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Orlando City

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



Orlando City got its 2022 MLS campaign off to a great start, defeating CF Montreal 2-0. Goals by Alexandre Pato and Benji Michel led the way as the Lions won their first season opener since 2017.

Let’s take a look at how each player performed for the Lions.


GK, Pedro Gallese, 7 — The Lions’ starting goalkeeper didn’t have a whole lot to do in this game, only facing two shots on target. However, he did well throughout the game coming off his line to collect balls before the attacker could reach it. Additionally, Gallese’s distribution was solid, successfully completing seven of his nine long balls. He only had a pair of saves, but must be given credit for recording his first clean sheet of the season.

D, Joao Moutinho, 6 — Moutinho’s performance didn’t stand out in this game, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. While Ruan often pushed forward on the right, Moutinho stayed back more than he did much of last year, putting himself in a better position to defend any counter attacks. He ended the game with one clearance, one blocked shot, and three fouls defensively. He completed 81.5% of his 54 passes and had one key pass in the attack. However, most importantly, Montreal wasn’t able to do much on that side because of the left back’s strong play.

D, Robin Jansson, 6 — Jansson was unquestionably the man of the first half in this game. The Swede was fantastic defending early when the Lions weren’t able to get anything going offensively. He ended the game with two tackles and four clearances. Additionally, he completed 91.5% of his 47 passes, including four accurate long balls.

Had Jansson finished the game on the field, his grade would’ve been higher. However, he made an unnecessary tactical foul in the 81st minute, resulting in a red card. Despite the fact that his first caution was questionable, Jansson knew he was on a yellow and there were defenders behind him. The Lions were up a man at the time and the sending off put undue pressure on the team to hold on for the win.

D, Antonio Carlos, 7.5 — Carlos was absent for much of preseason as he had trouble getting his visa to re-enter the country, but showed how important he is to this team. The Brazilian was fantastic alongside Jansson. Carlos had two tackles, one interception, and a team-leading nine clearances. He also won two aerial balls, tied for the team lead. Going forward, he completed 93% of his 43 passes, including completing four of his five long balls.

D, Ruan, 6.5  — Ruan spent much of the game pushing forward into the attack, something that’s become common since he joined the team. He completed 81.1% of his 37 passes and was accurate in one of his three crosses. His biggest contribution was delivering the low cross into the box that led to Pato’s opening goal, although some bad defending by Montreal helped.

Defensively, Ruan didn’t record any tackles or interceptions, but had two clearances. The lack of defensive stats was because Ruan wasn’t able to get back much. Instead, he went down frequently in the attack, forcing Cesar Araujo to cover for him. Still, it was a solid game by the Lions first-choice right back.

MF, Andres Perea, 5.5 — It wasn’t a bad game by Perea but he wasn’t as involved as Head Coach Oscar Pareja probably would’ve liked. The 21-year-old only completed 83.3% of his 24 passes, allowing Montreal to break on multiple counter attacks during the first half. Defensively, Perea only recorded one tackle. The young midfielder was substituted for Junior Urso at halftime.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 6 — Araujo was very active in his first MLS game, recording 61 touches, tied for most on the team alongside Moutinho. He completed 88.5% of his 52 passes and got a shot off that went off-target. Defensively, Araujo didn’t have any tackles, but did have two interceptions and picked up a yellow card in 90 minutes of action.

MF, Benji Michel, 6.5 — The Orlando City Homegrown Player did well in his first start of the season. He only had 23 touches on the left, but completed 92.3% of his 13 passes. More importantly, Michel put away his only shot of the match in the 59th minute, giving the Lions a commanding 2-0 lead.

MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 6.5 — Pereyra didn’t have the most impactful 75 minutes, only recording 42 touches despite being the number 10 on a team that won 2-0. He completed 83.3% of his 36 passes, including the pass to find Ruan in a dangerous area on the team’s first goal and assisting on the second. His one shot was off-target. He also completed all four of his long passes, something of importance considering how deep he tends to play.

MF, Facundo Torres, 6 — The 21-year-old Uruguayan played well in this game but didn’t have the impact many had hoped. He was on the ball slightly more than Pereyra, recording 49 touches, and only completed 82.4% of his 34 passes. Playing on the right, he did have seven crosses, but only one reached its target. Additionally, he got two shots off, but both were off target. He was involved in the buildup on the opening goal.

F, Alexandre Pato, 7.5 (MotM) — Pato missed most of last year after he was injured in the 2021 season opener against Atlanta. However, the Lions saw what Pato can give the team in this game. Playing alone up top, Pato was excellent. He only completed 73.3% of his 15 passes, but was involved and recorded 25 touches.

