Orlando City vs. Portland Timbers: Player Grades and Man of the Match
Orlando City has now completed its two-game West Coast swing and came out of it relatively nicely by grabbing four points total. Sunday’s game in Portland was seemingly there for the taking for the Lions after battling it close in the first half, getting the go ahead goal in the 52nd minute and the Timbers going down a man in the 71st minute. However, a converted penalty kick allowed Portland to steal an extra two points from the Lions.
These past two games have shown this group of Lions can handle the harsh circumstances of playing on the road. Four points after back-to-back weekends of traveling across the country is not a bad outcome. The Lions will now look to bring that momentum back to the friendly confines of Exploria Stadium for the next set of games.
Now to the individual performances of the road draw.
GK, Mason Stajduhar, 7 — Starting in place of Pedro Gallese, who is out on international duty, Stajduhar was able to keep his poise throughout most of the match. His back line, particularly center backs Robin Jansson and Antonio Carlos, did a great job limiting the amount of dangerous shots he faced. Stajduhar made a pair of clean saves and did well leaving his line to snuff out a few of Portland’s chances when he needed to. He wasn’t able to stop Cristhian Paredes’ penalty sent straight down the middle as he dove to his left. In the last moment of stoppage time, as the Timbers were making their last push to win, Stajduhar did well to get down quickly to block a shot from Sebastián Blanco placed low towards the bottom corner. The American goalkeeper had decent distribution, passing at a 70.6% success rate and completing five of his 10 long balls.
D, Joao Moutinho, 6 — The Portuguese left back once again led the team in touches (89) for the second straight game. Moutinho often pushed upfield to help out offensively to put crosses into the box and his lone shot went off target. Although only one of his five crosses was accurate, one was cleared right back to Orlando and helped set up the goal for the Lions. He was also accurate on seven of his 12 long balls and finished the game with 67 passes at an 86.6% success rate. Defensively, Moutinho had four total tackles, one interception, and one clearance. It wasn’t a bad game from the defender, but some of his turnovers forced him to scramble back into position. He could have made some better choices when passing to get the ball deeper in the final third, but nothing negatively impacted the team.
D, Robin Jansson, 7 — The Swede was once again a strong force in the middle and gave little time for the Timbers’ attackers to create much pressure. Jansson even had a moment taking the ball down the middle in the second half to start an attack and raced back down to get in position defensively when the ball was coming the other way. It was great to see him put in the effort on both sides of the pitch. We have come to expect this kind of hustle from the Beefy Swede and this match was no different. Jansson had 53 touches in the game, completed 92.1% of his 38 passes, and was accurate on two of his three long balls. His lone shot attempt was blocked. On the defensive end, he had four tackles, three clearances, two blocked shots, and one foul that resulted in a yellow card. In all, a solid performance for the defender, who became the Lions’ all-time leader in minutes played during the match.
D, Antonio Carlos, 7.5 — The Brazilian defender was the focal point of the defense, leading the team with seven clearances and five interceptions to stop Portland’s offense from gaining momentum. Carlos was busy throughout the match as he had 61 touches, won three aerial battles, and passed at a decent 84.4% success rate. He was only accurate on one of his three long balls, but it was another great outing by the Brazilian to keep trouble away from the net.
D, Ruan, 6 — The quick right back did what he does best for the team, getting up and down the wing with pace. He completed 83.3% of his 30 passes for the game and was successful on his only attempted cross, which resulted in a missed header by Benji Michel. The Brazilian had 46 touches, one tackle, and was accurate on just one of his four long balls.
MF, Cesar Araujo, 7 — The young Uruguayan midfielder stayed physical throughout the match to slow down and disrupt the Timbers from moving forward. Araujo led the Lions with five tackles, adding an interception and two clearances as well. He was fouled four times and committed two fouls of his own. The 20-year-old had 46 passes at an 87% success rate and three of his four long balls found their target. On the play that led to Orlando’s goal, it was Araujo who settled Portland’s attempted clearance to keep momentum. His lone shot was sent off target, but it was another great game from Araujo as he showed why he’s earned a starting spot on the squad.
