 goals in the previous four games leading up to this match.

D, Antonio Carlos, 7.5 — Carlos led the Lions with seven interceptions as he used great vision and his large frame to cut off passes and regain possession. He also had a tackle and three clearances to help keep D.C.’s offense quiet. He made an important defensive play in the 40th minute to prevent an Ola Kamara breakaway. The center back completed 50 of his 52 passes for a 96% success rate, which is fantastic considering D.C.’s high press to try to force mistakes. Carlos was calm, cool, and collected with 70 touches in the match and no committed fouls — important since he entered the match one yellow card shy of a suspension. His two shots came late in the match as Orlando hunted for a winner. Both were deflected, with the first going out for the corner that led to Dike’s goal.

D, Ruan, 5.5 — The right back’s crossing ability still leaves something to be desired as he was unsuccessful on all three of his attempts. However, one of those crosses was a low effort to Dike that had to be forced out for the corner that resulted in Orlando’s first goal. Ruan seems to be getting better at cutback passes into the box after sprinting down the right side rather than trying to loft the ball in front of goal for someone to head in. He had three tackles and his quickness allowed him to chase down loose balls before D.C. players could reach them. He got beat down his side a couple of times and gave the ball away in his own end a few times in the first half, which affected his score. Ruan played every minute and finished with 68 touches while completing 75% of his 44 passes.

MF, Sebas Mendez, 7 — The Ecuadorian midfielder led the Lions with 97 touches and also had 90 passes at a great 96% success rate. Mendez’ role was crucial for the Lions to get past D.C.’s press as he served as an outlet for passes to help build possession. He had two interceptions and a clearance to help solidify Orlando’s defense in the center of the field. While he didn’t make much of an impact on offense beyond helping the Lions string together passes, his presence allowed players like Mauricio Pereyra and Nani to push higher upfield.

MF, Junior Urso, 5.5 — While Urso made a great play by safely intercepting a low cross in front of goal without putting it into his own net, that initial chance for D.C. was created by Urso’s dispossession and his attempted clearance didn’t end the danger. It was a series of moments that happened for Urso in the match as he tended to turn the ball over and then hustled to make up for it. He also gave away a couple of unnecessary free kicks in his defensive half. He played all 90 minutes and had 77 touches while completing 50 of his 60 passes for an 83% success rate. Urso had a tackle, an interception, and a blocked shot in the match. Offensively, he was able to get enough behind his header from a corner to force a save from Hamid, with Jansson there to put it away. That was one of his two shots and the other was deflected late in the match for a corner. Urso has played every minute of Orlando’s past five games so the international break comes at a great time for the Bear.

MF, Benji Michel, 5.5 — The Homegrown Player used his speed to make great runs throughout the match, flying under the radar a bit to find good spaces. His only shot came in the 35th minute as a great ball by Nani found him in the box. Michel made a nice cutback to shake his defender, but his shot skipped just wide of goal. He didn’t have any key passes and his only cross was unsuccessful. He finished with 36 touches in 82 minutes of action and chipped in with a clearance and an interception when defending.

MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 6.5 — Pereyra did well pulling the strings for Orlando’s offense before coming off in the 71st minute for Silvester van der Water. Both of Pereyra’s two key passes were from corner kicks, including the great service that led to Orlando’s goal. He also attempted two crosses in open play but neither found their target. Pereyra also had a shot, but it was deflected. He finished with 60 touches and completed 83% of his 46 attempted passes.

MF, Nani, 6.5 — The captain was most productive in the first half. Nani made two key passes to set up good opportunities for Orlando and also had two shots, although both were deflected. His only cross of the match was unsuccessful and he shifted to a central role once Pereyra was subbed off. Nani wasn’t able to get much going in the second half and was taken off in the 81st minute for fresher legs. He had 61 touches, three clearances, a tackle, and 44 passes at an 84% success rate. Nani hasn’t scored or made an assist in his past five appearances, but this was his longest shift during that stretch and he will have time to rest before Orlando’s next match.

