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Orlando City

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



Orlando City won 1-0 against the Chicago Fire, with Ercan Kara scoring his first goal for the Lions. Brian Gutierrez received two yellow cards in the first half and the Fire had to play the entire second half with just 10 men. Orlando had multiple opportunities to score, but ended up putting just one in the back of the net and it was enough for all three points against an Eastern Conference foe.

Here’s how I saw the individual performances of each Lion on the pitch.


GK, Pedro Gallese, 6 — It was a quiet day for Gallese as the Fire only put two shots on target and played with 10 men for the entire second half. He saved both shots, the tougher of the two being a low effort from Gutierrez that Gallese did well to parry out for a corner. He only had 15 passes in the match, completing 93% of them, and his only attempted long ball was inaccurate. It was his fourth clean sheet of the season and he now leads the league alongside Fire goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina.

D, Joao Moutinho, 6.5 — Moutinho’s strong start to the season continued in this match as he led the team with six tackles to snuff out Chicago’s chances on his side of the field. The left back was accurate on just one of his five crosses but completed both of his long balls as he contended with a stingy Chicago defense that was comfortable pinning numbers back to defend. Moutinho was accurate on 90% of his 59 passes and recorded a key pass as well. His only shot of the game was a great attempt from distance that went just over the bar. He’s still hunting for his first assist of the season, but it was another good performance on both sides of the ball from the 24-year-old defender.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 6 — Starting in place of the injured Antonio Carlos, Schlegel did well with two tackles, two clearances, and two interceptions. The Argentine center back also had a terrific day in terms of passing, as he was successful on 93% of his 60 passes and was accurate on all three of his attempted long balls. Schlegel had one shot in the match, sending a header wide of goal after a nice pass from Pato. While it’s worth noting Chicago’s offense lacked Xherdan Shaqiri and played half the game with 10 men, Schlegel played his part to keep Kacper Przybylko and the Fire quiet. With stronger offenses on the horizon, this was a nice game for Schlegel to settle in as a starter and help the team get a clean sheet.

D, Robin Jansson, 6 — The Beefy Swede led the Lions with four clearances and also did well to block a shot early in the match. Jansson came up big when Orlando needed him to, but that wasn’t all too often, considering how the game played out. He didn’t have a shot or a key pass and didn’t make much of an impact on Orlando’s set pieces, but he was an anchor along Orlando’s back line. Jansson had 55 passes at a decent 85% success rate and was inaccurate on his one attempted long ball. He picked up a yellow card in the second half, but it was a solid outing overall for the center back.

D, Ruan, 6 — His speed was useful against Chicago’s defensive pressure, allowing teammates to safely send the ball into space for him to chase down. Ruan completed just one of his four crosses, but he was accurate on all but one of his 31 passes for a great 97% success rate as he worked well with Pato. The right back finished the game with a key pass and a shot that was on target but easily saved by Slonina. He added a tackle on the defensive side of things and was subbed off in the 74th minute.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 6 — The 21-year-old started his seventh game of the season and continued to give Orlando some stability in its midfield. He completed 25 of his 27 passes for a strong 93% success rate and helped out on defense with a tackle. Offensively, he had a key pass and his lone shot was on target, although it didn’t cause any trouble at all for Slonina. He won four fouls, including the one that earned Gutierrez his second yellow card, and was swapped for Junior Urso at halftime to give Orlando some more firepower.

MF, Sebas Mendez, 6.5 — In his second start of the season, Mendez gave the kind of performance we’ve grown to expect from him since joining Orlando. The Ecuadorian led the Lions with 114 touches and completed 100 of his 105 passes for a great 95% success rate. Defensively, he added a tackle, an interception, a clearance, and two blocked shots. He didn’t take a shot, but did make two key passes to help on offense and was accurate on three of his four long balls. With Carlos injured, we may see more games like this from Mendez to add some bite defensively while facilitating the team’s passing.

