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

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Orlando City went on the road to take on FC Cincinnati and left empty-handed after a 1-0 defeat. Pedro Gallese provided stellar goalkeeping, but the Lions just couldn’t create enough chances on offense. Mauricio Pereyra, Joao Moutinho, and Robin Jansson were all absent from the starting lineup for various reasons, which definitely impacted how Orlando attacked in this match. Let’s dive into how each individual Lion performed in this road loss.

Starters

GK, Pedro Gallese, 8 (MotM) — If not for Gallese, the Lions would have been heading into halftime with a massive deficit to overcome. El Pulpo came up with spectacular saves time and time again, denying Nick Haggland from close range twice in the first half and Alvaro Barreal from the top of the area. Another save stopped Luciano Acosta’s deflected attempt, but Gallese couldn’t intercept the ensuing cross after the rebound and his clean sheet was spoiled. His eight saves were the most he’s had in a match this season and the loss doesn’t fall anywhere on his shoulders. His distribution was also solid, connecting on five of his eight long balls and completing 85% of his 20 passes.

D, Thomas Williams, 6 — The 17-year-old started as the team’s left back in place of Joao Moutinho. He had his work cut out for him at times against Brandon Vazquez and Brenner, but held his own with some defensive support from teammates. The Homegrown Player had three clearances and a tackle in 45 minutes of action. It was just his second start of the season and it showed on occasion as he completed just 83.3% of his 24 passes. Williams didn’t have any crosses and was accurate on one of his three long balls. He was subbed off at halftime for Antonio Carlos, ending his appearance on the road.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 6.5 — The Argentine center back returned from suspension and led his team with six clearances. He also blocked a shot from Luciano Acosta at the top of the box and had three interceptions and a tackle as well. Schlegel could’ve reacted a bit faster on Cincy’s goal, unable to locate Brenner in time after the initial shot. He had a whopping 16 long balls, connecting on six of them. Only 79.7% of his passes were successful, but he attempted a team-high 69 of them as he tried building out of the back and rotating the ball around the field. Schlegel also won three of his four aerial duels to give the Lions some supremacy in the sky. Schlegel’s performance showed that he can hold things down while Carlos continues to ease back into things.

D, Kyle Smith, 6.5 — Smith started at center back in the first half and then shifted to left back for the second half, showcasing some of the versatility that makes him so valuable for Orlando. Leading the team with five tackles, Smith had another strong game and also contributed five clearances and an interception. Regarding Cincy’s goal, Smith did a good job putting himself in a position to make one of his trademark goal-line saves, but ultimately wasn’t able to get a piece of Brenner’s shot. He also led the Lions with 85 touches and three key passes, including a nice through ball to Ercan Kara. His only cross didn’t find its man, but it did earn the Lions a corner kick late in the match. Smith was accurate on two his five long balls and 82.5% of 57 passes were successful.

D, Ruan, 5.5 — The right back needed to react quicker on Cincinnati’s goal. Acosta shot from outside the box, then raced past Ruan to get his own rebound and assist on the goal. In terms of defensive statistics, Ruan only had one clearance and needed to offer a bit more bite on that side of the ball considering the depleted back line. Although he completed 87.8% of his 41 passes and was accurate on two of his four attempted long balls, neither of his two crosses were successful as he continues to struggle in that area of his game. Ruan also had three unstable touches in a performance he will have to shrug off and move forward from.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 6.5 — Araujo had an efficient night, completing 91.2% of his 57 passes to help build possession for Orlando. He did struggle a bit when defending against Acosta, who used some fancy footwork to get two shots off while Araujo was on him. The second of those shots led to Cincy’s goal as Araujo chased down Acosta only for the Argentine midfielder to cut back and find room to shoot. It’s hard to fault Araujo for much of that though and he had two interceptions, two clearances, and a tackle. Offensively, his single shot was blocked but he did a decent job putting the ball into dangerous areas. Four of his six attempted long balls were accurate and one of his two crosses found their mark. This was also his fifth consecutive match without a yellow card, meaning one of his accumulated yellow cards this season is removed due to good behavior.

MF, Junior Urso, 5 — Like most of Orlando’s midfielders, Urso had a rough night. His poor touch trying to wrangle in a pass from Araujo caused the turnover that led to Cincy’s goal. The Bear didn’t have any shots during a match in which Orlando certainly could’ve used them. His only cross of the game was a key pass that gave Jake Mulraney a chance in the box, although far enough from goal that the resulting header needed better power and placement to go in. Urso had two crosses and defensively he contributed an interception and a clearance in 69 minutes on the field. He completed 23 of his 28 passes for an 82.1% completion rate and didn’t attempt any long balls. Urso was dispossessed four times in this one and may be feeling the fatigue of three starts within 10 days.

