Connect with us

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

Orlando City Enjoyed the Best Summer Stretch in Team History

Orlando City climbed the table in the club’s best summer since joining MLS.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

June, July, August (plus, most of September), and the dog days of summer are officially in the rearview mirror and Orlando City is set to put a cherry on top of what was the best summer stretch in team history when they face Inter Miami tomorrow night at Exploria Stadium. As the season starts to wind down, I felt it was only necessary to take some time to examine the what we all just witnessed…the best summer in team history.

A quick Google search says that the season of summer in the U.S. traditionally starts June 21 on the summer solstice, which we will use as the starting point. I looked historically at the team’s performance from that point in time through the end of summer each season, a.k.a. today, Sept. 23. As a new expansion team in Major League Soccer, Orlando City dealt with the summer heat fairly well and earned 15 and 17 points in 2015 and 2016, respectively. The next two seasons, on the other hand, were much darker times to be a city fan, as Orlando City racked up seven and 10 losses in 2017 and 2018, respectively, during those two seasons. It does not take Sherlock Holmes-level detection skills to know that those summer stretches did not lead to postseason playoff berths. In 2019, the team amassed a decent 18 points during the summer, but only tallied 37 on the season overall.

It should not come as a surprise to any OCSC fan that the team’s best years of success have all come while Oscar Pareja has been at the helm. Prior to this season, the best summer stretch that the team had enjoyed was back in 2021 — also under Pareja’s reign — when the boys put up 23 points, setting a summer team record with six wins. Despite their great summer success, the 2021 Lions were unfortunately not able to keep their strong summer momentum going as they dropped four straight matches after Labor Day that year. Enter 2022, or as I like to call it “the summer of the trophy.” Technically speaking, in the MLS regular season, it was the team’s second best summer, with 20 points to their name. Orlando also happened to lift the U.S. Open Cup during that span last year, so there is an argument to be made that without the additional fixtures, the Lions may have been able to commit more resources to the regular season and would have wound up with more points. I will take the hardware!

This summer it has seemed as though Papi has pulled all the right strings at the right times. Orlando currently not only sits in second place in the Eastern Conference, but second overall in the Supporters’ Shield race and has only dropped two matches from June 21 to Sept. 23 while sporting a +6 goal differential. The Lions amassed 24 points during the summer this year.

Orlando City finding the back of the net more often than conceding makes for quite fun matches to enjoy. The two losses OCSC has picked up throughout the summer this season both have come on the road (at Real Salt Lake and at NYCFC), despite Orlando City earning an MLS-best 25 points away from Central Florida this year.

Orlando City did a great job getting through the hottest part of the calendar while locking up results left and right. Orlando has already secured a spot in the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year in no small part due to the amazing summer the team just enjoyed. As fall comes barreling at us and the MLS playoff home-field advantage race begins to heat up, the performance of the squad this summer should not be taken for granted as championships might not be won in June, July, or August, but poor performances can certainly ensure that they are lost.

Did you have a favorite moment or match from this summer? My favorite moment was what I am calling the Hail Ojeda Mary goal in Charlotte, and my favorite match was the electrifying 4-3 come-from-behind victory against the Columbus Crew. Let us know in the comments below your favorites, and as always, vamos Orlando.

Continue Reading

Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/23/22

Lions and Herons meet again, Carly Nelson is writing a book, NWSL free agency opens, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

Happy Founder’s Day, Mane Landers! It was on this day in 2014 that our fearless leader and Managing Editor Michael Citro started our first ever WordPress website. It’s safe to say that I’m sure The Mane Land has impacted your life as much as it has mine over the years, whether that be through daily reading or weekly podcasts. Cheers to Michael and all those who have come before me.

In my own personal news, I have been grinding away on the new EA FC 24 (the franchise formerly known as EA’s FIFA.) So far, the gameplay and updates have been great in my initial 15+ hours of play, and my online Ultimate Team is starting to really take its shape. I’m sure in a couple weeks that I’ll transition to a traditional Career Mode and take the Lions all the way to an MLS Cup and beyond.

Before we dive into today’s links, let’s all wish a very happy birthday to everyone’s favorite defensive midfielder, Wilder Cartagena!

Third Bout for Orlando City and Inter Miami

Orlando City and Inter Miami have already met twice this campaign. Sunday’s match will look to break the deadlock between the two rivals as both clubs have a victory to their name in this year’s series. In May, the Lions grabbed a 3-1 victory over the Fort Lauderdale-based club. The two sides met for a second time in the knockout round of Leagues Cup 2023 with Inter Miami taking the 3-1 result at DRV PNK Stadium. No matter the result this time around, Orlando City has already clinched a playoff spot, however, the Herons need every point they can get to attempt to do the same.

Carly Nelson, Goalkeeper and Author

It isn’t unheard of to learn that an athlete might have tried another sport before finding soccer, Orlando Pride goalkeeper Carly Nelson came from a background of gymnastics, tennis, basketball, and baseball before her father started a club soccer team with her in mind. While Nelson might have idolized USWNT legend Hope Solo as a child, she started her playing days as a forward, winger, and midfielder. Outside of protecting the Pride’s net, Nelson is spending time writing a book about her life growing up in Utah and the issues her family faced to hopefully help others that might find themselves in similar situations.

NWSL Opens 2024 Free Agency

The National Women’s Soccer League has officially opened the league’s unrestricted and restricted free agency periods. In accordance with the NWSL Players’ Association’s collective bargaining agreement, eligible free agents can begin negotiations for their 2024 Standard Player Agreements. Players eligible for unrestricted free agency include all who have at least five years of service within the NWSL and contracts expiring in 2023, while players eligible for restricted free agency include those who have at least three years of service. For the Orlando Pride, defender Kylie Strom is set to be an unrestricted free agent and midfielder Jordyn Listro is under restricted terms. Any club that currently holds the rights of a restricted free agent has a seven-day period to match an incoming offer from another club or else the player may sign with the new club under the terms of the offer.

USMNT’s Tyler Adams Nearing Return

Tyler Adams will not make his Bournemouth debut this weekend, but he could return as early as next week. Bournemouth’s manager, Andoni Iraola, provided a positive update on the U.S. Men’s National Team captain as he finishes up rehabbing a long-term hamstring injury.

“He has started this week at least to train partially with the group, so probably we can have a chance of having him next week or two weeks, something like this. Tyler is really close because once you start training partially with the group, it’s a matter of sensations, and if you are physically good enough. He has a very good physical base. So I think it will take not a long time to see Tyler with the team.”

Adams has not played since March after having a hamstring surgery. Even with a known injury, the 24-year-old still completed a move from Leeds United to Bournemouth following Leeds’ relegation to keep him in the top flight.

MLS Weekend Preview

Aside from the Florida derby, there are plenty of matches to be excited about around the league this weekend. Personally, I’m looking forward to catching a bit of the D.C. United and New York Red Bulls match. Manager Wayne Rooney’s club is right on the bubble in a tight Eastern Conference race while the Red Bulls can do themselves a huge service and come back into the playoff picture with a win. Out in the Western Conference, there is a real buzz around a Portland Timbers squad after a manager sacking. It could be a huge win for the Timbers and likely push them above the play-in round should they find a result against the Colorado Rapids.

Free Kicks

That’s all I have for you today, Mane Landers. I hope you all have a fantastic Saturday. Be safe on Sunday at the match. Stay hydrated and look out for those around you. Vamos Orlando!

Continue Reading

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!

Continue Reading