MF, Facundo Torres, 6.5 — Torres won a foul in the attacking half and then whipped in a cross from the resulting free kick that found Pato open near the back post for him to set up Kara for the game’s only goal. He also set up a shot for Pato that was saved and contributed two shots of his own — one off target and the other blocked. Torres was accurate on one of his two crosses and two of his three long balls and had 35 passes at an 83% success rate. He also chipped in defensively with three tackles. Chicago’s defense was smothering at times though, as he had three unstable touches and was successful on just one of his five attempted dribbles before being substituted out in the 74th minute.

MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 7 — Orlando City’s captain did well pulling the strings on offense, leading the team with six key passes, with five of those coming in the first half while the Fire still had all 11 men. He’s becoming more and more familiar with the new offensive weapons at his disposal, particularly Kara, as he found the striker in dangerous areas. Chicago’s pressure put him under stress at times, but he completed an impressive 88% of his 80 passes. He was accurate on two of his three crosses and all three of his long balls found their targets as well. Pereyra also showed plenty of hustle on defense, making three tackles. The Designated Player didn’t have an assist, but continues to prove why he’s crucial to Orlando’s offense.

F, Alexandre Pato, 7.5 (MotM) — Pato recorded his second assist of the season with a patient and pinpoint header near the end line that found Kara wide open in front of goal. The Brazilian led the Lions with eight shots and nearly doubled Orlando’s lead in the 88th minute but his shot right in front of goal hit the crossbar. Two of his shots were on target, including a powerful strike from outside the box that Slonina saved but the rebound fell to Kara, who missed the open header. Five of his other shots were sent off target and another was blocked. He made four key passes, was accurate on two of his five crosses, and connected on two of his three long balls as he created chances for Orlando from start to finish. He could’ve taken better care of the ball at times as he was successful on two of five dribbles, had three unstable touches, and completed just 73% of his 37 passes. Regardless, Pato fueled Orlando’s offense. He is our Man of the Match for setting up the game’s only goal and creating a majority of Orlando’s chances to widen its lead.

F, Ercan Kara , 7 — The Austrian striker made his first goal for Orlando look easy with an open header directly in front of goal. It was also the first goal Orlando’s scored from a set piece this season as Kara made himself an easy target for Pato to find in the box following a free kick. He’s certainly fulfilling his role as Orlando’s target man in the box and nearly had a second goal with another open header but missed the open net. Kara had five shots in the match, putting two of them on target. The 26-year-old was accurate on 75% of his 12 passes and did well making runs for Pato, Pereyra, and Torres to find him in dangerous positions. It was a strong showing from Kara as he continues to find his footing in MLS.


MF, Júnior Urso (45’), 6 — The Bear came on at halftime for Araujo as Orlando shifted gears to score once Chicago was a man down. Although he didn’t have a shot or a key pass, his presence was felt on offense as he helped Orlando quickly build possession and find Lions in open space. It wasn’t a statistically dominant game from Urso but he saw quite a bit of the ball with 36 touches and 31 passes at a 90% success rate. After starting the first five games of the season, Urso received some rest in the first half and didn’t have to pick himself up from hard fouls in the second.

F, Tesho Akindele (74’), 6 — The Canadian striker came on in the second half and his best moment of the match was a nice pass from the right wing that gave Pato a chance to score in the box. His only shot was close but his header went wide of goal. He completed five of his six passes for an 83% success rate and his lone long ball found its mark. Although he didn’t record his first goal or assist of this season, his performance was enough to help Orlando see the game out.

F, Benji Michel (74’), 5 — He did well crashing the box for a header that he couldn’t get on target for his only shot of the game. It was otherwise a quiet appearance from Michel, although he was successful on two of his three dribbles. Although his speed didn’t help grow Orlando’s lead, it helped him apply pressure to the Fire when they were on the ball. The Homegrown Player completed both of his passes in the match and had eight touches.

D, Kyle Smith (74’), 5 — Coming on for Ruan, Smith didn’t have any crosses but was accurate on both of his long balls. He made a tackle and took care of the ball, completing all eight of his passes. Smith had 11 touches in another short appearance for Orlando this season as he helped see the Lions to a clean sheet.

