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Orlando City

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



Orlando City held on to a 2-1 victory over the Houston Dynamo. Late into stoppage time, it looked as if the Dynamo had leveled it but the assistant referee raised his flag for an offside call. This was definitely one of the Lions’ best performances collectively as a unit across the pitch. What follows is how I rated the individual performances in this one.


GK, Pedro Gallese, 7 — El Pulpo did what he does best. He stepped up to make big saves at key moments yet again, proving why he is the first name on Orlando’s team sheet. He started his night making a great save in the sixth minute. But, there were two key plays in the second half where he earned his grade. The first came in the 64th minute, when he stopped a 1-v-1 situation by taking a yellow card well outside the area. Later, he made a huge save in the 71st minute low and on the line to secure the win. He finished with four saves, passed at an 86% rate and had 31 touches on the ball.

D, Joao Moutinho, 6.5 — It looked to be a night when Moutinho decided to come out of the locker room and put on a passing clinic. His first half was filled with pinpoint passes, long balls, and subtle dinks over top that might usually go unnoticed. He found his way into the attack on a number of occasions and played just as well when called upon in the back. There was a brief moment when Moutinho thought he had earned the team a penalty by crossing the ball into the box for a handball; however, it was rightfully overturned by VAR as a free kick just outside the box. He finished his night with two tackles and interceptions, completing three long balls and passing with 82% accuracy while touching the ball 45 times.

D, Robin Jansson, 5.5 — The Beefy Swede did himself no favors by earning yet another yellow card for dissent in the 14th minute. It will also cost him another suspension for accumulation, as the Lions head to Cincinnati on Friday. He had a typically buccaneering performance. Jansson passed with 84% success, with three long balls, completed a dribble, had three clearances, and a tackle on only 35 touches. This was definitely a game that as the lone first-team center back, he should have provided the club a bit more.

D, Kyle Smith, 6 — Smith spent most of the first half going unnoticed. But as a “break glass in case of emergency” option, there is nothing wrong with that. Unfortunately, he did lose his mark and ultimately the header that ended up in the back of the net. There were also a few other errant passes throughout the night that could have cost the Lions, but thankfully Houston was unable to capitalize. Statistically, he won an aerial duel and a tackle, and recorded one interception. He also stepped up when he was needed most for seven clearances, passed at a 79% rate, and had the second-most touches on the back line, with 59. He often seemed to be in the right place at the right time, offering up his body to block hard-struck shots and take a little pressure off of Gallese.

D, Ruan, 6 — In the 17th minute, Ruan played a dangerous diagonal ball on a training ground set piece to Kara. Otherwise, it was a quiet night from the speedy right back. While he did find himself in the attack and making runs into the channels, he never really seemed dangerous coming forward like he is known to look. He was able to complete 32 passes at an 87% rate, with five crosses and three long balls. But defensively, he only mustered up a two tackles all night.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 6.5 — Araujo always seems to pop up just when you need him to. As he spent most of his night hanging back while Urso pushed forward, he was able to pass 50 times at a great 92% success rate, won a tackle, made three interceptions, and had 59 touches. He also committed two fouls while being fouled twice to keep things nice and even. There was never a highlight reel moment for Araujo in this match, but he also didn’t give any up and he shielded a makeshift center back pairing well.

MF, Junior Urso, 6 — The Bear spent much of his first half racking up yellow cards for the Dynamo players. He was fouled twice but knocked down many more times. He led the team in passing percentage (93.9%) across 33 passes. He went two for two on long ball accuracy and put one of his three shots on target. He did miss an easy tap-in finish in first-half stoppage time and had a chance saved in the 47th minute. Defensively, he made two tackles but also gave up two fouls.

MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 8 (MotM) — Pereyra was the maestro he was brought in to be on the night. He distributed well with cheeky chips and long balls throughout the match. He had 58 touches and passed at an 80% clip, while recording a game-high six key passes in the process. He is credited as having two assists on the night — one secondary and one primary — but really the goal on the latter should have been his. He pegged an unknowing Kara in the calf on a powerful shot that became Kara’s second goal, but it always seemed to be going into the back of the net regardless. On the first goal, he played a perfectly weighted ball to Torres that was then passed on to Kara for the opener. The only blemish on his night would be a yellow card that he really knew nothing about. Pereyra chested down a ball and went to play it on the volley at the same time a Dynamo player ran in from behind him. Striking the player with his boot earned him an unfortunate booking.

