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Orlando City

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



Well, I don’t think that went the way any of us were hoping it would. Orlando City had an excellent first half but a lapse of concentration and house of horrors error saw the Lions fighting an uphill battle all night long. The question now is, how did the men in purple grade individually in Orlando City’s 4-2 home loss to LAFC?

Let’s have a look at my player grades and Man of the Match from a night to forget for the good guys.


GK, Pedro Gallese, 5 — It was a pretty quiet game from El Pulpo. Gallese passed at a 100% rate on his 13 attempts, which was good, but he was unable to do anything about any of the four LAFC goals, finishing with zero saves on LAFC’s four shots on target. The first two he was completely helpless on, and he might have gotten a bit stranded at his near post on Brian Rodriguez’s opener for the visitors, but it’s hard to be too picky considering the defensive breakdowns in other areas. He’ll have wished he did better on Ilie Sanchez’s go-ahead goal, since it went in fairly close to him, but he didn’t see it until late as it came through a mass of bodies. Overall, a tough night for Orlando City’s netminder.

D, Joao Moutinho, 7 — This was probably one of Moutinho’s better games of recent memory. He was menacing going forward and popped up in the attack often, usually to good effect. He completed a dribble, passed at a 77% rate, made two tackles, three interceptions, a clearance, a blocked shot, and won an aerial duel. His 92 touches led the team and he also did very well to move into unoccupied space at the back post and blast his shot low into the far corner for his goal. He loses points for failing to track Rodriguez into the box on the opening goal, but it was a mostly good night for him. He led the team in shots (4) and tied for the team’s most shots on target (2), creating one scoring chance.

D, Antonio Carlos, N/A — It was not good to see Carlos go down after only 15 minutes, and even worse to see him need a stretcher to be taken off the field. Hopefully the injury is nothing more than a nasty hyperextension but only time will tell. The Brazilian was playing pretty well up until he went down, and it might not be an accident that Orlando shipped an unusually high amount of goals in a game played mostly without him. Before going off, Carlos completed all 11 of his pass attempts.

D, Robin Jansson, 6 — It was a mixed bag from Jansson. He did some really good things like winning two aerial duels and recording one tackle, two interceptions, and a clearance, passing at a 91% clip, and getting forward into the attack a couple times. Nine of his 11 long balls were accurate. Unfortunately, he and Moutinho failed to communicate in time to track Rodriguez on the first goal. It wasn’t a bad game from the Swede, but it wasn’t his best either.

D, Ruan, 5 — The good things Ruan did were recording a tackle, an interception, and a clearance, and completing a dribble. The bad is the hesitation on Carlos Vela’s ball that led to the first goal and the monstrously ill-advised back pass that gifted LAFC its second goal. He seemed to be trying to head it back for Gallese to collect, but he was in traffic and it was horribly misjudged, and the visitors couldn’t have asked for anything easier. That he was subbed out in favor of Kyle Smith while Orlando City was chasing the game was likely half due to tired legs and half due to a performance that he’ll want to put in the rearview mirror.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 6 — At 89%, Araujo passed the ball well, creating two scoring chances and completing two of his four long balls, and defensively he also made two tackles. He picked up a completely needless fourth yellow card of the season for getting in Francisco Ginella’s face after he was deemed to have fouled his fellow Uruguayan, and he took umbrage with the decision. The youngster also had a couple of bad giveaways in the midfield on a night where LAFC looked dangerous on the counter to begin with.

MF, Junior Urso, 5.5 — This score maybe feels a little harsh, but the Bear’s influence on proceedings faded badly after halftime. He recorded a tackle and an interception and passed at 89% on the night. He also attempted one shot that didn’t hit the target and drew five opposition fouls, but his second half display contrasted badly with what he was able to do in the first period. Like the rest of Orlando City, he wasn’t able to get involved offensively as much during the second 45 minutes, and he also struggled to slow LAFC in transition moments.

MF, Facundo Torres, 6.5 — Torres looked lively out there, and was unlucky to not get an assist on an absolutely beautiful run of first-half play. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to hold or curl his run long enough to beat the offside trap. Still, he led the Lions with three successful dribbles, had one tackle and one interception, created two scoring chances, completed one of his two long balls, and passed at an 87% rate. He drew three fouls on LAFC with his quick movement, and all three could have been yellow cards. He looks more and more comfortable every week.

MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 7 — Pererya’s pass over the top to Ercan Kara for Orlando’s opening goal was perfection. The vision to see it, the weight and accuracy to put the ball exactly where it needed to be…chef’s kiss. He then did just as well to pick out Moutinho and deliver the ball to him for Orlando’s second goal, and he had a hugely influential first half. Like most everyone else, his second half was less effective but he still finished with four chances created, one dribble, two tackles, and two assists (one primary, one secondary). He was accurate on four of six long balls. The biggest knock on his performance is that he struggled to connect with teammates in the attacking half after halftime.

MF, Alexandre Pato, 7.5 (MotM) — Man, Pato is just different gravy. He looked dangerous from the moment the ball was kicked. He combined well with Torres and Kara on the goal that was chalked out for offside and he continues to see passing lanes and runs that no one else on the field does. His volleyed goal was supremely difficult to pull off, yet he made it look easy. He waited for the ball to drop, kept his knee over it without leaning back, and fired it low into the corner where Maxime Crepeau couldn’t reach it. He was heavily involved aside from his goal with two successful dribbles, two chances created, a tackle, and he even won an aerial duel. He maybe could have done better with a late header that he didn’t place far enough away from Crepeau late, and his passing rate of 53.9% needs to be better, but he was still the Lions’ best performer on the night.

F, Ercan Kara, 7 — It was a good night from Kara. He’s still yet to open his scoring account but his awareness to head the ball back across goal for Pato to volley home — for his second MLS assist — was excellent and the quality of the header itself was also top notch. His dummy for the offside goal was very clever, and he too looks to be meshing better in the attack with every passing game. He was unlucky not to grab a late equalizer for the Lions but he couldn’t generate enough power on a well-placed header and was unable to get it past Crepeau. He had the second-most shots on the team, with three (one on frame), created a scoring chance, and it feels like a matter of time before he gets off the mark. He chipped in a pair of defensive clearances as well.


D, Rodrigo Schlegel (18’), 5.5 — Schlegel had a difficult task on the night, as he came in completely cold for the injured Carlos and was asked to deal with the high octane LAFC attack. For the most part, he did well. The Argentine led the team in tackles with three, won one aerial duel, recorded two interceptions, two clearances, and a block, and passed at a 95% rate. However, he got caught well up the pitch on the first LAFC goal and he could maybe have smacked the ball clear before Sanchez scored, but he didn’t, and then got picked by an LAFC player and was unable to fight through and get his body in the way. All in all, it was a typical hard-working shift from him but one he’ll want to improve upon.

D, Kyle Smith (72’) 6 — Smith had an interception, a tackle, and won an aerial duel in a little over 15 minutes on the field. Overall, he didn’t impact the game much and he wasn’t able to add anything offensively, but the numbers back up that he was his usual solid self defensively.

F, Benji Michel (72’) 6 — Benji provided a bit more verticality to the Orlando attack after coming on, and was given long balls to run onto several times. He had a decent chance to shoot or pass on the left side of the goal shortly after coming on but a heavy touch meant that Orlando had to settle for a corner. He whistled a shot very close to the far post and made an absolutely lung-busting recovery run to make a slide tackle and prevent a chance for LAFC on the counter.

F, Tesho Akindele (83’) N/A — In a brief cameo, Tesho didn’t have a ton of influence on the game with only three touches of the ball. He did win an aerial duel and pressed hard from the front as usual.

F, Silvester van der Water (83’) N/A — Van der Water had 10 touches in his brief time on the field and his deflected cross very nearly resulted in a goal for Alexandre Pato.

That’s how we saw the individual performances in this one. Feel free to share your opinions down in the comments, and make sure to vote for the Man of the Match in the poll below.