Pato was terrific in the attack, putting two of his three shots on target and scoring his first goal in MLS. A surprising part of Pato’s game was his hold-up play. The forward is usually best when the ball is at his feet, but the 5-foot-9 striker was excellent with his back to goal. He was able to win clearances and shield defenders until other attackers could catch up to the play.


MF, Junior Urso (46’), 6 — Junior Urso came on at halftime for Perea in the central defensive midfield. He had five fewer touches (25) than Perea and only completed 77.8% of his 18 passes. However, Urso was more active defensively, recording one tackle and two interceptions. Additionally, he recorded a secondary assist in the build-up to Michel’s goal, starting the play by intercepting a goal kick.

F, Ercan Kara (69’), 5 — Kara came off the bench for the final 21 minutes after recovering from a preseason injury. The new Designated Player didn’t have the biggest impact, only recording seven touches and completing one of his three passes. He also didn’t get any shots off.

Kara’s game could’ve been better when he was sent through late, but he was taken down before he could reach the ball. It’s arguable that it should’ve been Montreal’s second red card as he was taken down by the last defender, but the referee only issued a caution.

F, Silvester van der Water (76’), 5 — Similar to Kara, van der Water didn’t do much in his 14 minutes. Coming on late for energy, the Dutch attacker only touched the ball seven times and completed two of his three passes. He did well to pull the ball back and maintain possession when it was needed, but his one incomplete pass was an attempted switch that gave the ball right back to Montreal.

MF, Sebas Mendez (76’), 6 — Mendez was brought on for defensive purposes and to maintain possession. He did much more with his nine touches than other substitutes, successfully completing all seven passes. He also recorded a clearance, which was part of his role as the Lions looked to hold onto their late 2-0 lead.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel (83’), 6 — Schlegel may not have expected to enter the game down the stretch, but Jansson’s second yellow card forced the Argentine to come on at center back. He wasn’t forced to make any defensive plays in his late appearance, but did complete all three of his passes, getting the ball out of the back.

That’s how I saw the performances in Orlando City’s 2-0 win over Montreal. Let us know how you saw the game and don’t forget to vote on your Man of the Match below.

Polling Closed

Alexandre Pato51
Robin Jansson6
Antonio Carlos31
Benji Michel3
Mauricio Pereyra11
Other (Comment Below)11

Lion Links

Lion Links: 11/30/23

Orlando City faces big questions, Matt Miazga suspended, Emma Hayes meets USWNT for first time, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

November is finally coming to a close. It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster of a month for me, with highs, lows, and many things in between. All in all, I’m pretty glad it’s nearly over, although I expect December to be similarly hectic. At least this weather is allowing me to break out some winter clothes and turn on the fireplace in this new apartment. I’m not sure why a fireplace was installed in a Floridian apartment, but I’m not complaining. Let’s dive into today’s links!

Big Decisions Await Orlando City

With Orlando City’s season over, attention now turns to a critical off-season for the club. Head Coach Oscar Pareja is out of contract after leading the Lions to the playoffs for the past four years. The club will also need to decide if it will exercise the 2024 options on the contracts of both Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Luiz Muzzi and Technical Director and Assistant General Manager Ricardo Moreira. All three have orchestrated Orlando’s transformation that’s included winning its first trophy, having its best season this year, and qualifying for both the Concacaf Champions League and Champions Cup. Potentially transferring Facundo Torres to Europe, filling the empty Designated Player slot, and deciding which players to bring back for 2024 are also on the agenda. However, figuring out who will lead the Lions into this exciting next chapter is paramount. Personally, I think the club should do everything in its power to keep the people who brought Orlando to this point.

Matt Miazga Suspended for Three Games

FC Cincinnati will be without MLS Defender of the Year Matt Miazga for Saturday’s Eastern Conference final, as he was suspended by MLS for three games due to his misconduct after the match with the New York Red Bulls on Nov. 4. Miazga was also fined an undisclosed amount and will undergo a behavioral assessment as part of the league’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program. Following that aforementioned playoff match, reports surfaced that Miazga gained unauthorized access to an area reserved for the referees and acted aggressively. Any suspended games not served during Cincy’s playoff run will carry over into the 2024 season, although Miazga can petition for a reduction based on compliance with recommended treatment plans.

Emma Hayes Meets With USWNT Players and Staff

Emma Hayes, who was hired as the next United States Women’s National Team Head Coach earlier this month, made the trip to Florida to meet the team for the first time. Although she won’t be coaching the team for its upcoming pair of friendlies against China, she collaborated with interim head coach Twila Kilgore on the latest training camp roster and will continue to work with her until taking over in May. There won’t be much time between Hayes’ official start date and the 2024 Summer Olympics, making these moments of face time between player and future coach all the more important. USWNT captain Lindsey Horan spoke on the team’s goals after meeting Hayes for the first time.

