Orlando City gained a hard-fought road point, drawing the Colorado Rapids 1-1 Wednesday night. Facundo Torres gave the Lions the lead in the 22nd minute, but Gyasi Zardes equalized in the 65th minute. If not for some excellent goalkeeping by Pedro Gallese, it could’ve been a multi-goal loss. Regardless, Orlando City will be happy to get out with a point.
Here’s a look at how the Lions did individually.
GK, Pedro Gallese, 8 (MotM) — Gallese had arguably his best game of the season in this one. The Peruvian international had six saves on the night and four were absolutely spectacular. Without Gallese’s heroics, not only would the Lions have lost, they would’ve lost by multiple goals. But the goalkeeper kept his team in the game and allowed them to claim what could be a valuable point.
D, Kyle Smith, 5 — Smith had a difficult night defending Sam Nicholson and Michael Barrios. The left back allowed too much space too often and had trouble keeping up with the midfielders. Defensively, Smith ended the game with three tackles, three clearances, two blocks, and one interception. Going forward, he completed 75.9% of his 29 passes and had one key pass. He also completed a team high seven of his eight long balls out of the back. He did have a nice long throw that led to Torres’ goal. But allowing multiple key balls into the box, including for the equalizing goal, is what will be remembered from Smith in this game.
D, Robin Jansson, 6.5 — It wasn’t a great game by Jansson but it wasn’t a bad game either. The central defenders allowed Zardes behind too many times. It was Jansson allowing him through at the end of the game that forced Gallese into one of his great saves. The Swede had three tackles, one interception, two blocked shots, and one clearance. Offensively, he completed 86.4% of his 44 passes, one of which was a key pass, and five of his 10 long balls. In the final third, he recorded two off-target shots (one was blocked).
D, Antonio Carlos, 6 — Similar to Jansson, Carlos had a decent game but allowed Zardes behind too often. The main difference between the two defenders is that Carlos’ mistake resulted in a goal. Carlos did pick up the run through the middle, but he didn’t get ball side, allowing Zardes to get to the ball first and flick it past Gallese. He finished the game with one tackle, two interceptions, two blocked shots, and a team leading seven clearances. He completed 88.1% of his 59 passes, including one key pass, and completed three of his seven long balls. Additionally, he took one shot but it was off target.
D, Ruan, 5 — Like Smith, Ruan didn’t have his best game in Colorado. He was lucky not to be at fault for a goal in the 29th minute, when he left Jonathan Lewis wide open and wasn’t marking anyone in the attack. Fortunately, Lewis’ shot hit the post. Defensively, Ruan ended the game with one tackle and one clearance. He completed 81% of his 21 passes and didn’t have any key distributions.
MF, Benji Michel, 5.5 — This game showed the good and bad of Michel. In the opening minutes, the midfielder made a nice move to get past the defender and put a shot on target. While it wasn’t very dangerous for William Yarbrough, it made the goalkeeper make a save. However, bad Benji showed up in the 60th minute. After being sent through by Tesho Akindele, Michel either played a bad shot or bad pass to the back post that went out for a goal kick. That was the opportunity Orlando needed to convert to double the lead. Instead, moments later, the game was tied. Michel completed 80% of his 15 passes in this game and had one key pass. He took three shots, one of which was on target, and drew three fouls. Defensively, he contributed an interception and two clearances.
MF, Cesar Araujo, 6.5— Araujo quietly had a solid night for the Lions. The defensive midfielder led the team with six tackles, adding to his two clearances, one interception, and one blocked shot. He completed 88.6% of his 44 passes but didn’t have any key passes. However, he completed four of his six long balls and drew two fouls.
MF, Junior Urso, 6 — Urso wore the armband for this game in place of Mauricio Pereyra, who had most of the night off. He had 41 touches in the midfield and completed 92.6% of his 27 passes, none of which were key passes. He took two shots and put one on target. Urso also helped out defensively with a pair of tackles and drew four fouls while fouling twice.
MF, Facundo Torres, 6.5 — This was one of Torres’ better games since joining the club at the beginning of the season. His biggest contribution was his 22nd minute goal, in which he slammed a touch from Alexandre Pato under the crossbar for the opener. Apart from the goal, Torres completed 76.9% of his 26 attacking passes and had one key pass. The goal was one of two shots he took and the only one that was on target. He completed three dribbles in the game and drew four fouls, tied for the team lead.
MF, Alexandre Pato, 5.5 — Pato was better in this game than he’s been in recent weeks, actually putting a shot on target. He was credited with assisting the goal by Torres, but it was a lucky assist as it was a bad touch and Torres just happened to be in the right place to avoid a turnover. Pato only completed 57.1% of his seven passes but did have three key passes, a team high. His four crosses were second on the team in this game but only one of them was accurate.
F, Tesho Akindele, 5.5 — Akindele isn’t the goal-scoring type of forward for Orlando City and wasn’t one Wednesday night. He completed 69.2% of his 13 passes, but had one key pass on the flick to Michel that should’ve resulted in a great opportunity. However, that was his one real contribution to the game as he took only one shot and it was off target.