MF, Andres Perea, 5 — Perea had a tough time trying to fill Mauricio Pereyra’s role on offense. The 21-year-old completed 50 of his 62 passes for an 80.7% success rate that could’ve been a better as he turned the ball over and ended Orlando’s momentum. He had just one key pass and his only cross didn’t connect, although his lone long ball did. Perea was hesitant at times with the ball at his feet, particularly when Cincy closed down on him or when he needed to quickly find an open Lion. He had a good opportunity in the 33rd minute on a counter, but a bad touch while sprinting down the field allowed Cincy defender John Nelson to stop him. It wasn’t all bad though. Perea was defensively sound with two tackles, two clearances, and two interceptions, while also winning six of his seven aerial duels. It’s important to remember just how young Perea is and he had big shoes to fill. But, this match showed that he lacks the skillset to truly pull the strings of Orlando’s offense at this time.

MF, Jake Mulraney, 5 — The Irishman’s only shot came late in the first half from a good opportunity at the top of the box, but his headed attempt was easily handled by Celentano. Mulraney had a rough night in terms of distribution. His lone cross was blocked and he completed just 76.5% of his 17 passes and struggled to beat Ray Gaddis on the left. He did do a solid job dropping back to support Williams on defense though, recording three tackles, an interception, and a clearance. Mulraney was subbed off at halftime for Benji Michel, continuing their competition at the position.

MF, Facundo Torres, 5.5 — With Pereyra out, the stage was set for Torres to take the reins of the offense and drive it forward. While he led the Lions with five crosses, connecting on two of them, Torres wasn’t able to get much going on offense. His only shot was a low effort from distance that went wide of goal and neither of his long balls found their target. The Uruguayan had 55 passes at a solid 87.3% success rate, but just one key pass. His two tackles undersell a decent defensive performance, as he hustled all over the pitch to pressure Cincy from start to finish. Although he had 72 touches, Torres was often quickly swarmed by Cincy’s players when he had possession and was fouled a team-high four times. Torres showed plenty of fight in this match, but wasn’t able to make much of an impact on offense as the Lions were shut out.

F, Ercan Kara, 5.5 — The Austrian forward only had one shot in 62 minutes of action and that was a poor attempt that harmlessly trickled to Celentano for him to collect it. Kara only had 14 touches and eight passes at a 37.5% success rate, which is a testament to the lack of service and support he received throughout the match. He wasn’t able to really take advantage of set pieces either as Orlando didn’t have a corner kick until he was off the field. Three unstable touch didn’t help things for Kara, as his holdup play wasn’t what we’re used to seeing, although he won three of his four aerial duels. Kara spent his time on the field stranded on an island until he was subbed off for Alexandre Pato right before Cincy took the lead.

Substitutes

D, Antonio Carlos (45’), 7 — The Brazilian center back made his return after his injury in April. While he didn’t have any defensive stats, Carlos helped stabilize things for Orlando and completed all but one of his 31 passes for a strong 96.8% success rate. He also connected on all five of his long balls to pick out players downfield. His only shot was a headed effort sent just wide of goal after a cross from Alexandre Pato in the box. It’s nice to see Carlos back out there, even if his return wasn’t enough to galvanize Orlando towards a result.

MF, Benji Michel (45’), 4 — Michel came on for Mulraney, but made less of an impact with just 14 touches and 10 passes at an 80% success rate despite playing an entire half. Michel had no shots, crosses, or key passes, although he did contribute a tackle on defense. His speed is an asset, but he just wasn’t a factor in this match.

F, Alexandre Pato (62’), 4 — The 32-year-old was sloppy to say the least. Only one of his five crosses was accurate and some of his misses were bad enough that there was no chance of recycling them. None of his three long balls were successful either and he finished with eight passes at a 375% success rate. His only shot went over the bar and a bad touch squandered a golden opportunity in the box on a counter attack. Hopefully this performance was just an anomaly and his quality service returns in future games.

F, Tesho Akindele (69’), 5 — The Canadian forward is still on the hunt for his first goal contribution of the season. Akindele only had three touches and three passes in this match, which isn’t great from a forward you’re hoping adds a spark off the bench. The Lions had a slew of set pieces late in the match while trailing, but poor service prevented Akindele from really capitalizing on them.


That’s how I saw things in Orlando’s defeat at the hands of FC Cincinnati. Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments, and don’t forget to vote for the Man of the Match as well.