“There’s so much talent in this team, and I don’t think the world has seen enough of it yet just because we need to go out and show it,” Horan said. “We need to be able to mesh together and show everything that we have, and what we’re all about, and how we can really collaborate and play together — be more of a team and be a powerhouse again.

“It’s going to be exciting for us to have her and see what she can do with this team and how she can help us moving forward.”

Ricardo Pepi Sends PSV Into Champions League Knockout Stage

PSV Eindhoven clinched its spot in the next round of the UEFA Champions League in dramatic fashion, with American forward Ricardo Pepi scoring the winner in a 3-2 comeback win over Sevilla in Spain. Trailing 2-0 in the second half, American left back Sergino Dest provided the assist on PSV’s first goal and Pepi found the winner in stoppage time, with fellow American Malik Tillman also coming off the bench. From his little flick to send a teammate forward to his run and clinical header, it was a great goal by the 20-year-old.

Elsewhere in the Champions League, Arsenal beat Lens 6-0 to advance, Real Madrid won 4-2 against Napoli to win its group, and Real Sociedad played to a scoreless draw with RB Salzburg. Manchester United remains in last place of its group after a 3-3 draw with Galatasaray, with goalkeeper Andre Onana unable to stop Hakim Ziyech from scoring off of two free kicks. All’s not lost for United though, as it can still qualify for the round of 16 by beating Bayern Munich at home so long as the other match ends in the group ends in a draw. It all makes for what should be an exciting final matchday in the group stage.

Free Kicks

  • The Kansas City Current announced that American midfielder Sam Mewis will not be returning to the club for the 2024 season. The 31-year-old has not played since 2021 as she continues to recover from a knee injury.
  • The Utah Royals have signed free agent forward Imani Dorsey on a contract through the 2025 season. Dorsey has most recently played for NJ/NY Gotham FC, although she didn’t participate in this past season due to mental health reasons.
  • Manchester United is reportedly ready to move on from Mason Mount just six months after he joined the team from Chelsea.
  • Tomasz Kwiatkowski, the video assistant referee involved in a controversial handball that eventually led to Paris Saint-Germain’s equalizer in stoppage time against Newcastle, was removed from his next scheduled duty by UEFA.
  • Amidst a four-game winless streak, French club Nantes has fired Pierre Aristouy as its manager, immediately replacing him with Jocelyn Gourvennec.
  • We’ll end our links with this interesting article that dives into how Romelu Lukaku unexpectedly arrived at AS Roma and how he’s thriving at the Italian club.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a wonderful Thursday and rest of your week!

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Orlando City

2023 Orlando City Season in Review: Alex Freeman

We start our Orlando City player reviews with a look at a Homegrown fullback who made his MLS debut this season.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B

Orlando City signed fullback Alex Freeman to a Homegrown Player contract on February 15, 2022. He became the Lions’ 12th Homegrown signing and his deal runs through the 2025 season with a club option for 2026, but the youngster did not see action in Major League Soccer last season. With the departure of Ruan, there was an opportunity for Freeman to win a job with the first team in camp but he wasn’t quite ready to make the jump, instead playing an important role with Orlando City B throughout the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro season.

Let’s take a look back at Freeman’s 2023 campaign.

Statistical Breakdown

Freeman made his MLS debut on April 29 in a 2-0 home win over the LA Galaxy. It was not just his debut with the first team, but it was also his only appearance with the senior squad in 2023, although he did make the substitutes’ bench a few times after that. Officially, he logged only one minute, entering in the 93rd minute. He was only on the pitch a matter of seconds, so it’s unsurprising that he registered nothing on the stats sheet.

The son of former NFL receiver Antonio Freeman, Alex starred with OCB in 2023. In MLS NEXT Pro play, Freeman appeared in 24 of OCB’s 28 matches, starting 22, and logging 1,855 minutes. He finished tied for third on the squad in goals (4), adding three assists and passing at a 79.1% success rate. Freeman attempted 25 shots, putting 11 on target, and contributed 10 key passes. He committed 22 fouls, drew 27 on the opposition, and was booked four times. He also started OCB’s playoff match at Columbus, playing 89 minutes in the Young Lions’ 2-1 road loss. Freeman didn’t contribute a goal or assist or attempt a shot in the match, but he passed at an 88% rate, created one scoring chance, and committed one foul.

Best Game

With only one MLS appearance to his credit, the default best game for Freeman came on April 29 in Orlando City’s 2-0 home win over the LA Galaxy. Freeman didn’t even officially touch the ball in the game, but it’s not every day a teenager gets to play in an MLS match, and I’m sure it was a special moment for him. It was certainly a milestone in his professional soccer career.