MF, Junior Urso, 8 (MotM) — The Bear showed his claws once more by getting the opening goal of the match. He darted towards goal, getting in position for Alexandre Pato to find him open in front of the net. The first pass from Pato was aimed towards Ruan but it was blocked and Pato was able to quickly get it to Urso for him to slot it past Timbers goalkeeper Aljaz Ivacic. Urso led the team with three shots, putting two of them on target. He also had 70 touches, four tackles, one interception, and one clearance in a solid defensive performance. The Brazilian midfielder capped off his performance with 45 passes at an impressive 88.9% accuracy and completed three of his four long balls.
MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 6.5 — Pereyra had his game cut short when he was taken off the pitch in a stretcher in the 73rd minute. It is never a good sign to see one of your top players leave the game in that fashion, but we must hope for the best until he is evaluated. Up until that point, Pereyra had 56 touches and one shot that was easily saved by Ivacic. He was accurate on 82.5% of his 40 passes and had one key pass. Orlando’s captain was unsuccessful on his three attempted crosses but was accurate on all three of his long balls. The attacking midfielder’s presence was missed later on in the match when Orlando wanted to push for another goal to take all three points after Portland equalized. Pereyra may have changed the way the Lions attacked towards the end.
MF, Tesho Akindele, 6 — With Facundo Torres away on international duty for Uruguay, Akindele started on the right wing for the Lions. Akindele did well sprinting around his side of the pitch and put in a good effort playing a position he has occupied for Oscar Pareja before in Dallas. His only shot was a headed effort that went wide, and he also had one key pass. His only attempted cross officially missed its mark, but trickled tantalizingly in front of the goal, begging for a teammate to get to it. He did well winning three aerial duels to help Orlando gain possession. The Canadian also helped out defensively with four tackles The downside to his performance was an underwhelming 67.9% accuracy on 28 passes.
MF, Benji Michel, 6 — Michel’s play was not overly memorable, besides the scuffle he got into during extra time before a set piece which ultimately got him a yellow card for catching part of a Timbers player in the face with his hand. Early on however, Michel did take on defenders in the box to try setting himself up for a shot on goal or to place a ball in the middle, getting two key passes in the match. He had 46 touches, one shot that went off target, and a 76.7% passing accuracy on 30 passes. Michel didn’t attempt any crosses and was accurate on two of his three long balls. It was not for a lack of trying, but Michel could not get much out of his efforts.
F, Alexandre Pato, 7.5 — After not featuring in the last match, Pato got the start up top for the Lions and assisted on Urso’s goal with a perfectly paced ball right to his feet. The Brazilian star showed off some of his skill, especially in one sequence by shifting around some Portland defenders on his way up the pitch. Pato did well this match to play a little further down when needed to and distribute the ball around to his fellow Lions, which gave him an 83.3% passing accuracy on 36 passes and one key pass. On the play that caused Josecarlos Van Rankin to get a second yellow card, it was Pato who made a nice move on the counter that forced the Timbers defender to hold him back. The Brazilian forward ended the match with two shots, putting one on target, and was accurate on one of his three crosses and both of his long balls.
MF, Andres Perea (69’), 4.5 — Perea came off the bench and did not have the kind of fill-in work he, and many of us, were expecting him to have. In an unfortunate defensive play, Perea unnecessarily lunged out in an attempt to poke the ball off Paredes, who was cutting across the middle at the top of the box. There was no imminent danger from Paredes’ horizontal run, as Carlos had him lined up and other defenders were positioned between Paredes and the goal. After a delayed call, a penalty was awarded and Paredes converted it. Perea completed all five of his passes but had only eight touches during his time on the pitch.
D, Rodrigo Schlegel (73’), 6.5 — Schlegel came on for the injured Pereyra with a defensive mindset before the score became level. He did well overall to help the defense see out the match and secure at least a point after Portland scored. The Argentine blocked a shot and made two clearances to go along with 92.3% passing accuracy on 13 passes and 18 touches.