Polling Closed

PlayerVotes
Pedro Gallese43
Kyle Smith1
Antonio Carlos1
Cesar Araujo0
Other (Let us know who in the comments)0

Orlando City

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

How did your favorite Lions perform in a frustrating road draw against the Chicago Fire?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

A point is a point, but Orlando City is certainly capable of playing better than it showed in a frustrating 1-1 draw with the Chicago Fire. Despite Facundo Torres’ early goal, the Lions looked like they weren’t on the same page for large stretches of the game, and displayed plenty of sloppiness. That may be partly due to being on short rest, but it was a disappointing performance against a struggling Chicago team. Here’s how I rated the individual performances during this one.

Starters

GK, Pedro Gallese, 5 — Pedro did some good things, one of which was coming off his line early in the 20th minute and neatly playing the ball with his thigh to avoid handling it outside the area, while preventing a 1-v-1 opportunity. Unfortunately, he should have done better on Chicago’s goal, as the ball was hit with not much pace, although it was back against the direction he was moving. He finished with two saves, one clearance, and 77% passing accuracy.

D, Robin Jansson, 5 — Like his partners in defense, the Swede looked more and more ill-at-ease as the game wore on in his return from injury. He allowed Hugo Cuypers to get goal-side of him for the equalizing strike, and looked like he just fell asleep on the play. He had one tackle, one block, three clearances, one foul committed, and one yellow card on the defensive end, which will earn him a suspension for card accumulation, preventing his participation Saturday in New York. Going forward, he completed a dribble, drew a foul, provided a key pass, and passed with 85% accuracy, while showing some uncharacteristic sloppiness with the ball — something that plagued the entire team.

D, Wilder Cartagena, 5.5 Once again deployed as a center back, Cartagena had an okay night at the back, but we’ve seen better. For defensive statistics, he recorded two tackles, two clearances, one block, one interception, and one foul committed. His 80% passing accuracy wasn’t great though, and he looked uncharacteristically sloppy when trying to find his teammates and build out of the back. He was also partly at fault for Cuyper’s goal, as he failed to provide cover for David Brekalo, who stepped up to provide pressure on the ball. That counts as the major blemish on his night, alongside his passing accuracy.

D, David Brekalo, 6 The Slovenian was the best of the three center backs in this one. The highlight of his night was an outstanding tackle on Cuypers in the 68th minute to stonewall him and prevent what surely would have been a dangerous shot. He finished with three tackles, a team-high five clearances, one foul committed, two fouls drawn, one completed dribble, and a passing accuracy of 85%. I’d really like to see what a partnership of him and Jansson are able to do in a four-man back line, as we haven’t really had the chance to see that due to various injuries.

WB, Facundo Torres, 6 Torres grabbed the lone goal courtesy of one of the strangest goalmouth scrambles I’ve ever witnessed. Aside from that though, he didn’t carry a ton of danger himself, and instead did more work setting others up for chances. His highlight in that regard was serving up a cross on a platter for Luis Muriel that the latter headed directly at the goalkeeper just moments before Chicago’s equalizer. We know he’s capable of creating for himself and scoring, and he continues to look largely neutered in the wingback role he’s being asked to play, though he should have ended Wednesday night with a goal and an assist. Like most of OCSC’s other players, Torres struggled with sloppiness on the ball at times, and his distribution wasn’t his best. He was still able to provide three key passes, take three shots (one on target, two blocked), and passed with 83% accuracy. He contributed two tackles on defense, but the Lions need him at the other end of the field.

MF, Nico Lodeiro, 5.5 Lodeiro, like most of the team, had an evening that he’ll want to forget. He chipped in on the defensive side with two tackles, an interception, and a clearance, but it just wasn’t happening for him going forward, aside from a well-timed pass to send Ivan Angulo behind the defense on a play that would draw a penalty 99 times out of 100. He took one shot that was blocked and drew a foul, but the big issue was his passing. His 84% success rate wasn’t awful, but on several occasions he delivered the ball directly to a Fire player (he had plenty of company in doing that) and just couldn’t seem to get on the same page as his teammates. One of his better passes was to Torres in the first half on a play that was ultimately called back for offside against the Uruguayan.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 6 Cesar did pretty much everything he could have been expected to from a defensive standpoint. He finished with a team-high four tackles, was second on the team with four clearances, and also had an interception and a block. He drew four fouls while not committing any of his own, but his 84% passing accuracy left something to be desired. Like most of his teammates, he just looked out-of-sync on several occasions, delivering the ball straight to an opponent, and it was more noticeable due to how safe he typically is with the ball.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 6.5 (MotM) Angulo had a lively evening, and was involved in almost everything Orlando did well going forward. His combination down the right with Muriel in the first half led to Torres’ goal, and just after the half hour mark he intercepted a ball near midfield and bore down on goal, but seemed to be caught between passing and shooting, and the ball he ended up playing went harmlessly behind for a goal kick. He should have won a penalty kick after evading Chris Brady and being fouled from behind by Federico Navarro, but no decision was forthcoming. His night finished with two shots (one off target, one blocked), four completed dribbles, two key passes, two fouls drawn, and 91% passing accuracy.