F, Daryl Dike, 7 — With two defenders covering him, Dike literally rose to the occasion in the final moments of the match to head the ball into the underside of the crossbar and into goal for the game-winner. Dike was outright unstoppable whenever the ball was in his vicinity during the match, using his strength to get past defenders and making two clearances with his head as well. His goal was one of his two shots, the other going off-target early on in the match. D.C. was determined to lock him down and he ended the game with just 26 touches and seven passes at a 100% completion rate as Orlando struggled to get him involved when D.C. dug in its heels in the second half. Regardless, Dike gave Orlando all three points with his late winner and has scored in three straight matches against the Eastern Conference’s toughest opposition.

Substitutes

D, Emmanuel Mas (46’), 6 — The left back came on for Moutinho at halftime and ended up leading the Lions with four tackles and three clearances. He did well on both sides of the ball and came alive on offense once Mueller joined the fray as the pair used their speed and footwork to attack the left side. Mas had 64 touches and was successful on 85% of his 41 passes. It was a solid outing from the Argentine defender.

MF, Silvester van der Water (71’), 5 — Van der Water came on for Pereyra and wasn’t able to make much of an impact with no shots or key passes. His only cross was unsuccessful and he finished with 13 touches and eight passes at a 75% success rate. It wasn’t his best outing, but he wasn’t terrible by any means and helped switch the flow of play when needed.

MF, Andres Perea (81’), N/A — Coming on late for Mendez, Perea completed 14 of 15 passes for a 93% success rate and had 15 touches. He wasn’t involved much in the team’s late push for a goal as D.C. was still capable of going on the counter if Orlando’s attack fell apart. While he didn’t play enough minutes to be graded, he still earns some bonus points for giving Dike a pair of sunglasses during his goal celebration. But where did he get them?

F, Tesho Akindele (81’), N/A — The Canadian nearly scored the winner in the 88th minute with a sliding shot to put the ball on target, but Hamid came up with a great save from his knees and it was cleared off the line. It was his only shot of an otherwise quiet performance as he only had three touches and one pass, which he completed.

MF, Chris Mueller (82’), N/A — It was Mueller’s first appearance since a cameo on Sept. 15 and the winger tried to make the most of his few minutes on the field. He had 26 touches and completed nine of his 13 passes for a 69% completion rate as he worked to make something happen while both of Orlando’s Designated Players were off the field. Mueller delivered the team’s only successful cross in open play, had two key passes, and was also successful on three of his five corner kicks, including the game-winning assist. His corner kick for Orlando’s winner was sublime as he delivered a great ball into traffic for Dike to reach and flick towards goal. With Mueller leaving the team after this year and only a few home games left this regular season, it will certainly be a moment to remember.


That’s how I saw things play out in Orlando’s 2-1 win at home. Make sure to weigh in on how you feel about the grades in the comments below and to vote for who you think deserves the title of Man of the Match.

Polling Closed

PlayerVotes
Junior Urso44
Ruan31
Mauricio Pereyra3
Other (Comment Below)6

Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/12/24

Orlando Pride play in Utah tonight, Orlando City B earns a point, Europa League quarterfinals begin, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City B

Happy Friday! I hope this week has gone smoothly for you as we gear up for even more Orlando soccer tonight and tomorrow. It should be a nice next few days, even if I’m working for most of it. I don’t have many plans outside of work beyond bonding with my cat and trying a new stuffed bread recipe. Let’s dive into today’s links from around the soccer world!

Orlando Pride Play the Utah Royals Tonight

The Orlando Pride are on the road tonight for a showdown with the Utah Royals at 9:30 p.m., and you can catch the game on NWSL+ or through Bally Sports if you’re local. Although the Royals are an expansion team this year, the Pride last squared off against the previous Royals back in 2019, with Orlando losing all three games to Utah that season. This season, the Pride are riding a three-game unbeaten streak. However, they are also still on the hunt for their first win after three consecutive draws. While the offense awaits the arrival of Zambian striker Barbra Banda, the Pride have managed to score off of a set piece in each of their three games so far. While a draw on the road wouldn’t be awful by any means, hopefully the Pride can get a solid tally in the win column tonight.

