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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. LAFC: Final Score 3-1 as Wasteful Lions Fall on Late Counterattacks

Lions remain winless against the L.A. club after wasting numerous good scoring chances, including a penalty.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City remain winless against LAFC after wasting a good performance against one of the league’s top teams. After missing the net with numerous chances, including a penalty, and falling behind on an LAFC penalty just before halftime, Orlando (4-8-5, 17 points) battled back to tie the game, only to concede on two late counterattacks, falling 3-1 to LAFC (10-4-3, 33 points) in front of 22,563 at Inter&Co Stadium.

Denis Bouanga scored a brace and Mateusz Bogusz scored the game-winning goal to more than offset Martin Ojeda’s first goal of the MLS season. The Lions fell to an awful 1-5-3 in home games this season and dropped to 14th place in the Eastern Conference.

The story, once again, was missed opportunities. The Lions attempted 19 shots but put only one of them on target. Orlando City’s performance and energy level was good, but the team still can’t get the details right in front of the net, either missing the target, getting shots and final passes blocked, or outright refusing to shoot until it’s too late to do so.

“(I have) no more words at this time to recognize that we were superior, that we put that energy and outplayed them, but that’s not enough, obviously,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “In this industry, we need to win games, and you win games scoring goals. And that’s not happening.”

With Pedro Gallese, David Brekalo, and Wilder Cartagena away on international duty, Pareja’s lineup featured Mason Stajduhar in goal behind a back line of Rafael Santos, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, and Dagur Dan Thorhallsson. Cesar Araujo was joined in central midfield by Nico Lodeiro behind an attacking line of Ivan Angulo, Facundo Torres, and Luis Muriel, with Duncan McGuire up top.

The first half started cautiously, with neither side able to mount much of an attack against the other’s defense. Orlando won the game’s first corner in the seventh minute but the cross into the area was too close to Hugo Lloris, providing catching practice for the LAFC goalkeeper.

Orlando City then dominated most of the first half hour. Muriel got onto a Torres cross in the 11th minute but the pass was a bit too high and all the Colombian could do was nod it over. A minute later, no one closed down Lodeiro outside the box and the Uruguayan sent a screamer that sailed just inches over the crossbar.

The first look for LAFC came in minute 18, when a perfect cross just barely cleared Jansson’s head and found Kei Kamara, who headed wide.

McGuire fired a shot well over the bar in the 19th minute from just outside the area. Angulo fizzed a shot well wide on the recycle of a corner kick in the 20th.

Muriel then slipped Angulo down the left side of the area in the 23rd but the winger was hesitant to shoot and the defense arrived to dispossess him, on a play that encapsulated the 2024 OCSC season so far. Muriel then had a shot blocked by the defense a minute later.

Timothy Tillman finally got a shot for LAFC in the 31st minute but sent it right at Stajduhar for the first shot on target of the match for either side.

The Lions should have taken the lead in the 32nd minute. Torres was bundled over from behind by Eduard Atuesta in the box and Rubiel Vazquez immediately signaled for a penalty. Torres took the spot kick and crushed a cannon shot that just missed the top left corner, wasting a golden opportunity. The missed penalty was Torres’ first at any level of soccer in his entire career. He’d never missed the net or had one saved before his miss in this match.

The missed penalty gave LAFC life and the visitors started controlling more of the possession, but not doing much with it. Bouanga hadn’t had any opportunities to speak of , so he attempted a shot from long range in the 37th minute but sent the shot wide.

Bouanga then went for goal in the 42nd minute on a free kick conceded by Araujo, albeit on a soft call. The LAFC star sent his shot just inches wide of the right post into the outside netting.

The game turned in LAFC’s favor moments later on the counter attack. Bouanga’s speed was too much for Jansson as he charged down the left channel. Anticipating a cutback cross, Araujo went to ground and caught Bouanga’s foot in the 44th minute. Again, Vazquez immediately signaled for a penalty. Stajduhar guessed correctly but Bouanga’s shot beat him to make it 1-0 in the 45th minute.

The Lions couldn’t do anything with a couple of late corners in stoppage time and went to the locker room trailing after a good performance in all facets e

Orlando City held the first-half advantage in shots (11-6), corners (4-0), and passing accuracy (93.2%-89.5%), while LAFC held more of the ball (53.2%-46.8%) and shots on target (3-0). The Lions’ continued missing the net and passing up shots was the obvious difference between the two sides.