D, Kyle Smith (84’), N/A — The Accountant came on to shore up the defensive line with fresh legs to see out the match in the 84th minute to replace Ruan. He pushed forward at times to join the attack and had one key pass and won an aerial ball in limited time on the field. Smith concluded the match with 50% passing accuracy on six passes and had 12 touches. He completed one of his two crosses and his one long ball was successful.
F, Ercan Kara (84’), N/A — The Designated Player subbed on late to spark some late game magic and possibly score the game winner. That was not to be as he could not find much of a rhythm so late into the match and ended up with zero touches.
That’s how the performances of the Lions looked to me in the team’s draw on the road. Let me know your thoughts on the players’ performances in the comment section and vote for your Man of the Match in the poll below.
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Orlando City at New York Red Bulls: Three Keys to Victory
What does Orlando City need to do to earn all three points on the road at Red Bull Arena this Saturday night?
Orlando City is back on the road this Saturday with a match against the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ. The Lions have four results in the last four matches, but only one win. That needs to change if this team is going to be a serious contender once the playoffs come around.
Orlando City defeated the Red Bulls 1-0 to begin the 2023 MLS regular season at Exploria Stadium. Now the Lions have a chance to sweep the Eastern Conference rival in the regular season with another victory. What does Orlando City need to do to get all three points on the road this weekend?
Take Advantage of Tired Legs
The Red Bulls are coming off a midweek away match against Inter Miami, and a flight back to New Jersey. That means that new Red Bulls skipper Tony Lesesne won’t have as much time to game plan as Oscar Pareja will with a full week between matches. It also means that there may be some tired legs on the Red Bulls’ side of the pitch.
If Orlando City can get through the first half with either the lead, or at least even on the scoreboard, it will be tougher for New York in the second half, especially once the hour mark hits. Use possession and passing to make the Red Bulls run as much as possible and then hit them with the fresh legs of Duncan McGuire to finish them off.
Score First, Score Second
We saw what happens when Orlando City doesn’t find a way to get a second goal in the last match against Atlanta United. They don’t call them the Cardiac Cats for nothing. The Lions must get the early lead to make New York chase the match, but they also need to get a second goal before the Red Bulls can get their first.
If Orlando City can go up by two goals, it will be demoralizing for a team that is playing twice in four days, and will have the tired legs mentioned above. It will also give the Lions the mental confidence to potentially get a third goal, as the club did against Inter Miami. Finishing the chances and putting the match to bed early is a big key to victory.
Keep a Clean Sheet
The Red Bulls haven’t scored a ton of goals this season, nor do they have any player lighting things up on the offensive side of the ball. Orlando City hasn’t earned a clean sheet since the April 29 match against the LA Galaxy. The Red Bulls are the type of opponent that could help the Lions solve that dilemma.
Doing so will mean Pedro Gallese must continue being one of the best keepers in MLS. Many of the goals conceded this season are not on him — not all, but certainly many. Michael Halliday will still be with the USMNT U-20 squad this weekend and we might see Oscar Pareja employ three at the back in his absence. If so, it will be contingent upon whoever is lined up on the right to deal with John Tolkin when he presses up the pitch, which he will.
If the three center backs do their job, and if Cesar Araujo plays like he usually does, then the attack will likely come from the flanks. It is contingent upon the wingbacks to make sure they don’t neglect the defense, especially later in the match.
That is what I will be looking for this Saturday night as the Lions look for a fifth straight result. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Lion Links: 6/1/23
MLS All-Star voting is underway, midweek MLS results, Sevilla wins Europa League, and more.
Welcome to June, Mane Landers! I hope May treated you well as we get ready for another month filled to the brim with soccer. The Florida summer is heating up, so make sure to stay hydrated out there as we break out the beach umbrellas and dust off the grills. But for now, let’s jump into today’s links!
MLS All-Star Voting Begins
Voting is underway for the 26 players who will be selected for the MLS All-Star Team this summer. Of those 26 players, 12 will be chosen from a combined vote from fans, media, and current players. Orlando City defensive midfielder Cesar Araujo was noted as a candidate who could make this year’s team. Personally, I think goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, center back Robin Jansson, and forward Ercan Kara have a real shot at playing in the All-Star Game if they keep up their form. This year’s MLS All-Star Game will take place against Arsenal in the nation’s capital, with D.C. United Head Coach Wayne Rooney at the helm.
