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Orlando City vs. LA Galaxy: Player Grades and Man of the Match

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Orlando City’s trip to Los Angeles took on added importance after fumbling away points at home to FC Cincinnati a week ago. The Lions have historically done poorly on the west coast, especially in the state of California, so I wasn’t too optimistic about them bringing points home, let alone three. Yet the team dug in and kept concentration throughout a tight, nervy affair, playing much of it in their own third. Orlando City’s 1-0 win over the Galaxy can be seen as a “makeup win” of sorts after the Cincinnati game, because fans may have expected those results to be reversed when looking ahead at the schedule.

Let’s get to the individual performances in a vital road victory.

Starters

GK, Pedro Gallese, 8 — Thanks to the team in front of him, El Pulpo wasn’t called on that often to make big saves, but he did so when needed. Much like the Lions at home against Cincy, the Galaxy weren’t sharp in the final third. Credit some of that to the defense, of course. Gallese finished with three saves. One was a good one on a shot through traffic by Chicharito. He couldn’t control the rebound, but it luckily was a bit out of Kevin Cabral’s reach for the put-back. He did well on a smashed shot/cross at the near post by Efrain Alvarez in the second half, sacrificing a sensitive part of his body to smother a dangerous ball in that could have gone anywhere. It wasn’t the Octopus’ best passing game at just 53.6% (and just 8/20 on long balls) but it was often a case of “anywhere will do,” and you don’t take chances on the road — especially with Chicharito on the field.

D, Joao Moutinho, 6 — This wasn’t the Portuguese left back’s strongest game, but he was asked to do a lot, leading the team in touches (68 — 11 more than the next closest Lion, Cesar Araujo) and being tasked with watching Douglas Costa and Alvarez. He had a couple of bad giveaways that led to chances, and he was roasted by Alvarez on the play mentioned above. Moutinho was dispossessed twice and had three bad touches. I didn’t like the yellow card, which came on a ball he won cleanly and his opponent got there late and got himself clipped on the follow through when he wasn’t abnormally extended. Some of his missteps come down to volume due to being on the ball so often. That doesn’t excuse his lack of connectivity in the final third — on one occasion he was indecisive about getting to the end line and got his cross blocked out for a corner. Still, Joao had two tackles, an interception, two clearances, and a blocked shot. He had one dribble and passed at an 85% rate, but was just 1-for-4 on long balls and 0-for-2 on crosses.

D, Robin Jansson, 6.5 — The Beefy Swede had a workmanlike effort, helping keep Chicharito and Cabral quiet in front. It wasn’t a perfect game, with Jansson passing at just 82.6%, which was the lowest on the back line. He was 2/4 on long balls but didn’t realease those really killer line-breaking passes we’re used to seeing and he was conservative about jumping into the play, which was probably by design. He blocked three shots and had three clearances to go with his two interceptions. He had the fewest touches of the back line players with a quietly solid performance.

D, Antonio Carlos, 8.5 (MotM) — The Brazilian defender had a monster game as the most active member of Orlando’s back line. He led all players with 14 clearances, winning vital balls in the air on a huge number of LA set pieces throughout the match. AC chipped in two tackles, an interception, and a blocked shot. His 50 touches were fourth most on the team, behind Moutinho and the double-pivot players — Araujo and Sebas Mendez. He had a great passing rate of 89.3%, with a lot of pressure in his face, and completed five of his eight long balls. He also attempted one of Orlando’s six shots, although the corner kick cross was behind him so he was unable to put it anywhere near the target.

D, Ruan, 6 — One of these days, Ruan’s going to have a fantastic day crossing the ball and it will be glorious. That wasn’t Saturday. Two extremely wasteful crosses perhaps cost the Lions a chance to put the game away. One was way behind his teammates and the other was too far in front. The speedy Brazilian was accurate on one of his three crosses and two were just awful, including one directly at the keeper with Facundo Torres and Ercan Kara in the process of beating their defenders in the box. That said, his passing rate was good (90%) and he did have the secondary assist on Torres’ goal with the pass to Kara. He had one tackle and one clearance but struggled to keep Cabral quiet or close down Victor Vazquez at times, and he gave up a dangerous set piece, although the yellow card was overkill by the referee. He had no shots or key passes.