“When you have those metrics, and you see it, the first thing that we think is we can analyze and find answers through metrics, but I think it goes beyond that,” Pareja said about the team’s poor finishing. “Yeah, we have actions to score. I thought that we had possibilities, but we’re not being precise and taking a good timing to take a shot. We want to do an extra pass. What I can tell you, and this is something where I, as a coach, want to stand up and put my chest in front, is that this group, they all week were working on that part, and it’s not happening. It’s not happening. I’m here. I need to coach them. I need to guide them. I need to provide possibilities, and I want to review it again. But it is not me, the coach, that comes here to (put the) blame on them, especially when I see that group fighting the way they fought today.”

Bogusz took the first shot of the second half, sending an attempt off target in the 50th minute.

Orlando came agonizingly close in the 53rd minute on a short corner. Santos whipped in a cross that McGuire headed but didn’t steer on frame. The ball skipped just in front of Torres at the wide-open back post.

Angulo sent in a cross in the 59th minute but put too much on it. Torres did well to get a foot on it but couldn’t steer it anywhere near goal. That was about the last contribution from Angulo, who had a tough night with his touch, as he was replaced by Ojeda two minutes later.

The defense sagged off of Araujo in the 65th minute so the midfielder blasted a shot attempt that once again sailed off target.

Orlando finally put a shot on target in the 69th minute and it was a goal. Ojeda found Muriel at the top of the area and continued his run into the box. Muriel sent a scoop pass over the defense that fell perfectly for Ojeda, who touched it past Lloris to tie the match. It was Ojeda’s first MLS goal in 2024 and it gave the Lions life.

“Obviously, (Muriel) has got great skill, and he had a great touch on the ball,” Ojeda said of his give-and-go with the Colombian forward. “And he put it right to the space where I was thinking and I was able to finish it off, thankfully. So, to be able to score that goal, I was just really happy, especially in that moment that we tied the game and we put ourselves in a position where we could go and win the game. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out that way in the rest of the game, but that’s what happens.”

The goal snapped LAFC’s 644-minute shutout streak in all competitions and a 549-minute stretch without conceding in MLS play.

Encouraged by the goal, the Lions began hunting for a go-ahead goal. A good cross from Santos was nearly put in the net by LAFC defender Jesus Murillo, but it went wide for a corner. Orlando couldn’t do anything with that set piece or another won moments later by Torres.

The game-winner came in the 80th minute. Torres was on the ball in the attacking end and felt he was held and fouled as he was dispossessed. The ball fell for Bogusz on the right and the speedy winger blasted down the right channel past the Orlando defense and beat Stajduhar to put the visitors ahead in transition.

Orlando had a chance to pull the goal back in the 85th minute on a back-post cross by Lodeiro for Ojeda, but the ball was just a bit high and sailed out of play.

A minute later, Bouanga put the game away. Once again the Lions were beaten on the counterattack as LAFC’s talisman put the game away in the 86th minute.

“My first impression was that we didn’t have enough numbers to control the counter, but it wasn’t like that,” Pareja said. “I thought we had enough numbers and we had enough people to control that play. They were faster than us in that position. We knew that they had fast players, as well, but we were controlling them until we tied the game.”

The Lions had one more half-chance in stoppage time when Ojeda just missed a shot wide of the right post. Stajduhar then made a couple of saves at the other end and the game was over.

Orlando City finished with the advantage in possession (54.2%-45.8%), shots (19-12), corners (9-1), and passing accuracy (93%-87.5%). LAFC put more shots on target (7-1) and that tells the story not only of this match but of the 2024 season in general for Orlando.

“We knew that we needed to take the responsibility to push,” Pareja said. “That’s what we need to do at home and try to look for that goal that can give us the win. And then those two plays came, especially that second goal.”

“We had 19 shots, but we have to continue making sure that we’re trying to put those shots on goal, and put ourselves in clear chances to be able to finish, and to create those goals more,” Ojeda said. “Those are things that we know that we have to continue fixing. We have to continue trying and making sure that we’re improving, and that’s something that we talked about in the locker room. We are our biggest self critics in everything that we do.”

Pareja expressed respect for his team’s overall performance, but acknowledged that without scoring goals and putting shots on target, the team can’t get results.

“We were waiting to take a shot, and we’re taking one more pass, and we desperately just get in that moment when we were losing confidence,” he said. “And that’s where the coach comes (in). I need to help them somehow.”