MF, Jake Mulraney, 6.5 — I have become a Mulraney fan over his past few appearances. But tonight, we were shown a new aspect of his game. While he is pacey and dangerous on the wings, it seemed he was given more freedom to cut inside and make runs. The free flowing role with the player drifting inside is something we are accustomed to seeing Torres do, but at times it caught the Dynamo off guard when it came from the other side. He looked even more dangerous on the inside than on the touchlines, and it will be interesting to see this develop more over the coming weeks. He passed at a 76% rate and offered four shots but none were on target. He had no defensive statistics on the night, but he did stand up attackers well in hold-up play.

MF, Facundo Torres, 7 — Torres had a series of great passes throughout the match. In the 19th minute, he played a perfectly weighted ball to Ruan, setting up a cross and chance. In the 25th minute, he made the extra pass to Kara for the first goal and his fifth assist of the year. In the 47th minute, he took on the back line and was able to lay off to Urso for a shot. While only one of these plays led to a goal, he was able to keep the attacking pressure and momentum up for the Lions. He had one shot and four key passes. He got stuck in for three tackles and a clearance. He crossed the ball four times and went two for two on long balls with his 87% passing rate. Overall, it was a solid shift for the Designated Player.

F, Ercan Kara, 7.5 — The stat sheet shows two goals for Kara, but he really only knew about one of them, securing the team’s first brace of the year. He opened the scoring in the 25th minute, sliding at the back post to tap in and finish off a DP-to-DP-to-DP sequence. In the 58th minute, Kara found himself standing near the six-yard box when Pereyra struck a ball low and hard in his direction. The deflection off his calf gave him a brace for the night, but I’m sure he will give credit to Pereyra in the locker room. Kara put four of his five shots on target, won an aerial battle, won two tackles, and had a clearance.


F, Benji Michel (64’), 5.5 — It never seemed like Michel got involved in the game. He wasted what could have been the nail in the coffin with a stoppage-time chance. But even before then, he only touched the ball 13 times across nearly 30 minutes of play. As he continues to work back from injury, he will need to offer the team more or else he might just find himself being replaced permanently.

MF, Andres Perea (68’), 6 — Perea had 18 touches in the final minutes of the game. He won two aerial duels, a tackle, and had a clearance to see the Lions to victory. He completed his 12 passes at a 75% rate.

F, Tesho Akindele (78’), N/A — Lately, it seems like Akindele finds himself playing on the wings opposed to striker — as he often did under Pareja in Dallas. He came on late in the match to offer some fresh legs and size defensively. He was able to offer the club a much-needed clearance late.

F, Alexandre Pato (78’), N/A — Pato came on to offer that super-sub spark. While there weren’t enough minutes left in the game for him to get his own goal, he did find himself in behind the back line in the 93rd minute. He laid the ball across the face of goal for an onrushing Michel, but the chance was ultimately wasted. Pato likely could have done better firing at the goal, and in the future, we need to see him finish teams late in games.

MF, Sebas Mendez (78’), N/A — With only four touches, there’s not much by which to judge Mendez’s performance. He completed two of his four passes.

That’s how I saw the performances on Saturday night in Exploria Stadium. Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments, and don’t forget to vote for Man of the Match.

Polling Closed

Mauricio Pereyra20
Ercan Kara37
Pedro Gallese6
Facundo Torres7
Other (Let us know who in the comments)1

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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Orlando City

Orlando City Needs to Start Using the Scoreboard Again

A deep statistical dive into Orlando City’s offensive struggles. We’re warning you…there will be math (but we do it for you).



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

One of the more memorable scenes in my favorite movie of all time, Bull Durham, is when the manager walks into the showers after another loss, yells at the team about their recent performance, and ends with “this (baseball) is a simple game: you throw the ball, you hit the ball, you catch the ball. You got it!?” Soccer is, of course, a little different but the concept remains the same. You pass the ball, you shoot the ball, you score the ball. Unless you are Orlando City, recently.

Anyone can look at the recent results for Orlando City and see that goals have been, shall we say, less than plentiful. But why is that happening? Well, one idea may be that another team in Orlando is using up all the goals, with the Orlando Pride having scored 19 (excluding opposition own goals) to Orlando City’s 15, with the Pride having played four fewer games to boot, but goals are not a zero-sum equation (I know you asked your math teacher for years when you would ever need to use equations in the real world; you’re welcome!), so let’s dive into what has been going on for Orlando City and take a look at what may be causing an average of 0.94 goals/game (again, excluding opposition own goals) in the 2024 MLS season after an average of 1.6 goals/game in 2023.