Orlando City B Draws Philadelphia Union II

OCB went on the road to take on Philadelphia Union II and earned a single point after a 1-1 draw and penalty shootout. The two teams traded goals in the first half, but the Young Lions were on the back foot for most of the second half. While Orlando’s offense sputtered, the defense survived chance after chance from Philadelphia to send the game to a shootout. Orlando lost the lengthy shootout, 7-6, claiming just one point, but at least the Young Lions didn’t leave Pennsylvania empty handed. Hopefully OCB can return to its winning ways when it faces off with Crown Legacy FC on April 19.

New York City FC Stadium Plans Finally Approved

Plans to build a soccer-specific stadium in Queens for new grounds for New York City FC were approved by New York City officials. It will be a $780 million stadium expected to open in 2027 and serves as the centerpiece of a redevelopment project in the neighborhood. The 25,000-seat stadium will be right next to Citi Field, which has been one of the many home venues for NYCFC over the years since joining as an expansion side alongside Orlando City in 2015. It’s a bit wild that this stadium is set to open 10 years after Orlando christened its own soccer-specific stadium back in 2017. At least the Lions won’t have to play road games at baseball stadiums for much longer.

Europa League Quarterfinals Kick Off

The Europa League quarterfinals are underway, with the remaining eight teams squaring off in the first legs of their matchups. In England, Atalanta leaned on a brace from Gianluca Scamacca and stellar defense to win 3-0 against Liverpool. Bayer Leverkusen’s unbeaten streak stretched to 42 games after it beat West Ham United 2-0, thanks to a pair of late goals. The first match between Italian clubs AC Milan and Roma went to the visitors, as Roma scored early on and held on for a 1-0 win at San Siro. The only quarterfinal that wasn’t a shutout took place in Portugal, with Benfica beating Marseille, 2-1. The second legs will all take place at the same time next week, which should make for an exciting Thursday afternoon of soccer.

Free Kicks


That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!

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Orlando City

Orlando City at D.C. United: Three Keys to Victory

What does Orlando City need to do to earn its first away victory of the season?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Jeremy Reper

Orlando City is back in action this Saturday night against D.C. United at Audi Field. Despite coming off back-to-back results, the off-week was well timed for the Lions. A little extra rest for the squad, plus giving players time to recuperate from various knocks should mean a nearly full strength Orlando City.

What does Orlando City need to do to earn all three points on the road against its Eastern Conference rivals?

The Dynamic Duo Return

Cesar Araujo returned to the Orlando City lineup against the New York Red Bulls, meaning the Lions should finally have their top choice defensive midfield pairing back together. The timing couldn’t be more perfect given Orlando City will be dealing with D.C. United striker Christian Benteke. He has five goals in five matches, which is half of the 10 goals D.C. United has scored all season.

So far this regular season, every match in which the Lions give up more than one goal has resulted in a loss. Keeping Benteke and the rest of D.C. United off of the score sheet is critical to getting a result. Orlando City can concede one goal and still walk away with points on the road, but only if the Lions manage to accomplish the next key below.

Goals are the Goal

To say Orlando City has been wasteful in front of goal is a bit of an understatement. So far this regular season, the Lions have 93 shots, with 27 on target, but only five goals. Orlando City has created scoring opportunities, but failed to convert them in anything close to an efficient manner. Of the five goals scored, Duncan McGuire has two, Nico Lodeiro has one, and Jack Lynn has one. The other was credited as an own goal on Lynn’s backheel attempt.

The list of players who haven’t scored yet this season is too long to type, but I don’t need goals from the defenders — though I will take them. I just need Facundo Torres, Ivan Angulo, Luis Muriel, and Martin Ojeda to get something going. Ideally, all four of them score in this match, but I’ll take whatever goals we can get.

End the Trend

Orlando City hasn’t fared well against D.C. United recently. Nearly a year ago, the Lions lost at home 3-1 to the visitors. The last trip to Audi Field was a 1-1 draw in which Orlando City gave up a goal in the 80th minute to settle for a single point. In 2022, Orlando City lost both matches to D.C. United. It’s time to get things going in the right direction.

The Lions also need to stop losing on the road. Losses to Inter Miami and Atlanta both came on the road, with Orlando City yet to find any points away from home. Last season, the Lions were veritable road warriors. The team needs to find that form again as it was a major reason the club finished second in the Supporters’ Shield race.