After playing their first game in two weeks, the Lions have a short turnaround as the fixture schedule becomes more congested. Orlando City will visit Charlotte FC on Wednesday.

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Orlando City

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

The Lions host Western Conference power LAFC with some key players out on international duty.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Welcome to your match thread for a Saturday night matchup between Orlando City (4-7-5, 17 points) and Los Angeles FC (9-4-3, 30 points) at Inter&Co Stadium (7:30 p.m. MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+). This is the only scheduled meeting between the two cross-conference opponents this season.

Here’s what you need to know:


Orlando City has yet to taste victory against LAFC in league play (0-2-1), is 0-1-1 at home in the series, and is 0-2-2 in all competitions against the Black & Gold. What many people will remember as a win was actually a 1-1 draw and took place in the knockout stages of the MLS is Back Tournament in 2020 with Orlando City advancing on penalties.

These teams last met on April 2, 2022 in Orlando. The Lions fell behind twice in the first half on goals by Brian Rodriguez and Jesus David Murillo but fought back to pull level both times on strikes by Alexandre Pato and Joao Moutinho. However, Ilie Sanchez and Kwadwo Opoku struck in the second half for the visitors as LAFC won 4-2.

The Lions’ most memorable outing against LAFC came in the MLS is Back Tournament on July 31, 2020. Moutinho’s late goal canceled out one from Bradley Wright-Phillips and sent that match to penalties. The Lions advanced after winning the penalty shootout, 5-4. Pedro Gallese was huge in that match and all five Orlando shooters scored their penalties, while only Jordan Harvey missed for LAFC, hitting the crossbar.

The Lions and LAFC drew 2-2 at Exploria Stadium on Sept. 7, 2019. Adrien Perez put the visitors on the board in the 12th minute, but Nani struck back just a minute later off a quick play on the ensuing kickoff. Benji Michel put the Lions ahead in the 20th minute and — just when it appeared Orlando might pull off the upset — Diego Rossi scored in the 78th to tie things up.

LAFC won the initial meeting of the series in 2018 at Banc of California Stadium, running away 4-1 after the Lions had an apparent tying goal overturned for offside on a play that didn’t seem all that clear or obvious of an error to me. But admittedly I’m limited to only the replays they showed on my television set. Sacha Kljestan scored for Orlando to cut a 2-0 lead in half. That lead was built on goals by Adama Diomande and Latif Blessing. Orlando scored a second that was overturned and Diomande and Rossi finished the Lions off. That initial meeting of the two teams was also the first game the Lions played under James O’Connor.


Orlando City last played two weeks ago on June 1, when the Lions fell 1-0 to the New York Red Bulls on the road. John Tolkin’s free kick was the difference. Despite the solid defensive outing by Orlando, the Lions produced nothing offensively and have struggled to create (and finish) chances since a 3-2 win at Philadelphia on May 11. Orlando City is winless in three games (0-2-1), has scored just twice in its last five games, and has been shut out three times in that span. If you’re looking for a silver lining, the Lions have conceded only four goals in the last five matches, and only two of those have come from open play. The other two were Tolkin’s free kick and a penalty by Diego Rossi.

The Lions have been abysmal at home in 2024, compiling a record of just 1-4-3 at Inter&Co Stadium. Things won’t be any easier for Orlando tonight against a team in the thick of the Supporters’ Shield race and having to play without goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, midfielder-turned-center back Wilder Cartagena, and center back David Brekalo, who are all away on international duty.

LAFC is flying right now. The Black & Gold have won seven straight in all competitions, have earned victories in five consecutive regular-season matches, and have not conceded a goal in their last six competitive games. While the California side is just 2-4-1 away from home in 2024, it has won its last two road matches without allowing a goal (at Atlanta and St. Louis City).

Tonight’s visitors are scary offensively. Denis Bouanga’s 10 goals and five assists each are club bests, but Mateusz Bogusz has added six goals and three assists. Cristian Olivera and Timothy Tillman have each chipped in four goals, while Eduard Atuesta has added a pair of goals and four assists. Bouanga may be the ringleader, but LAFC can spread the wealth offensively.

The Lions will need to be just as focused on defensive responsibilities (or more so) as they were two weeks ago in New Jersey.

“We have these days where the boys needed to have a break. At the end, I think it’s something that’s very healthy for them. After that, we reunited the group and started thinking of what’s coming,” Head Coach Oscar Pareja said ahead of the match. “The second half of the season we have to push and have urgency to attempt, but we’re good, training and thinking about LAFC now.”