Polling Closed

Player Votes
Joao Moutinho 12
Mauricio Pereyra 4
Ercan Kara 1
Alexandre Pato 39
Other (Shout them out in the comments) 0

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. San Jose Earthquakes: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More

Orlando City completes its three-matches-in-eight-days marathon with a cross-country trip to San Jose.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Welcome to your match thread for a late Saturday night matchup between Orlando City SC (3-5-4, 13 points) and the San Jose Earthquakes (3-9-1, 10 points). This is the only meeting between the teams in 2024 and the first time the teams have met since 2021.

Here’s what you need to know ahead of tonight’s match.


Orlando City is 2-1-3 in the previous six MLS meetings with the Quakes since the club joined Major League Soccer in 2015. The Lions have yet to win an away game in the series, however, going 0-1-2 on the road against San Jose.

The most recent meeting took place on June 22, 2021, with the Lions beating the Quakes down, 5-0. Orlando got things started with an early penalty kick goal by Nani, followed by braces from Benji Michel and Daryl Dike to easily put the game away. The lasting memory from the game is Michel’s celebratory dance wearing a cowboy hat that came out of the stands.

Prior to that Orlando City romp, the last time the teams met was on Aug. 31, 2019 when the Lions got freight trained 3-0 at Avaya Stadium, giving the Quakes their first win in the series. San Jose’s offense came via a Chris Wondolowski brace and an early opening goal by Magnus Eriksson. Orlando looked flat and weary out of the gate.

The Lions were victorious in Exploria Stadium in the 2018 meeting on April 21, a 3-2 Orlando win. It was the first win in the series for either side after three straight draws. Chris Mueller, Sacha Kljestan, and Dom Dwyer gave the Lions a 3-0 lead before Florian Jungwirth pulled two back in the game’s late stages.

The Lions led all of the first three matches in the second half only to see San Jose pull level, with two of those tying goals coming late. In the 2017 meeting, Carlos Rivas finally broke the scoreless tie and gave Orlando City the lead in the 81st minute, but Wondolowski spoiled the Lions’ night with an equalizer two minutes later as the teams drew at Avaya Stadium, 1-1.

In 2016, the Lions were gut-punched in the 94th minute in an emotional match that ended in a 2-2 draw. It was the first home match following the Pulse nightclub tragedy and what appeared to be a storybook ending to a cathartic win turned sour on a last-gasp equalizer by Shea Salinas. Seb Hines — now in his second full season as the Orlando Pride’s head coach — opened the scoring for Orlando, only to see Chad Barrett tie it up. Julio Baptista restored the lead in stoppage time, but Salinas ruined everything.

The two teams also drew in the first meeting, a 1-1 affair at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, with the Lions down to 10 men after Brek Shea was sent off in the first half. Kaká and Wondolowski each scored from the penalty spot four minutes apart in that initial meeting.


Orlando City is unbeaten in its last two games following a 0-0 home draw against Inter Miami Wednesday night. The Lions and Herons looked shattered in the second half of that game, and neither side would give an inch defensively. On the first clear looks at goal the teams had, both goalkeepers were outstanding, keeping the game scoreless. Orlando looks to earn points for the third straight match, but the team didn’t get to rotate much in the last week due to injuries, and things may not be back to normal just yet.

San Jose is in the Western Conference cellar with just three wins and 10 points from 13 matches. Still, the Earthquakes can score. San Jose has put the ball in the net 22 times this season. Only three Western Conference teams and five clubs in all of MLS have scored more. San Jose’s big problem has been shipping goals. The Quakes have conceded 32 times in 2024, which is dead last in Major League Soccer. The closest team to giving up that many is Portland, which has yielded 27 goals and just beat San Jose 4-2 on Wednesday night. That game was wild, with a horrible penalty throwing the Timbers a lifeline while they trailed 2-0 late. The bad call also resulted in the sending off of defender Bruno Wilson, though he will be eligible for this match after his one-game suspension was rescinded by the Independent Review Panel. Portland not only scored the penalty, but roared back to win 4-2 in a crazy game that included a second penalty on the Quakes later in the match.

Former FC Dallas coach Luchi Gonzalez is in his second season at the helm in San Jose. His team features a standout forward in Cristian Espinoza, who has two goals and a team-leading eight assists on the year. That gives him a direct goal contribution on nearly half of San Jose’s 22 goals in 2024. He’ll be the man Orlando must stop from scoring or setting up others, but the Quakes still have Jeremy Ebobisse (three goals), as well as a new No. 9, Amahl Pelligrino, who leads the Quakes with four goals on the year.