Wayne Gretzky famously said, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,” but I do not think a lack of shots taken is the main culprit for this Orlando City team this season. Yes, in the last match against the Red Bulls the Lions only managed five shots (all stats in this article are courtesy of,  in collaboration with Opta, which codes thousands of matches every weekend across hundreds of competitions all over the world), but for the 2024 season, Orlando City is averaging 11.8 shots/game, 1.1 shots/game fewer than the league average of 12.9 but actually 0.1 higher than Orlando City’s 11.7 shots/game from 2023. Orlando City’s 11.8 shots/game ranks 23rd in all of MLS — not great, but the team with the most shots/game, St. Louis FC at 16.8, has only earned one more point than Orlando City after playing the same number of games, and the correlation (I told you there would be math) between shots/game and goals is relatively weak (r = 0.25, a strong positive correlation would be an r between 0.7 and the maximum r value of 1.0), so a higher value of shots/game does not necessarily lead to more goals.

What does tend to lead to more goals is more shots on target. I know, I know, you never would have thought of that. And as we look into shots on target for Orlando City in 2024, lo and behold, this is where we start to really see where the problems have arisen this season. Orlando City ranks 26th in MLS this year with 29% shots on target, so when you combine a rank of 23rd in shots/game with a rank of no. 26 in shots on target, you get a team that has scored a low amount of Goals as compared to the rest of the league. Orlando City’s 29% shots on target rate in 2024 is an 18% decrease from its 2023 shots on target percentage of 36% (7% raw decrease (36%-29% = 7%) but an 18% percent decrease (29%/36% – 100% = -18%), and the Lions’ 29% shots on target percentage is 1.28 standard deviations below the MLS average.

This is probably the time for me to tell you I was that high school math teacher who students asked about using math in the real world, and I did teach AP statistics, where we frequently talked about standard deviations and 1.28 standard deviations below the average is, in this case, to use a technical term, u-g-l-y and they ain’t got no alibi.

Is it as ugly as Bubba Sparxxx rapped about back in 2000? Was that just a question to make a pop culture reference about a song I enjoyed when I was in high school? Yes and yes. The first time I ever heard former Orlando City coach Adrian Heath interviewed he said, “Goals change games,” which of course is obvious and means that those who are taking the most shots need to be game changers. Looking at the table below, we can see who has been taking the shots and the differences between 2024 and 2023:

At first glance there is some good news. Orlando City’s leading shot takers this year are generally shooting on target around the league average, but it is on the clinical side, the goals per shot on target and goals per shot attempt where we can see that Orlando City is struggling.

We do see that Duncan McGuire continues to be clinical when he gets his shots on target, but the big drop for him is that last year he put nearly three out of every four shots on target and this year he is down to something much closer to the league average of around one out of every three. Among players with at least 17 shots last year (I chose this number because it would be 0.5 shots/game across 34 games and because it is my father’s favorite number), Duncan ranked first out of 244 MLS players in shots on target percentage and in goals per shots on target, and though his numbers this year are still above average, he is down to 43rd and 13th out of the 108 players who have taken more than 17 shots, respectively (keeping the same shot volume threshold for consistency). Four other major takeaways from me on this chart:

  • Facundo Torres was second on the list for most shots taken in 2023 and was an excellent finisher (this does include penalties, but they are shots and you have to make them), but in 2024 he is tied for fifth in shots with Dagur Dan Thórhallsson at only 15 shots taken.
  • Martin Ojeda remains a high volume shooter, but he is looking much more like Jordan Poole than Steph Curry this year with a lot of shots on target but not a lot of makes. And by not a lot I mean, sadly, zero.
  • Orlando City as a whole is taking shots from slightly closer to the goal but the team’s most frequent shooters are shooting from farther away than last year, and you do not need me as a math major to tell you that goalkeepers would prefer long shots over close shots.
  • Ercan Kara was a somewhat maligned striker for Orlando City, but he was pretty lethal when he got a shot off, putting more than two out of every five shots on frame and scoring at twice the MLS average on goals/shot. His 2023 shot volume is low on this chart because he left halfway through the season, but in his two years in MLS he scored at 21% and 22% on goals/shot, which put him in the upper echelon of shooters in the league.

Going back to McGuire and where he ranked in all of MLS, here is a heat map, but with the corresponding percentile ranks of Orlando City’s players among players who took at least 17 (hi Dad) shots (red to green scale — 0% (dark red, very low performance) to 100% (dark green, very good performance).

The comparisons between 2024 and 2023 are the most stark again in the columns involving goals, as in 2023 Orlando City’s most frequent shooters were scoring in the upper echelons of all MLS players, and this year there is much more red/orange than green for those with at least 17 shots. The other biggest differences of course surround who is taking the shots. Luis Muriel has arrived and has taken the most shots in 2024, but looking at his career shooting stats there is not a lot of evidence that being a lethal finisher is something in his skillset. Barbra Banda he is not, but then again nobody is Barbra Banda (except Barbra Banda), and expecting Muriel to change his playing style to be more of a finisher rather than initiator while adapting to a new league and teammates is lot to ask for someone who joined after the season began.