That is what I will be looking for this weekend as Orlando City takes on D.C. United. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/11/24

Learning more about Morgan Gautrat, OCB plays tonight, Champions League action, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Jeremy Reper

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I’m having a fairly stressful but great week after adopting my first cat and getting him all set up here. It may take a few weeks to turn him into a loyal Orlando soccer fan, but I have high hopes. Regardless, I’m looking forward to the gauntlet of games with Orlando City B playing today, the Orlando Pride tomorrow, and Orlando City on Saturday. Let’s get to the links!

Getting to Know Morgan Gautrat

Orlando Pride midfielder Morgan Gautrat was the latest player to field questions as part of the video series for fans to learn more about the players who wear purple. She weighed in on how she changed her game once she transitioned to the United States Women’s National Team at age 19, going from a playmaking attacker to a player who slots in deeper in the midfield. Gautrat brings leadership, experience, and a strong skillset to a young Pride team that’s built a strong culture around it. She also spoke on how Florida is her soccer home, what her spirit animal is, and the team’s aspirations this season.

Orlando City B Takes On Philadelphia Union II

The Young Lions are on the road today at 4 p.m. for an MLS NEXT Pro match against Philadelphia Union II. OCB last played in Chester, PA in last year’s season opener, winning 3-1 in an impressive victory. The team will hope for a similar result tonight to get back on track after a loss to Inter Miami II earlier this month. Philadelphia has yet to lose in regulation this season and has won both of its home matches. It should be a tough match for the Young Lions, but a great chance to climb back up the Eastern Conference standings for them.

Assessing USWNT After SheBelieves Cup Win

The United States Women’s National Team is moving towards the Olympics with plenty of momentum after winning the SheBelieves Cup and Concacaf W Gold Cup. There were plenty of parallels between the SheBelieves Cup final and the Gold Cup semifinal against Canada, one was just a bit more waterlogged. Canada used a late penalty to send the game to penalty kicks, Sophia Smith scored, and Alyssa Naeher stood on her head in the penalty shootout. The key differences were that Mallory Swanson has given the attack some needed dynamism after returning, and the defense struggles without Naomi Girma to anchor it. It was also Twila Kilgore’s final game as the USWNT’s interim head coach, and now attention will turn towards how Emma Hayes can elevate the team once she takes over.

Champions League Quarterfinals Roll On

Atletico Madrid and Barcelona both won in their first legs of the Champions League quarterfinals, although neither match was a blowout. Atletico Madrid hosted Borussia Dortmund and scored twice in the first half. Dortmund brought one back in the second half, but Atletico Madrid held on to secure a 2-1 win. The road team completed the comeback in the other match though, with Barcelona winning a 3-2 thriller against Paris Saint-Germain that included four goals in the second half. All in all, this was a great round of quarterfinal first legs filled with plenty of goals, and the second legs next week should be pretty entertaining.

Free Kicks

  • Andrew Wiebe was the latest analyst to dive into Orlando’s attacking woes this season. I personally think things will naturally improve once the team gets some rest under its belt and Luis Muriel settles in. I agree with Wiebe though that Wilder Cartagena and Cesar Araujo must return to form.
  • The Champions League shouldn’t overshadow a strong slate of Europa League quarterfinals today. My favorite matchup of the four would have to be the Italian showdown between AC Milan and Roma.
  • English forward Rachel Daly announced that she is retiring from international soccer. The 32-year-old scored 22 goals last season with Aston Villa and has scored 16 goals in 84 appearances with England.
  • Midfielder Dillon Serna is hanging up his cleats at age 30 after a career that included time with the Colorado Rapids and Colorado Springs Switchbacks.
  • Manchester City’s Rodri is feeling the wear and tear of his team’s pursuit for silverware. Rest may be hard to come by for him during a congested schedule, and he hasn’t lost in the past 66 games he’s played in.
  • Former Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy shared the struggle he had after retiring, providing details on his drug addiction and the despair felt after he quit playing.

That’s all I have for you today on this fine Thursday. Treat yourself to something you deserve, check in with a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, and have a great day!

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