The Lions will need to avoid getting in a shootout with the Earthquakes, try to conserve energy, and play tight defense like they did on Wednesday.

“A really short period to prepare the game, but it’s the way that it is,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said about tonight’s game. “We’re traveling to the west coast, we had a very good flight, the boys look very fresh, and today we will train in the evening to keep our preparation and to keep recovering the team. So basically, that has been the routine so far and we’re just trying to get in and use this momentum to keep adding points.” 

The Lions will play this west coast game without Ramiro Enrique (right ankle), Mikey Halliday (right knee), Robin Jansson (right ankle), and Tahir Reid-Brown (left thigh). Cesar Araujo is also out tonight due to yellow card accumulation. The Earthquakes have three injuries heading into this game, with Daniel Britto (lower body), JT Marcinkowski (knee), and Jamar Ricketts (lower body) listed as out.

Match Content

Projected Lineups:

Orlando City (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.

Defenders: Rafael Santos, Rodrigo Schlegel, David Brekalo, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson.

Defensive Midfielders: Wilder Cartagena, Nico Lodeiro.

Attacking Midfielders: Ivan Angulo, Martin Ojeda, Facundo Torres.

Forwards: Duncan McGuire.

San Jose Earthquakes (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: William Yarbrough.

Defenders: Vitor Costa, Tanner Beason, Rodrigues, Carlos Akapo.

Defensive Midfielders: Niko Tsakiris, Carlos Gruezo.

Attacking Midfielder: Amahl Pelligrino, Hernan Lopez, Cristian Espinoza.

Forwards: Jeremy Ebobisse.


REF: Malik Badawi.
AR1: Ryan Graves.
AR2: Adam Garner.
4TH: Brandon Stevis.
VAR: Kevin Stott.
AVAR: Mike Kampmeinert.

How to Watch

Match Time: 10:30 p.m.

Venue: PayPal Park — San Jose, CA.

TV/Live Stream: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+

Radio: FM 96.9 The Game (English), Mega 97.1 FM (Spanish).

Twitter: For rapid reaction and live updates, follow along at @TheManeLand, as well as Orlando City’s official Twitter feed (@OrlandoCitySC).

Enjoy the match. Go City!

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Examining Orlando City’s 3-5-2

Let’s talk about Orlando City’s three-center-back formations, and try to determine if they should be the new norm.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

In the last two Orlando City matches against the Philadelphia Union and Inter Miami, Oscar Pareja has deployed his team in 3-5-2, and 3-4-1-2 formations, respectively. While Papi typically prefers to set his team up in a 4-2-3-1, injuries to fullbacks Rafael Santos, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, and Mikey Halliday have necessitated some creative problem solving. The two uses of the 3-5-2 and its slightly tweaked variant have been met with success, as the Lions have taken four points from their last two games and, as a result, there’s been some calls online for the team to persist with the formation. With that being the case, let’s do some digging into how the formation has served OCSC, and try to determine if it’s a viable option going forward.

A big thing to note with Orlando’s use of a three-man back line is the presence of Wilder Cartagena as the middle center back. It isn’t his natural position, but Rodrigo Schlegel’s suspension for the Union game meant that Pareja needed to conjure another center back from somewhere, and he elected to shift Cartagena into the back line rather than use Kyle Smith or one of Abdi Salim or Thomas Williams.

Against Philly, a normal 3-5-2 was used, with Pedro Gallese in goal, David Brekalo, Cartagena, and Robin Jansson in the back line, Ivan Angulo and Facundo Torres as wingbacks, Nico Lodeiro, Cesar Araujo, and Martin Ojeda in the midfield, and Luis Muriel and Duncan McGuire up top. The only tweaks against Miami were Schlegel replacing the injured Jansson and Ojeda pushing up to sit behind the two strikers in a 3-4-1-2 formation.