MF, Andres Perea (85’), N/A — There wasn’t enough from Perea for us to grade him as he came on late in the match and helped secure the victory. Perea completed five of his six passes for an 83% success rate and had six touches in his cameo.

That’s how I saw the performances in Orlando City’s win at home against the previously undefeated Chicago Fire. The score doesn’t reflect a game Orlando controlled from start to finish, but the Lions couldn’t put away many of their chances.

Be sure to vote in the poll below for your Man of the Match.

Polling Closed

Alexandre Pato43
Mauricio Pereyra3
Ercan Kara3
Joao Moutinho1
Other (let us know who in the comments)1

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Inter Miami: Three Keys to Victory

Here are three things the Lions need to do in order to set themselves up for a win over Inter Miami.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Wednesday’s match didn’t go the way anyone hoped it would, but now it’s time to turn our attention to a Sunday matchup with Inter Miami back in the comfortable confines of Exploria Stadium. What follows are three things that I believe will go a long way toward helping the Lions emerge victorious from the Tropic Thunder derby and keeping Florida purple.

Close Down Sergio Busquets

As many headlines as Lionel Messi has rightfully been getting since joining Major League Soccer, I think Busquets is just as important to Miami’s success. He remains an excellent midfielder and his ability to transition the team from defense into attack and link the two lines together is crucial. He has two assists and eight key passes in six MLS appearances and is passing with 92% accuracy —if you give him time, he will make you pay. Even if Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena mark him tightly, he’ll still manage to find space at times and affect the game because he’s that good of a player. But the Lions cannot afford to repeatedly give him time and space to get on the ball, pick up his head, and play a pass or he’ll cut OCSC to ribbons. Getting tight to him and making his life difficult won’t stop him every time, but it’ll make life a hell of a lot easier. As soon as Orlando loses the ball in Miami’s half, someone needs to find no. 5 and close him down.

Play With an Edge, but Don’t Go Over It

This is likely going to be an extremely, fast, physical and heated game. These two teams don’t have any love lost for each other, and if last game is any indication, then Orlando is going to try to use its physicality to disrupt Miami from playing its brand of soccer. That’s not a bad strategy, and it’s one that was largely working during the aforementioned Leagues Cup match until the penalty kick call in the second half. If the Lions are going to try to repeat the tactic, then they need to play with physicality and intensity while toeing the line of what’s acceptable to do during a soccer game. Going down a man isn’t going to do OCSC any favors, so the boys in purple are going to have to flirt with the edge of the cliff without falling headfirst over it.

Stay Organized Defensively

We’ve seen some shaky defending during Orlando’s last two matches. Runners in behind were a particular problem during the match against the Columbus Crew, while Wednesday’s loss to NYCFC saw Talles Magno largely unmarked between two Orlando defenders to score the header that sealed the Lions’ fate. OCSC will likely still be without Antonio Carlos, but the Lions are capable of much better defending than they’ve done during the last week and they need to show it. Even if Lionel Messi doesn’t play, Miami has a whole host of guys who can hurt you in Josef Martinez, Leonardo Campana, Benjamin Cremaschi, Robert Taylor and Facundo Farias. The Lions need to be much more keyed in on defense than they have been the last two games, otherwise one or more of those guys is going to make them pay. Orlando has the firepower to put the ball in the back of the net, but it won’t matter if the team is giving up multiple preventable goals at the other end of the field.

If the Lions execute those three things then they’ve got as good a chance as any of getting a result on Sunday. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/22/23

Orlando City prepares for Inter Miami, MLS NEXT Pro Decision Day is Sunday, USWNT wins against South Africa, and much more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City B / Mark Thor

Happy Friday! It’s been a pretty busy week of apartment hunting and work for me, so I’m looking forward to some rest and relaxation this weekend. I don’t have many plans, but I did make sure to carve out a few hours to make a drink and get some reading done. My book club is fairly low maintenance, but I’ll be behind if I don’t finish Fourth Wing before the second book in the series comes out in November. Let’s get into today’s links!