MF, Mauricio Pereyra (56’), 5.5 — The Lions’ captain got most of the day off, only playing the last 34 minutes. He completed 93.8% of his 16 passes and had one key pass. He also led the team with five crosses, but none of them were on target. Pereyra didn’t take any successful dribbles after coming on and was dispossessed a team-leading three times.
D, Rodrigo Schlegel (71’), 6 — Schlegel came on with 19 minutes to go as Oscar Pareja decided to go to a back five. While the Lions were looking to claim a point, this was also probably because of the poor defending by Smith and Ruan. Schlegel didn’t have any defensive stats, but completed 77.8% of nine passes and had one key pass going forward. He also had a run that drew a foul and set up an opportunity for the Lions late.
D, Michael Halliday (78’), 5 — Halliday came on for Ruan with 12 minutes to go and didn’t have much of an impact. He didn’t have any defensive plays and only had 10 touches on the ball. He completed 71.4% of his seven passes and had one off-target cross. His last three passes were particularly poor, with one putting Pereyra in a bad spot and two wasting potential opportunities in the attack to grab a late winner.
MF, Andres Perea (78’), N/A — During the same window in which Halliday came on, Perea replaced Torres in a defensive move. The midfielder only touched the ball five times and completed three of his five passes. Other than that, Perea didn’t have any impact on the game.
That’s how I saw Orlando City’s individual performances in the team’s 1-1 draw with Colorado. Let us know how you saw the game in the comments and don’t forget to vote for your Man of the Match below.
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2023 Orlando City Season in Review: Favian Loyola
The Homegrown midfielder spent most of the year with OCB but made his MLS debut in July.
Orlando City signed midfielder Favian Loyola to a Homegrown Player deal through 2025 on Dec. 2, 2022, with club options for 2026 and 2027. The OCSC Academy product became the club’s 13th all-time Homegrown signing and it was no surprise after his fantastic 2022 season. The Camp Lejeune, NC, was coming off a breakout year in the club’s youth system, which culminated with his selection to the 2022 MLS NEXT All-Star Game, in which he was named MVP. After starting the 2022 season on an academy contract, Loyola earned an MLS NEXT Pro deal, signing it last August. When he signed his Homegrown deal in December he became the first player to climb the club’s developmental ladder from the academy, to the current OCB setup in MLS NEXT Pro, to the first team.
Let’s take a look back at Loyola’s 2023 campaign, which was abbreviated due to surgery on his arm to remove a blood clot on Aug. 27.
Loyola played in just one MLS match with the Lions, making his first-team debut July 1 in a 3-1 home win over the Chicago Fire. The 18-year-old came on as a substitute in the third minute of stoppage time for Facundo Torres and is officially credited with one minute played, although that match went to nine minutes of stoppage. In that short amount of time he managed six touches and attempted six passes, completing all of them — one of them being a key pass. Loyola did not attempt a shot or record any defensive stats, but he did commit one foul, but he was not booked for it.
The bulk of Loyola’s 2023 season was spent with Orlando City B in MLS NEXT Pro, where he was a key player off the bench for Martin Perelman’s side. He appeared in 20 of the team’s 28 matches, starting seven, and logging 732 minutes. He scored two goals and added three assists, putting 10 of his 21 shots on target during the year. Loyola completed 80.3% of his passes with OCB, served up seven key passes and six successful long balls, and completed three crosses. He recorded four tackles and three interceptions, committed 11 fouls while drawing 10, and was booked three times.
With just the one MLS match to his credit, Loyola’s MLS debut against Chicago was his best game of the 2023 Major League Soccer Season. It was a memorable match, as he subbed on for Torres, who set the tone for the Lions with a brace that night, and it was also the game in which Mauricio Pereyra made his 100th appearance with Orlando City. Loyola made the most of his short amount of time on the pitch, despite committing a foul during his first minute of MLS play. He settled in and completed all six of his passes and created a scoring chance just seconds after his foul, when he sent a ball to Ramiro Enrique, although the Argentine had his shot attempt blocked from a tight angle.
2023 Final Grade
As Loyola came up short of the minimum total of 450 minutes played to receive a rating on our 1-10 scale, The Mane Land has no choice but to mark his grade as incomplete for the 2023 season. If his meteoric growth continues, Loyola will likely have much more than one appearance next season as his skills at passing and finding pockets of space translate well to the next level. He wasn’t able to return to the pitch after the surgery for his blood clot, but he should be ready to go for 2024.
With Loyola being just 18 years old and the club having him under contract, I would expect his role to be the same in 2024. He’ll be learning the ropes with OCB, playing most of the season with the club’s reserve side in MLS NEXT Pro, where he will continue to be a key player. However, if he continues to develop his game, he could push for more late substitute appearances with the first team or even get a start if the Lions draw a lower-league team in the U.S. Open Cup. One thing Loyola will need to work on is controlling the ball, as he turned the ball over 15 times with OCB in 2023.