WB, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 5.5 This formation doesn’t seem to suit Dagur Dan’s attacking skills. He’s versatile and played well as a right back last year, but the in-between nature of the wingback role looks like its doing him more harm than good. He was too slow to track Arnaud Souquet’s run, who crossed for Cuypers to fire home, and that’s the big blip against him in this one. He finished with one tackle and two clearances defensively, while completing a dribble and passing with a team-best 95% accuracy on offense. I think he’d really benefit from either being a fullback or a midfielder, instead of a mix between the two.

F, Martin Ojeda, 4.5 Asked to play as the second striker alongside Muriel, things just weren’t happening for Ojeda. Whether it was a ball that wouldn’t fully bounce his way, or a pass that was just off the mark, it was yet another case of so close, yet so far. He finished with one tackle, one foul committed, one foul drawn, and 85% passing accuracy. The lack of key passes or shots is indicative of the difficulties he had, and you simply have to get more out of a Designated Player. Given how involved Ramiro Enrique was during his short time on the field, Ojeda’s night is that much tougher to swallow.

F, Luis Muriel, 5.5 — Like most of his teammates, it was a frustrating performance from Muriel. He did some good things and showed plenty of flashes of the quality that he has, but ultimately wasn’t able to impact the scoresheet. His night was perhaps best summed up by his powerful 77th minute header, that would surely have been a goal if he’d put it anywhere but straight at the goalkeeper. He also was maddeningly reluctant to shoot. I’m all for a striker who wants to create for others, but sometimes you can’t look for the perfect opening and just need to hit the damn ball. He recorded two tackles, one clearance, one shot (on target), two fouls drawn, and 84% passing accuracy.

Substitutes

F, Ramiro Enrique, (79′), N/A Enrique came on for Muriel with just over 10 minutes to play, and looked lively and dangerous during his time on the field. He made an excellent run from midfield as the game wound down, but fired his shot a bit off target. He finished with one completed dribble, one off-target shot, and completed the lone pass that he attempted.

D, Rafael Santos, (79′), N/A Santos entered the fray in place of Ojeda, and did what was asked of him. He recorded one tackle, one clearance, one foul drawn, and a key pass, while accurately delivering 75% of his passes to their destination.

MF, Kyle Smith, (90′ + 2), N/A Smith subbed on for Dagur Dan with the game in its final stages. He completed one of his three passes, sending the other two directly to a Fire player but helped Orlando get out of Chicago with a point.

MF, Jeorgio Kocevski, (90′ + 2), N/A Kocevski came on for Torres in the dying stages of the game. He completed the one pass he attempted and helped the Lions see out the remaining time on the clock.


That’s how I saw the individual performances from a largely frustrating evening in Chicago. Feel free to voice your thoughts on how the players did down in the comments, and be sure to vote in our Man of the Match poll. Vamos Orlando!

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Orlando City

Orlando City at Chicago Fire: Five Takeaways

What did we learn from Orlando City’s disappointing draw with the Chicago Fire?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City traveled to the Windy City with a good chance to take home all three points. That wasn’t the case, as the Lions allowed a second-half goal and drew the Chicago Fire 1-1 at Soldier Field. It wouldn’t be an Orlando City match if there wasn’t controversy involving the referee and video review, but we’ll get to that soon enough. What follows are my immediate takeaways from a sloppy and frustrating draw on the road.

Ugly Goals Still Count

It’s been a hot minute since Facundo Torres has scored a goal, but he didn’t have to wait too long in this match to get back on the board. Ivan Angulo and Luis Muriel combined in the attacking midfield to get into the final third with the ball finding Torres in the box. At that point he took too many touches, got closed down, and it became a scrum in front of goal. After the ball pinged in, out, and all around, Torres found himself climbing off the pitch, only to take squib of a shot while falling down that somehow got through the tangle of legs and went into the bottom left corner of the goal. It was ugly, but exactly what Orlando City needed to get things started.