2023 Final Grade

As Freeman fell well short of the minimum 450 minutes played mark to receive a rating on our 1-10 scale, The Mane Land has no choice but to mark his grade as incomplete for the 2023 season. There are areas of Freeman’s game that need a bit of refining, but at the same time, it’s easy to see why he landed a Homegrown contract, why Orlando City would find him an intriguing prospect, and why he’s been getting called up by the United States for U-20 international duty. His attacking presence was huge for OCB in 2023 and he was one of the key players that led the Young Lions to the postseason.

2024 Outlook

I would expect Freeman to get more seasoning at OCB in 2024, although he’ll be given opportunities in preseason camp to show whether he’s closed the gap on the likes of Michael Halliday and Kyle Smith (assuming both return). If the club moves on from both Halliday and Smith, it’s not hard to picture Freeman starting the season providing depth at right back for the first team. Having just turned 19 in August, Freeman has a lot of potential and he should start to unlock that within the next year or so.

This is the first of our 2023 Orlando City Season in Review articles. Every player who played minutes this past season and who finished the year on the club roster will be reviewed (exceptions may be made for players let go when the club officially announces its roster moves). Players who logged fewer than 450 minutes (combined regular season plus playoffs, Concacaf Champions League, U.S. Open Cup, and Leagues Cup) will receive a composite score between 1 and 10 as determined by a panel of The Mane Land writers, while those who did not reach that threshold will receive an incomplete grade.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 11/29/23

Orlando Pride players called up by Brazil, MLS announces 2023 Best XI, latest MLS roster moves, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Hello, Mane Landers I hope all is well down in Florida. I’ve been very busy working throughout the holiday weekend at Under Armour. This week I’ll be working at Wrigley Field for Winterland while getting ready to cover high school wrestling tomorrow night. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Pride Players Called Up By Brazil for Friendlies

Orlando Pride defender Rafaelle and forwards Marta and Adriana have been called up to the Brazil Women’s National Team for its upcoming friendlies.

Brazil will play two matches against Japan on Nov. 30 and Dec. 3 in Sao Paulo before playing Nicaragua on Dec. 6 at Estadio Fonte Luminosa in Araraquara.

MLS Announces the 2023 Best XI

Major League Soccer announced its 2023 Best XI, recognizing the league’s top players at each position. There were no Orlando City players selected for the team and eight players received the honor for the first time. Those players are St. Louis City’s Roman Burki and Tim Parker, FC Cincinnati defender Matt Miazga, Atlanta United duo Thiago Almada and Giorgos Giakoumakis, Houston Dynamo midfielder Hector Herrera, LAFC’s Denis Bouanga, and Columbus Crew forward Cucho Hernandez. Nashville SC’s Hany Mukhtar made the Best XI for the third consecutive time, while teammate Walker Zimmerman was named to it for the fifth time. MLS MVP Luciano Acosta of FC Cincinnati rounds out the list.

Latest MLS Off-season Roster Moves

The Colorado Rapids announced their latest roster changes as they prepare for the the 2024 season under new Head Coach Chris Armas. The club exercised its options for defender Andrew Gutman, midfielder Ralph Priso, and forward Calvin Harris. The Rapids declined contract offers to seven players, with the most notable names being defender Steven Beitashour and goalkeeper William Yarbrough, although the Rapids are in discussions about re-signing Yarbrough. Elsewhere, the New England Revolution exercised the permanent transfer option on forward Tomas Chancalay, signing him to a Designated Player contract through 2026, with a club option for the 2027 season.

UEFA Champions League Roundup

Champions League action returned in Europe, as we get close to wrapping up the group stage in a couple of weeks. Manchester City overcame a two-goal deficit to beat RB Leipzig 3-2 and win Group G. Newcastle United had a chance to qualify for the round of 16 but gave up a late penalty to Paris Saint-Germain, which Kylian Mbappe converted to end the match in a 1-1 draw. Borussia Dortmund beat AC Milan 3-1 to book its spot in the knockout stage. PSG, Newcastle, and AC Milan are all still alive in Group F heading into the final matchday in December. Shakhtar Donetsk won 1-0 against Royal Antwerp and also still has a shot to advance on the final matchday. Lazio, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, and Young Boys all won their respective matches as well. Today’s matches include Manchester United on the road against Galatasaray, Real Madrid taking on Napoli, and Sevilla facing off with PSV Eindhoven.

Free Kicks

  • Concacaf has announced that BMO Stadium, Dignity Health Sports Park, Shell Energy Stadium, and Snapdragon Stadium will be the four venues that will host matches for the 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup.
  • Barcelona midfielder Gavi will be sidelined for up to 10 months after undergoing knee surgery after suffering a torn ACL in his right knee.
  • The International Football Association Board approved a trial for sin bins, meaning players punished for dissent or specific tactical offense would be temporarily removed from the match for a set amount of minutes.
  • You have got to see this goal from Cwrt Rawlin FC in the Welsh seventh division.

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

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