The bigger need for Orlando City is to get McGuire back on the field and to get Torres going, Facundo’s shots/90 minutes is down more than 50% from last season (largely owing to playing a lot of wingback over the last several weeks), and for someone who was in the 94th percentile in goals/shot in 2023 to have decreased their shot volume by so much is the opposite of what you want. Plus, Facundo is my son’s favorite player and he misses seeing Torres’ selfie celebration.

I want to end with a positive, however, and that is wrapped around the concept of regression to the mean. In the case of Orlando City this would actually likely be a positive regression as opposed to a negative one. During the last four years, MLS has been remarkably stable in terms of goals/shot on target (35%, 32%, 33%, 33%) and goals/shot (12%, 11%, 11%, 11%). Just because the league has been stable does not mean that Orlando City automatically will improve, but with the talent of the players on the squad and their history, I think it is more likely than not that Orlando City’s low performance so far in 2024 will come back up towards league average — much like a Major League Baseball player’s batting average on balls in play often evens out over time based on their level of skill.

Orlando City has talented players, including many who led the team to the best record in the team’s history last season, and I believe it is likely that we will start seeing small increases in goals/shot on target and goals/shot as the season progresses. I certainly hope we do, because it is much more fun when Orlando City masters this simple game and scores the ball, scores the ball, and scores the ball.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/14/24

Orlando City prepares to take on LAFC, Lions linked with Alan Saldivia, Orlando City B draws against Chattanooga FC, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Friday! I’m working for most of this weekend but am still looking forward to the absurd amount of soccer ahead of us. Both Orlando City and the Orlando Pride have games Saturday, and the 2024 Euros should give us some exciting matches from teams we don’t watch all too often. Let’s dive right into today’s links!

Orlando City Prepares for LAFC

The international break is over and Orlando City is back in action Saturday night for a home game against LAFC. It’s been a difficult season for the Lions so far, and they have been shut out in three of their past five games. Points have been hard to come by at home for Orlando and a match against one of the best teams in the Western Conference won’t make that any easier. With David Brekalo at the Euros, Rodrigo Schlegel is expected to start and it would be his 100th MLS appearance. Ramiro Enrique would also make his 50th appearance across all competitions as a Lion should he take the field.

Lions Linked Reportedly Bow Out of Bid to Sign Defender Alan Saldivia

With the MLS summer transfer window looming, a rumor surfaced of Orlando City making an offer to sign Uruguayan center back Alan Saldivia from Colo-Colo in Chile. The Lions reportedly offered $1.5 million for the 22-year-old, but that doesn’t reach the $2.2 million Colo-Colo wants at minimum. The Lions reportedly would not go higher. While center back isn’t exactly a pressing need for the Lions at this time, Saldivia would have given the team a young and talented player who could anchor the defense for years to come.

Orlando City B Drops Points in Disappointing Draw

OCB hosted Chattanooga FC and had to settle for a 2-2 draw after giving up a lead not once, but twice. The Young Lions had Chattanooga on the ropes late in the match, taking the lead just before the end of normal time, only to get punched in the mouth in stoppage time and then lose the penalty shootout. It was the second straight 2-2 draw at home for the Young Lions and they’re still on the hunt for their first win this month. OCB’s next game will be on the road against New York City FC II on Wednesday.

Getting Ready for the MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs

The MLS NEXT Cup playoffs kick off Saturday as the best teams across four age groups compete in a knockout format. Orlando City’s U-15 squad was recognized as one of the title contenders in its age group and will take on Real Salt Lake in the round of 32 on Saturday . The team also did well in MLS NEXT Flex, and Jakob Garcia, who has scored 18 goals in 21 games, is the kind of attacker who can make all the difference in knockout matches. Orlando’s U-17 team is capable of making a run as well, although it faces a tough first match on Sunday against the Philadelphia Union, which won the 2024 Generation Adidas Cup. It should be a fun tournament, and hopefully Orlando’s teams can advance far enough to be included in the games streamed on MLS Season Pass.

Free Kicks

  • Carl Robinson is back in MLS after Atlanta United hired him as an assistant coach. The 47-year-old played for Toronto FC and the New York Red Bulls to close out his playing career and also served as the head coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps.
  • Chicago Fire Designated Player Xherdan Shaqiri reportedly wants to return to Europe. The 32-year-old has been with the Fire since 2022 but hasn’t lived up to his billing and his contract is set to expire after this season.

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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