Orlando City Takes On Inter Miami This Weekend

Following a 2-0 loss on the road to New York City FC earlier this week, Orlando City will aim to bounce back when it hosts rival Inter Miami this Sunday. Orlando has a chance to set club records for the most wins and points in a season since it joined MLS in 2015. It will be the third meeting between the two clubs this season, with Orlando beating Miami 3-1 in May before falling 3-1 in the Leagues Cup’s knockout stage. Although Miami will be without Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba according to Head Coach Tata Martino, the Herons still have plenty of attacking talent in the form of Sergio Busquets, Leonardo Campana, and Josef Martinez.

Orlando City B Readies for MLS NEXT Pro Decision Day

Sunday will also be the final day of the MLS NEXT Pro regular season, with nearly every team in action. Here’s everything you need to know about Decision Day across the league, with playoff spots still up for grabs. Orlando City B has already clinched its spot in the postseason, but can secure fifth in the Eastern Conference when it takes on FC Cincinnati 2. However, the difference between fifth and a lower seed won’t matter too much due to a new rule this year where the second and third seed in each conference choose which lower seed it wants to host in the playoffs. The Golden Boot race is competitive as well, with OCB’s Jack Lynn tied at the top with New York City FC II’s Matt Myers. We’ll see if Lynn takes part in Sunday’s match after giving the first team needed depth last weekend.

USWNT Beats South Africa in Julie Ertz’s Finale

The United States Women’s National Team won 3-0 against South Africa in the first of two friendlies this month. All three of the USWNT’s goals came in the first half, with Lynn Williams bagging a brace. In her final USWNT game, Julie Ertz started and earned plenty of applause from the crowd at TQL Stadium when she was subbed off in the 36h minute. M.A. Vignola made her USWNT debut in the match as well, coming on at halftime. The two nations will play again on Sunday in what will be forward Megan Rapinoe’s last game with the USWNT.

Europa League Group Stage Kicks Off

The first round of Europa League group stage matches is over, with all 32 teams getting things started across Europe. Brighton & Hove Albion’s first Europa League match was a rough one, as the English club fell 3-2 at home against AEK Athens. The Spanish clubs also struggled, with Villarreal getting shut out 2-0 by Panathinaikos and Real Betis losing 1-0 to Rangers. Elsewhere, AS Roma beat Sheriff Tiraspol 2-1 thanks to a winner from Romelu Lukaku, Liverpool won 3-1 over Austrian club LASK after trailing early on, and Marseille drew 3-3 with Ajax in a thriller. West Ham, Atalanta, Bayer Leverkusen, and SC Freiburg also won their group openers.

Free Kicks

  • Enjoy the sights and sounds from the Orlando City Foundation’s annual celebrity golf and footgolf tournament.

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

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. New York City FC: Player Grades and Man of the Match

How did your favorite Lions rate in Orlando City’s 2-0 loss against NYCFC?



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Despite Orlando City being the best road team in MLS, the club fell 2-0 to New York City FC. The Lions still officially punched their ticket into the playoffs thanks to D.C. United drawing Atlanta United elsewhere in the Eastern Conference. The Lions battled throughout the night on the baseball diamond of Citi Field but were unable to find the soccer goal. It will be a quick turnaround now as the team needs to regroup before Sunday’s home match against rival Inter Miami.

Let’s take a look at how Orlando City’s players rated individually in the defeat.


GK, Pedro Gallese, 7.5 (MotM)  The foul in the box by by Ramiro Enrique led to Gallese needing to make a big play against Santiago Rodriguez’s spot kick. Unfortunately, Gallese couldn’t control the rebound on his diving save, leading to a tap-in header that he really could do nothing about. El Pulpo’s services were called upon four minutes in against former teammate Andres Perea from point-blank range, and then again in the 51st and 52nd minutes when the Octopus was able to make strong-handed saves. However, in the 68th minute, a perfectly placed Talles Magno header was placed where the Peruvian couldn’t make the stop. I don’t think either of the goals were his fault, nor would your favorite worldbeater goalkeeper abroad have stopped them. For that, Gallese is my Man of the Match for having made five saves in total and passing at an 81.1% rate while completing six of his 11 long balls.