In the Union game, Orlando did a great job at pushing numbers forward quickly when it won the ball, and all three of its goals came in situations where the attack was pressed quickly when the Lions won possession. The Lions took 13 shots, with eight of them from inside the box, and totaled 1.25 expected goals (xG). The team’s best chances of the night came with McGuire’s headed opener and Muriel’s second goal, as both came from inside the box and both were converted. Against Miami, the Lions took 14 shots, with seven from inside the box, and totaled .69 xG. OCSC’s best chance came from Martin Ojeda’s 32nd-minute shot from inside the box, which was well saved by Drake Callender.

In essence, Orlando created more chances against the Union, and was more clinical about finishing those chances. However, the difference in attacking output wasn’t drastic, and we might be able to put it down to Miami being a better team than Philly and the Lions playing the Herons on short rest.

Against Philly, OCSC had a rough outing defensively. While one of the Union goals came from a penalty kick, the home team took a whopping 29 shots during the game with all but eight from outside the box, for a total of 3.85 xG. Against Miami, the Herons took seven shots with six inside the box for a total of .60 xG. Aside from Gallese stonewalling Luis Suarez just minutes into the game in a 1-v-1 chance, the defense largely did a good job of limiting chances.

Even accounting for two penalty kick attempts inflating Philadelphia’s expected goals, the Lions did a far better job at limiting dangerous chances against Miami. That could be due to the team being more comfortable with the defensive setup after using it for a game or a more cautious approach by Oscar Pareja due to Miami’s considerable firepower, even without the injured Lionel Messi.

The numbers and the eye test say that there’s enough reason to consider continuing to use the formation going forward. The Lions have shown that they can create chances and score goals, and they’ve shown that they can have a solid defensive outing, although it would be nice to demonstrate both characteristics in the same game. That, my friends, is where things start to get tricky, because persisting with the 3-5-2 or a variation of it isn’t as simple as obeying what the numbers say.

Let’s talk about Orlando’s personnel. Thorhallsson and Santos both seem to be working their way back from injury, and once healthy they could theoretically slot in at the two wingback positions, which should help Orlando avoid the defensive mess we saw against the Union. That means we need to figure out what to do with Torres and Angulo. Despite his slow start to the season, Torres is a guy you have to have on the field, and in order to do that, I propose slotting him into Ojeda’s spot in the 3-4-1-2. The problem there is that he hasn’t looked super comfortable when operating as a central playmaker, but this could be resolved by instructing Muriel to drop off McGuire and play a little deeper, and giving Facu free reign to roam into the wide areas where he’s more comfortable.

Assuming Jansson will be missing for a few more games, I think you keep Cartagena at center back, considering how well he’s played there. Ojeda and Angulo come off the bench as impact subs, and you can rotate Ojeda into Lodeiro’s spot in the midfield as necessary to protect the Uruguayan’s legs. Once Jansson is back, he can slot in as the third center back, and Cartagena can move into the midfield, with Nico likely being the man sacrificed in games where Pareja wants more defensive stability, or Cartagena/Araujo dropping to the bench if Papi wants to go in guns blazing. I don’t particularly love that option though, as you generally want your best players on the field, and I have a hard time justifying breaking up the Araujo-Cartagena partnership that’s seen so much success.

The immediate problem with any three-center-back formation is Araujo’s yellow card suspension, which will mean he’s unavailable for Saturday’s game against San Jose. Theoretically, Cartagena could move up the field to take his place and Smith could slot in for the Peruvian, or Felipe could start in Araujo’s place, but if Santos and Thorhallsson are fit enough to start, I think we’ll see the return of a four-man back line. Otherwise, the same lineup would be starting its third game in eight days, and on a West Coast trip to boot. That seems like a recipe for disaster, so while I think there’s a way to trot out a 3-5-2/3-4-1-2, I don’t think we’ll see it on Saturday.

In short, the two formations have shown enough promise for them to merit some more looks, while bearing in mind that we’ve only seen a small sample size. The biggest challenge with continued use comes when Orlando has a clean bill of health and you try to figure out how to get as many of your best players on the field as you can. At that point it becomes a question of whether one of the new formations maximizes this team’s strengths, or if the best course of action is to revert to a 4-2-3-1 and keep the 3-5-2 in the back pocket for when its needed.