In addition to Gallese, Cartagena, and Brekalo, Orlando City will be without backup defenders Michael Halliday (knee) and Tahir Reid-Brown (thigh). LAFC lists Lorenzo Dellavalle (knee), David Martínez (back) as out on its preliminary availability report.

Match Content

Official Lineups

Orlando City (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Mason Stajduhar.

Defenders: Rafael Santos, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson.

Defensive Midfielders: Cesar Araujo, Nico Lodeiro.

Attacking Midfielders: Ivan Angulo, Facundo Torres, Luis Muriel.

Forwards: Duncan McGuire.

Bench: Javier Otero, Alex Freeman, Kyle Smith, Thomas Williams, Jeorgio Kocevski, Felipe, Shak Mohammed, Martin Ojeda, Jack Lynn.

Los Angeles FC (4-3-3)

Goalkeeper: Hugo Lloris.

Defenders: Ryan Hollingshead, Aaron Long, Jesus Murillo, Sergi Palencia.

Midfielders: Eduard Atuesta, Ilie Sanchez, Timothy Tillman.

Forwards: Denis Bouanga, Kei Kamara, Mateusz Bogusz.

Bench: Omar Campos, Maxime Chanot, Erik Duenas, Thomas Musto, Nathan Ordaz, Abraham Romero, Eddie Segura, Tomas Angel.


REF: Rubiel Vazquez.
AR1: Nick Uranga.
AR2: Adam Wienckowski.
4TH: Calin Radosav.
VAR: Younes Marrakchi.
AVAR: Claudiu Badea.

How to Watch

Match Time: 7:30 p.m. ET.

Venue: Inter&Co Stadium — Orlando.

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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Orlando City

Intelligence Report: Orlando City vs. LAFC

Get some insider information on LAFC courtesy of someone who knows the team best.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

We find ourselves at the end of another week, which means that another Orlando City match is almost upon us. Following a two-week break, the Lions will return to action with a home contest against LAFC.

A date with LAFC means I got some insider info on the opposition from Trebor Tracy, the managing editor of Angels on Parade. They’re another former SBNation blog that has gone independent, and they continue to do excellent work covering LAFC, Angel City FC, and Orange County SC, so make sure you check them out!

Catch me up on some of LAFC’s off-season transfer business. Who are some names that were brought in, and who went out the door?

Trebor Tracy:  LAFC came into this season as close to a rebuild project as you can be for a team many expect to compete for championships and trophies each year. In the off-season the team saw 15 departures from the 2023 squad, and that’s not counting loans out. Among the bigger names leaving Los Angeles were both goalkeepers that helped lift LAFC to the 2022 MLS Cup, midfielder Kellyn Acosta, defenders Denil Maldonado and Diego Palacios, and of course, the departure of inaugural signing Carlos Vela. This was a team expected to look completely different this season and it has. As for the arrivals, the team spent the off-season loading up on the likes of goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, forwards Kei Kamara and Cristian Olivera, and defender Omar Campos. The rough start to the year for Los Angeles had a lot to do with the newness of the team and having to build that familiarity within the XI. 

Of the incoming transfers, who has made the biggest impression? Is there anyone who you’d like to see performing better than they have been so far?

TT: Its been hard for LAFC to replace a lot of the departures — not just in terms of production, but leadership and experience in several cases. While not technically an off-season arrival, Cristian Olivera, who arrived in summer window of 2023, really came into his own this season. With an entire off-season under his belt, he has by far been the best of the new arrivals for LAFC. He is producing goals, creating opportunities for others, and has that confidence this team thrives off of. On the other side of the coin, Hugo Lloris has been the biggest disappointment. In fairness to him, he has drastically improved during the team’s recent run, but the start of his MLS career had him easily one of the worst keepers in the league. 

LAFC is on a five-game unbeaten run in league play, what’s been working so well for the team during this stretch?

TT: Speaking of that run, the play of Lloris is why they have done so well recently. Well, that and Denis Bouanga appears to have found his soccer boots again. The 180 those two have done has been the catalyst for the team’s great run of form lately. 

Will any players be unavailable for selection due to injury, suspension, call-ups, etc.? What is your projected starting XI and score prediction?

TT: Availability reports come out night before the match, and we have the team presser this afternoon. with a few players set to return, I am unsure at the moment as to who exactly will be  ready to go.

Thank you to Trebor for helping get us caught up on LAFC. Vamos Orlando!

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