D, Rafael Santos, 5.5 — The left back spent much of the first 20 minutes of the match getting faked and dribbled around down the channel. He continually jumped at a feinted cross or turned his back only for his man to dribble into an even more dangerous location inside the box. For a player who has been solid over the last few matches, Santos sure did look shaky and mentally unready for his matchup. His lone shot attempt was off target. He was 2-for-2 on crossing accuracy but just one of his four long balls found their target, while his overall passing rate was a lowly 65.4%, including one key pass. Defensively, he contributed two tackles, two clearances, and a foul while being fouled once himself.

D, Robin Jansson, 6 — It isn’t often that I look back on a match and can’t personally think of any Jansson highlights. He was definitely out there on the pitch, but he never stepped up above and beyond the call of duty like he is known to do. He likely escaped a garbage time yellow card while berating referee Ismail Elfath, but thankfully James Sands stepped in to push the Beefy Swede away to safety. Jansson had one tackle, a clearance, and a blocked shot. He passed at 84.6%, but only two of his 11 long balls were accurate. No wonder Facundo Torres was disappointed every time a deep ball came his way, as chance after chance was uncharacteristically wasted by Jansson.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 4.5 — It is never a great sign in a losing match when a center back doesn’t log a single tackle. It usually means they are whiffing, getting out-dribbled, or caught out of position. At times, it seems like each of those could have been the case for Schlegel in this match. Orlando might not get Antonio Carlos back this season, but if that is the case, then Schlegel has to do better, especially as he led the team with 92 touches. He was completely unaware of Magno on the second NYCFC goal and was part of a defense that fell asleep often on set pieces. He did offer one key pass, but his only shot missed the frame. He passed at an 84.5% rate, but like his counterpart, also struggled to connect on long balls. Rodri landed only three of 10 attempts. His two interceptions and two clearances might be the only things that help him save face on the night.

D/MF, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 6 — Dagur Dan’s first dangerous look of the night came in the 22nd minute as a ball deflected out to him just outside box. The hybrid wingback whipped a curling ball just inside the six-yard box that Enrique barely missed connecting on, which would have opened the scoring on the night. From that point forward, it was much of what we have been seeing from the Icelandic midfielder. He drifts wide to defend and then slides a bit more interior on the attack. I don’t hate it, but I also didn’t love it on a pitch where the small size already clogs the center of the park. He only offered one clearance in his defensive statistics. Offensively, he had a key pass, a through ball, and completed two dribbles. He also passed at an 88.6% rate on 44 attempts and was one-for-two on his crosses.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 6 — At times it seems the Uruguayan goes down softly despite being a bruiser in the defensive midfield on his own. I don’t necessarily hate it, as he does a great job slowing down the game at times when he rolls over, but there were a couple moments in this match where I wish he would have stood his ground and knocked the ball on forward to his teammates for a quick counter opportunity. Either way, Araujo drew a team-high four fouls yet again on the opposition. His passing was a respectable 86.8% on 53 attempts, and two of five long balls found their mark. His failure to properly mark Birk Risa on a set piece late in the game nearly cost Orlando City a third goal conceded. He made one clean tackle but also gave two fouls up. He took one shot on the night and would have done better to lay it off to a couple other Lions in the area.

MF, Wilder Cartagena, 5.5 — The Brazilian almost incited a riot on the pitch by running through a Pigeon after the whistle, but to be fair, it was a bang-bang play and he was coming in at full speed already. It didn’t take long after for Cartagena to earn his yellow card. He was fouled twice but gave three total himself. He also stepped up twice to clear the ball out of danger. With his 30 touches, he passed 20 times at 85% success but neither of his two crosses found a teammate.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 6.5 — I feel bad for players with attributes like Angulo when they have to play on the baseball fields. While he has the pace and could likely steal home, it doesn’t translate when you’re playing soccer in a compact outfield. His biggest strength is a push-and-go into space but that just isn’t available in Citi Field. Angulo did put his only shot on target when he was able to get involved in the attack. He also had one key pass in his 18 passing attempts (88.9%). Defensively, he made a pair of tackles and an interception. Angulo drew one foul.

MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 6 — The midfield maestro popped in and out of the half spaces throughout the night to distribute from one side of the pitch to the other. He led the team with three shots but not one of them was on target. With 53 touches on the ball, he was able to complete 80% of his 35 passes and one of two long balls, but he was sloppy in terms of staying on the ball too long at times, having two unstable touches and getting dispossessed twice. While it will go down in the match notes as a yellow card for persistent infringement, the referee was likely just trying to slow down a match that was beginning to get a little too chippy for his liking. The attacking midfielder put up a team-high four tackles in addition to his clearance and three fouls. Sometimes your skipper has to do the dirty work, and I’m ok with that.

MF, Facundo Torres, 6.5 — The Designated Player had a mixed bag in the first half, as his teammates seemed to miss him with their long passes. But down 1-0 at the start of the second half, Torres found a low driven cross slightly behind him just outside the six-yard box that he wasn’t able to put on frame. When he was on the ball though, he completed two dribbles and made three key passes to go with his two-for-three crossing and one-for-one long ball percentages. In total, 91.4% of his 35 passes completed which isn’t bad at all for only 46 total touches.

F, Ramiro Enrique, 4.5 — It wasn’t just the tackle in the box that caused Enrique to give up a penalty, but it was his errant pass that he attempted to lay off to Dagur Dan first. Ultimately, both errors equated to what was NYCFC’s first goal. I would like to say the poor play stopped there for him, but he blew what could have been a couple golden chances by dribbling too long and failing to see the open man to pass to. It truly is sad to see how a Player of the Matchday fell from his pedestal just days later. He was taken off after 58 minutes with just 16 touches to his name. Despite winning three aerial duels and making a clearance, his lowly 70% passing rating, missed cross, missed shot, and critical foul conceded really put a damper on his stats. If there was such an award that equates to opposite of MotM, I unfortunately have to cast it upon the MLS U22 Initiative forward.


MF, Martin Ojeda (59′), 6.5 — Ojeda replaced Cartagena as Orlando City had fallen behind by a goal and the Lions needed to create more offensive chances. While he did create one key pass, the Designated Player only found himself on the ball 22 times in his late minutes. He completed 66.7% of his 12 passes and completed his only long ball attempt, but was one-for-six with his crossing and didn’t attempt a shot. Defensively, Ojeda had one tackle and an interception.

D, Luca Petrasso (59′), 5.5 — The Canadian came on and just under 10 minutes later lost a 50-50 aerial battle in the channel which became a crossed ball to Magno that was headed in for the Pigeons second goal of the match. Petrasso took one shot that was blocked, but he had Torres standing right next to him, who would have been the better option. While he lost the only aerial that really mattered, he did win one of his own though, to go along with two tackles and a clearance. He missed his long ball and cross attempts but landed 88.9% of his 18 passes.

F, Duncan McGuire (59′), 5 — Big Dunc is back, but the Big Dunc Energy was not. With only six touches and no shots across more than half an hour, the striker should be disappointed with his impact. His only stats contributed were a successful long ball and an 83.3% success rate on just six passing attempts.

D, Michael Halliday (80′), N/A — The Homegrown right back came on to provide some late fresh legs while the Lions attempted to come from behind. It was a little too late for Halliday to make a real impact on his own. In his time, he managed 15 touches, won an aerial, passed at a 75% rate, and recorded a clearance.

MF, Gastón González (80′), N/A — The Argentinian winger made his return to the pitch after a lengthy injury period to garner a few minutes and get his legs back under him. His only shot was on target, which is hopefully a great sign for the future. He had seven total touches, completing both of his passes, but missed his only cross. He also gave up one foul.

That’s how I saw the individual performances on Wednesday night as Orlando City fell to expansion rival NYCFC. What did I get right/wrong in your view? Be sure to vote for your Man of the Match in our poll below and provide your thoughts in the comments section.

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