Either way, the strategy is going to be something interesting to keep an eye on going forward.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/17/24

MLSPA releases player salaries, Duncan McGuire discusses move to Blackburn, Orlando Pride prepare for the Seattle Reign, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Happy Friday! The weekend is nearly here, with plenty of soccer both here in the domestic leagues and abroad. I have a pretty packed weekend but am looking forward to watching Orlando City and the Orlando Pride in action. It should be a nice next few days, so let’s get it started with today’s links!

MLSPA Releases Player Salaries

The Major League Soccer Players Association unveiled the base salary and guaranteed compensation information for every player under contract with the league as of April 25 — except Wilder Cartagena, apparently. Luis Muriel is the highest-paid Orlando City player, and his $4.3 million in guaranteed compensation is the 12th most in the league, while his base salary is just over $2.83. As for other Orlando newcomers, Nico Lodeiro’s compensation is $800,000 and David Brekalo’s is $683,000.

Lionel Messi predictably tops the list of all players with $20.4 million guaranteed for playing with Inter Miami. To put that number into perspective, it’s more than the compensation of every team in the league except his own team (Miami), Toronto FC, Nashville SC, and the Chicago Fire. Orlando City is 22nd in the league in compensation, clocking in at $15.07 million.

Duncan McGuire Weighs In on Moving to Blackburn

Orlando City forward Duncan McGuire had a hurricane of an off-season due to a transfer saga that nearly saw him join Blackburn Rovers in England. An administration error by Blackburn prevented the move from going through, and McGuire ultimately returned to Orlando. In the time since, there have been reports that Orlando offered him a new contract and that Blackburn still wants him to join in the summer. McGuire spoke about whether he is still interested in a move to Blackburn after the difficult experience.

“It’s tough to say,” McGuire told GOAL.”That was a pretty bad mistake, a pretty bad mistake by them. I’d be open to maybe having a conversation but it would have to be a lot to get me to go back there. On the plane ride back, I just felt like my tail was between my legs. I asked my agent how often this happens and he was like ‘This doesn’t happen’.

“I didn’t burn bridges with my teammates or have it be like ‘Oh you wanted to leave and now you’re back’. When I got back, it was like I never left.”

Orlando Pride Prepare for the Seattle Reign

The Orlando Pride will take their six-game win streak on the road for a match against the Seattle Reign Sunday night. The Reign are coming off of a 4-0 loss to the Portland Thorns in their sixth defeat of the season, but Pride Head Coach Seb Hines discussed how the Reign played better in that match than the score suggests. The Pride have also never won in Washington, and the turf and atmosphere of Lumen Field could give Orlando some trouble after a long trip. Injuries, particularly to the midfield, have made things difficult for the Pride, but midfielder Morgan Gautrat detailed how the team’s chemistry has helped them get results despite the adversity.

Nashville SC Fires Gary Smith

Nashville SC has parted ways with Gary Smith, who had been the club’s only head coach while in MLS. Smith joined Nashville back in 2018, coaching the team for two seasons in the USL Championship before. With a defensive style, Smith led the team to MLS playoff appearances in all four years but couldn’t put together a deep run. Nashville is currently 10th in the Eastern Conference and Rumba Munthali will serve as the club’s interim head coach while the club searches for a new permanent coach.

Charlotte FC Transfers Enzo Copetti Out

Another Designated Player is leaving Charlotte FC, as the club transferred Enzo Copetti to Rosario Central in Argentina’s top flight. The forward recorded eight goals and three assists across all competitions while with Charlotte, and has played less than 500 minutes this season. Copetti is the latest Designated Player transferred out since Dean Smith took over as Charlotte’s head coach, with Kamil Jozwiak sent to Granada and Karol Swiderski loaned to Hellas Verona. Despite the turnover, Charlotte sits fifth in the Eastern Conference and could make some noise this season if it brings in the right players in the summer transfer window.

Free Kicks

  • Former Lion Miguel Gallardo spoke with the folks over at The Blazing Musket about the New England Revolution and the art of goalkeeping.
  • Our condolences go out to the friends and family of Derek Sanderson, who played for many teams across many leagues back in the 1980s, including the American Soccer League’s Orlando Lions.

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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