MLS Midweek Action Brings Plenty of Goals
The Lions weren’t in action for this midweek round of games, but there was still plenty of soccer to enjoy from the other MLS teams. Atlanta United and the New England Revolution battled to a 3-3 draw at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Carles Gil and Bobby Wood gave the Revs a 2-0 lead heading into halftime. Atlanta then scored three times in the second half, only for Gil to find an equalizer in stoppage time. It wasn’t the only high-scoring game of the evening either, as the Columbus Crew won 3-2 over the Colorado Rapids thanks to a goal and two assists from midfielder Lucas Zelarayan. Elsewhere in the Eastern Conference, FC Cincinnati beat New York City FC 3-1 and D.C. United and CF Montreal played to a 2-2 draw. Orlando City’s next opponents, the New York Red Bulls, won 1-0 at Inter Miami.
Sevilla Wins Seventh Europa League Title
It took a penalty shootout to decide the winner of this year’s Europa League final, with Sevilla beating AS Roma in Budapest. It was the Spanish club’s seventh time lifting the Europa League trophy. This win salvaged a rough La Liga season for Sevilla and it will play in the Champions League next year. Paulo Dybala gave Roma the lead in the first half, but an own goal levelled things in the 55th minute. Chris Smalling nearly gave Roma the win in extra time, but his header hit the crossbar. It was Jose Mourinho’s first defeat in six European finals and Roma will aim to qualify for the Europa League again when it takes on Spezia in its final Serie A game of the season on Sunday.
More Teams Claim Spots in U-20 World Cup Quarterfinals
Host Argentina was bounced from the U-20 World Cup after a 2-0 loss to Nigeria in the U-20 World Cup. After a scoreless first half, Nigeria struck twice and will face either Ecuador or South Korea in the next round. The other South American nations in action fared a bit better than Argentina, with Brazil cruising past Tunisia, 4-1, in a match that included three goals in stoppage time, and Colombia beating Slovakia, 5-1. In a clash between European sides, Italy won 2-1 over England after Cesare Casadei scored from the spot in the 87th minute. In the quarterfinals, the U.S. will face the winner of today’s match between Gambia and Uruguay.
- Orlando City B moved up a spot to seventh in the MLS NEXT Pro power rankings.
- Orlando City’s U-12 team is returning to Orlando with some new silverware.
- St. Louis City midfielder Eduard Löwen won MLS Goal of the Matchday for his free kick goal against the Vancouver Whitecaps.
- Lesle Gallimore was named as OL Reign’s next general manager after serving as commissioner of the club’s girls academy since 2020.
- Rumors are swirling that Inter Miami and FC Barcelona will join forces to sign Lionel Messi, with Miami signing him as a free agent and then loaning him to Barcelona.
- Arsenal forward Beth Mead will not play for England in this summer’s Women’s World Cup as she continues to recover from her ACL injury.
- American coach Jesse Marsch, who was dismissed from Leeds United earlier this year, has been linked with a move to AS Monaco in Ligue 1.
- Dundee United announced that American midfielder Ian Harkes is one of six players who will leave the club after it was relegated. Harkes has played for the Scottish club since 2019, joining from D.C. United.
- The Soccer Tournament kicks off today and you can check out the full slate of games.
That’s all I have for today. I hope you all have a wonderful start to June!
Lion Links: 5/31/23
Nani will return to Exploria Stadium for celebrity match, Amanda Allen scores again for Canada, U-20 USMNT defeats New Zealand, and more.
Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you down in Florida. There’s not much new with me up here in Chicago. Now that high school sports have finished up for the school year, I’ll be busy this summer working at Wrigley Field. There is plenty to get to today, so let’s get to the links.
Nani Will Return to Exploria Stadium for Celebrity Match
Former Lion captain Nani will return to Exploria Stadium on June 23 to participate in the celebrity soccer match called The Beautiful Game. The 36-year-old expressed his thoughts on his return to Orlando and taking part in this match next month.