MF, Sebas Mendez, 7 — The Ecuadorian got his first start of the season and was active, but there was a little rust showing at times with regard to positioning above his own penalty area. He did his job defensively, finishing with two tackles, an interception, two clearances, and a block. He passed well, as usual, at an 89.2% rate, hitting on one of his two long balls but was unsuccessful on his lone cross. He and Araujo helped funnel most of the LA attack to the wings and it was a good match overall for Mendez.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 7.5 — The kid in the central midfield just keeps on delivering. Araujo was active on defense against a good group of attackers, with a team-high three tackles to go with two interceptions and a clearance. His passing rate of 93.9% led all Lions who had at least five attempts and he was on the ball more than any Orlando player except Moutinho. Six of his seven long balls were accurate and he had one key pass. He had an opportunity to score his first MLS goal on the counter but the shot was deflected away at the last second. Araujo received his third yellow card in four matches, taking one for the team. His tactical foul to break up a late LA rush can largely be blamed on substitute Benji Michel trying to take on Julian Araujo one-on-one, and losing that battle, rather than taking the ball to the corner to run some clock. This score could have been higher but there were a couple of times he was a tad late closing down that could have prevented some entry balls.

MF, Facundo Torres, 7.5 — The Young Designated Player is just starting to settle in and get comfortable and now he’ll leave for the international window. Torres opened his account with a no-doubt-about-it headed finish after putting himself into the perfect space for Kara’s cross. He had two of Orlando’s six shots and one of the club’s two shots on target. Torres passed at an 81.3% clip, and was accurate on one of his two crosses and two of his five long balls. He contributed a tackle, two interceptions, and a clearance on defense. He also won an aerial. His three unstable touches were a slight blemish on an otherwise great outing.

MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 6 — It was another mixed game for the captain. Although he did some things well, there is just a bit of inconsistency marring his game right now. He continues to have at least one dangerous giveaway in his own end that is seemingly preventable. His passing rate of 76.5% isn’t good enough, and he went just 1-of-5 on long balls. He was dispossessed once and had three bad touches. And his set piece delivery was once again not precise enough. However, there were good things too. He created two scoring chances (a shared team high), was 1/2 on crosses and 1/2 on through balls, won a tackle, and drew two fouls on the opposition.

MF, Junior Urso, 6.5 — The Bear continues to do the selfless things on the field to help the team, even if sometimes those aren’t rewarded, such as when he unlocked the LA defense with a beautiful through ball for Ruan, only to see his fellow Brazilian waste the chance with a poor cross. Playing as a false wing, Urso helped divert the LA attack to the wider areas but was his usual pesky self, winning three fouls. He chipped in two tackles and two interceptions. His 81.5% passing rate was good considering he was playing a little further up the pitch, and he created two scoring chances and was a perfect 4/4 on long ball accuracy. I knocked a tiny bit off his grade for not getting a shot attempt (considering his position) and for being dispossessed three times, but it was yet another solid match for Urso.

F, Ercan Kara, 7 — Despite being isolated much of the match due to the huge disadvantage Orlando had in possession, it was a quality game from the Turkish-Austrian Designated Player. His first MLS assist set up the game-winning goal with an inch-perfect cross to Torres. He won three aerials, created a scoring chance, had one of Orlando’s six shot attempts, and won two fouls. His 66.7% passing rate seems low but it was a small sample size with only nine attempts. He helped out defensively with a pair of clearances and did well to press LA’s central midfielders into playing up the wings.

Substitutes

D, Kyle Smith (68’), 6 — El Soldado (or “The Accountant,” if you prefer) came on for Ruan and even though he was tasked with being solid defensively, he still managed to get one of Orlando’s two shots on target, although it was right at the goalkeeper. His passing rate of 71.4% wasn’t much to write home about but he did complete one of his three long balls. He provided one tackle and a clearance and the Lions’ right side seemed a bit calmer defensively after he came on.

F, Benji Michel (68’), 5.5 — Michel came on to spell Kara, providing fresh legs for a potential late counter opportunity at an insurance goal. Despite being on the pitch for only 22 minutes and five more of injury time, he still had three poor touches, including the one that allowed LA to counter and created the need for Araujo to take a tactical foul to slow down the attack. He completed seven of his nine passes, won an aerial and had a defensive zone clearance. He didn’t manage a shot or a key pass.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel (79’), N/A — The Argentinian defender came on for Pereyra to get an extra defender on the field and he basically ate up space and kept the middle of Orlando’s defensive third congested, but there’s not much to grade him on. He had only one touch of the ball, registered no defensive stats and was unsuccessful on his lone pass attempt. The change of shape did allow Orlando to prevent any late danger from the Galaxy, though.

F/MF, Tesho Akindele (84’), N/A — The Canadian wasn’t on the field long enough in relief of Torres to fairly evaluate, but he did his job over the final six minutes of normal time and five minutes of stoppage time. He managed seven touches and completed all four of his pass attempts to help the Lions eat up the remaining time.


That’s how I saw the performances in an important Orlando City road victory. Let me know where you think I got it right or wrong in the comments section and vote for your Man of the Match in the poll below.

Polling Closed

PlayerVotes
Pedro Gallese6
Antonio Carlos53
Cesar Araujo2
Facundo Torres16
Other (Tell us 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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