Defensive Holes Evident

I will admit that my prediction was wrong. I thought that the return of Robin Jansson would mean that Oscar Pareja would go back to the 4-2-3-1 formation he usually deployed. Instead, he stayed with the 3-5-2 he’s used the last several matches, with Jansson playing on the left of the three-man back line. Chicago is not a very good attacking team, but the Fire consistently found space in the box, and made Orlando City pay for it in the 70th minute. Good thing there wasn’t a video review decision that impacted the match. Oh wait.

Another Brick in the Wall

Orlando City was once again the victim of poor officiating and inconsistent application of video review in calling penalties. Angulo took a nice pass from Nico Lodeiro, slipped between two Chicago defenders, made his way into the box, made a move around the keeper, and then was fouled…twice. The keeper clipped him, and then the defender fouled him from behind. I thought it was a penalty, the commentators on Apple TV+ thought it was a penalty, and everyone except Fire fans, PRO referees, video assistant referee Edvin Jurisevic, and Don Garber thought it was a penalty. Unfortunately, it’s just another example of the “if it helps Orlando City, it’s not a foul/penalty” that we have seen so many times this season. Not only should it have been a penalty, it should have been a sending off for denial of a goal-scoring opportunity.

Poor Passing

Much of the match, Orlando City looked like a team not on the same page. Too many times players tried to be too clever when making a pass. Too many times the ball was played into spaces allowing a turnover. Too many explicit turnovers. Too many heavy passes, too many light passes — none of it what we expect from this team. Don’t let the 83% team passing percentage fool you. This was a disorganized team when in possession playing against Chicago.

Tired Legs or Tired Minds?

This match was Orlando City’s sixth match of the month. That is a lot of games. I’m not certain that the team looked tired when running, but as I noted above, the passing wasn’t good and that can come from your brain being tired. A tired player will try to do something they shouldn’t, thinking they can, or take too long to do what they should do. How many times did a player take way too much time to even think about taking a shot? Orlando City usually generates plenty of chances on goal. Against Chicago, the Lions only managed eight shots with two on goal. It was all just not crisp enough.


Those are the things I observed in the once-again frustrating draw against the Fire. Let us know in the comments below what stood out to you. As always, vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/30/24

Orlando City draws on the road, Duncan McGuire called up, Grace Chanda will reportedly sign with the Orlando Pride, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

For those of you who watched Orlando City’s game Wednesday night, I hope the universe repays you with good fortune in some way today. The week rolls on though, as we get ready for more Orlando soccer this weekend, along with international friendlies around the world to enjoy. For now though, let’s get to the links!

Orlando City Draws Against the Chicago Fire

The Lions went on the road and had to settle for a 1-1 draw against the Chicago Fire. Neither goal was anything to write home about in a match that was highlighted by sloppy play and yet another controversial refereeing decision the Lions had to deal with. A draw on the road while on short rest generally isn’t the worst result in the world, but it was a poor performance from the Lions. They’ll aim to get back in the winning column this Saturday when they travel to play the New York Red Bulls.

Duncan McGuire Called Up For Training Camp

Orlando City forward Duncan McGuire was one of 25 players called up for the United States Men’s Olympic Soccer Team’s training camp ahead of a friendly with Japan on June 11. McGuire has earned his spot on the team during a solid second season with the Lions that has included five goals. Columbus Crew goalkeeper Patrick Schulte, Koln forward Damion Downs, and LA Galaxy defender Jalen Neal are a few of the other notable players called up. Nashville SC center back Walker Zimmerman is the only player over 23 that was called up for this camp.

Grace Chanda Will Reportedly Join the Pride

An agreement was reportedly reached between the Orlando Pride and Zambian attacker Grace Chanda for her to join the club on a deal through 2025, with an option for 2026 as well. It would be a free transfer, but she would not join the Pride until after the Olympics. Chanda was named to the 2022 Women’s Africa Cup of Nations Best XI and was also on the shortlist for the 2022 Best CAF Women’s Player of the Year Award. The 26-year-old did not play in last year’s World Cup due to an illness, but has come off the bench in Madrid CFF’s past two games. The Pride are having a historic year and Chanda should help them push for a title if she does end up joining her international teammate, Barbra Banda.

Getting to Know Emily Sams

Pride defender Emily Sams is the latest player to field questions as part of the club’s video series for fans to learn more about the players. Sams spoke about the disappointment in how the team’s season ended last year after missing out on the playoffs on a goal differential tiebreaker. She also talked about the team’s aspiration to not only make the playoffs but contend for a title this year. It’s her second season with the Pride and she’s been a key reason why Orlando has done so well so far. Sams discussed what the team’s atmosphere is like, as well as how she likes to spend time outdoors exploring Orlando’s many lakes when not on the field.

Free Kicks


That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a wonderful Thursday and rest of your week.

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