“For me it is an honor to be back in Orlando and be with the fans one more time,” said Nani. “I can’t wait to see my friends from the club, The Wall and all Orlando City supporters again. I’m thankful for this opportunity to play one more time with Roberto Carlos, Ronaldinho, and so many legends.”
Nani played three seasons for the Lions, recording 28 goals and 23 assists in 77 appearances for the club. The match will feature icons such as Ronaldinho, Roberto Carlos, Carlos Valderrama, Javier Mascherano, and Rivaldo as well. The match will also have halftime entertainment, and more additions to the rosters set to be announced at a later date.
Amanda Allen Scores Again in Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship
Orlando Pride forward Amanda Allen made the starting lineup again for Canada in the 2023 Concacaf Women’s U-20 Championship in the Dominican Republic. In Canada’s final group stage match against the U.S., Allen converted a penalty kick for Canada’s first goal in what finished as a 5-2 loss for her side.
It was Allen’s second goal of the tournament, but she was injured in this match as well. Canada finishes second in the group, with the U.S. on top. On Friday, the U.S. will play Costa Rica and Canada will face Mexico in the semifinals.
U-20 USMNT Advances to World Cup Quarterfinals
Orlando City defender Michael Halliday came on as a substitute in the 71st minute for the U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team in its U-20 World Cup match against New Zealand. The U.S. shut out New Zealand 4-0 to advance to the quarterfinals in Argentina. That victory gives the U.S. its fourth-consecutive shutout in the tournament. Austin FC midfielder Owen Wolff, San Jose Earthquakes forward Cade Cowell, FC Dallas defender Justin Che, and Hajduk Split midfielder Rokas Pukstas all scored for the Americans. In the quarterfinals on Sunday, the U.S. will face the winner of tomorrow’s match between Gambia and Uruguay.
Interim Head Coach Anthony Hudson Leaves USMNT
The U.S. Soccer Federation announced that Anthony Hudson is leaving his role as the USMNT’s interim head coach to pursue a new opportunity. Hudson is reportedly set to take a head coaching role with a club in the Middle East. He was the head coach of the U.S. U-20 team in 2020 and had been an assistant under Gregg Berhalter for the USMN before being named interim head coach in January. Hudson will be replaced by B.J. Callaghan, who will be the interim head coach for the USMNT for the Concacaf Nations League and Gold Cup competitions this summer. Callaghan has been an assistant coach with the USMNT over the last four years and was previously an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Union.
USMNT Will Host Ghana and Germany for October Friendlies
The USMNT will play two international friendlies in October against Germany and Ghana. The U.S. will take on four-time World Cup Champion Germany on Oct. 14 in East Hartford, CT. The last time the USMNT played Germany was in 2015, with the Yanks winning 2-1. On Oct. 17, the USMNT will face Ghana in Nashville. The Black Stars will look to get their first win on American soil against the Stars and Stripes. Ghana eliminated the Americans in the World Cup in 2006 and 2010, but the U.S. defeated Ghana in the group stage at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The last time these two sides met was in 2017, when the USMNT edged Ghana, 2-1.
- The latest MLS Power rankings were released. The Lions moved down one spot to 15th after their 1-1 draw against Atlanta United.
- The LA Galaxy parted ways with President Chris Klein. Head Coach and Sporting Director Greg Vanney will remain with the club. The Galaxy have missed the playoffs in four of the last six seasons.
- Former Netherlands forward Quincy Promes will be prosecuted for his involvement in drug trafficking. Promes is accused of allegedly smuggling 1,360 kilos of cocaine in 2020.
- Juventus is reportedly emerging as the leader in the race to acquire Christian Pulisic on a transfer from Chelsea. Pulisic has one-year remaining on his contract with the English Premier League side.
- Forbes.com’s James Nalton shared his insights on five potential USMNT players to watch during the U-20 World Cup .
- An arrest warrant has reportedly been issued in Brazil for LA Galaxy midfielder Douglas Costa for unpaid child support.
- Is it just me or did The Athletic forget to mention our beloved Lions’ U.S. Open Cup run last year?
That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Wednesday and I’ll see you next time.
Orlando City at New York Red Bulls: Three Keys to Victory
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