Previous Season in Review Articles (Date Posted)
Orlando City to Play Friendly vs. Brazilian Side Flamengo
The Lions will face the Brazilian giants for the first time since November 2015.
Orlando City announced its first preseason match of the 2024 season this morning. The Lions will square off against Brazilian Serie A side CR Flamengo in a friendly on the afternoon of Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024 to kick off the team’s preparations for the 2024 MLS season. The match, which will take place at the club’s former home grounds at Camping World Stadium, will be OCSC’s second meeting with Flamengo and is part of the 2024 FC Series (formerly known as Florida Cup). Kickoff time will be officially announced later this month.
“This is both an exciting way to open the new year for our supporters and a great test for our team, as we look toward a 2024 that also includes Concacaf Champions Cup early on,” Orlando City SC Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Luiz Muzzi said in a club press release. “We’re excited to have the eyes of the Nação on Orlando during this time and are hopeful that this match will be the springboard for a very successful 2024 for our team and fans.”
“We are thrilled to return to our traditional January preseason window focused on top South American clubs,” FC Series / Florida Cup CEO Ricardo Villar said in the press release. “We look forward to delivering a first-class experience to Flamengo while in town and welcoming the Orlando City fans back to Camping World Stadium, where the club’s MLS campaign began back in 2015.”
The two sides met after the MLS season in 2015, when the Lions traveled to Rio de Janeiro on Nov. 15 of Orlando City’s inaugural season in Major League Soccer. Flamengo claimed a 1-0 win at the Maracana that day on a goal by Luis Antonio on a free kick that deflected off of Orlando City midfielder Darwin Ceren and left trialist goalkeeper Thierry Graca unable to recover. That match could have gone differently had Lions striker Bryan Rochez converted a first-half penalty, but he had a weak effort saved.
The match should serve as a good early test for the Lions, who are coming off their most successful season in Major League Soccer play and reached extra time all square with MLS Cup finalist Columbus despite being down a man in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Flamengo is one of Brazil’s most storied clubs, having won eight Serie A championships, three Copa Libertadores titles, four Copa do Brasil crowns, and one Intercontinental Cup.
“This preseason in the United States, including games with MLS (conference) semifinalists, is a great opportunity to grow the Flamengo brand inside the very important American market, where we will play in the 2025 FIFA Club World Cup,” Flamengo Vice President for Communications and Marketing Gustavo Oliveira said in the press release. “With the 2026 FIFA World Cup and the investments that are being made by the country, world football has in the United Stated, a new, enormous point of attention. Flamengo, as major European clubs, are alert to this and will, more and more, reinforce their presence in the country, may that be with work on social media focused on the American public, may it be by way of in-person events of the Flamengo brand, as this pre-season will be.”
Ticket information for groups and individuals can be found at FCSeries.com. Public tickets go on sale Tuesday, Dec. 12. Orlando City Season Ticket Members will have a match ticket presale and will be contacted directly by their ticket representative at a later date.
Lion Links: 12/7/23
Mauricio Pereyra and Orlando City part ways, Belgian club reportedly interested in Duncan McGuire, Marta scores in Brazil’s win, and more.
How’s it going, Mane Landers? It’s been another hectic week for me and I’m hoping things start to slow down as December rolls on. It’s hard to believe we’re already a week into the month. I’ve enjoyed this colder weather over the past few days though. Let’s dive right into today’s links from around the soccer world.
Mauricio Pereyra and Orlando City Part Ways
Orlando City captain Mauricio Pereyra will not be returning to the team for the 2024 season after he and the club mutually agreed to terminate his contract. The Uruguayan midfielder joined the Lions in the summer of 2019, going on to make 136 appearances across all competitions as a Lion. His 47 career assists were the most in club history and he led the Lions with 12 assists this past MLS season. Pereyra was a key part of Orlando’s turnaround over the past few years, and I’ll miss watching him break opposing back lines with his passing. That being said, his departure opens up some interesting possibilities in Orlando’s midfield. This could open the door for Martin Ojeda to fit in a bit more easily in the lineup, but the team also has an open Designated Player spot that could be used to bring in an attacking midfielder who can take the offense to another level. The club released a video thanking Pereyra for his time in Orlando, including some of his highlights and appreciation from teammates and staff.
Belgian Club Reportedly Interested in Duncan McGuire
Orlando City forward Duncan McGuire was one of the best young players in MLS this past year, so it’s not a surprise that European clubs are taking notice. Dutch and Belgian clubs reportedly had scouts at Orlando’s final game of 2023, and American Soccer Now‘s Brian Sciaretta stated that RWD Molenbeek is interested in McGuire.
The club has an American owner and is currently 11th in Belgium’s top flight after earning promotion last season. McGuire scored 13 goals in his rookie season and was a finalist for 2023 MLS Young Player of the Year. Hopefully the 22-year-old stays in Orlando for a while longer before making the jump to Europe.
Marta Scores in Brazil’s Win Over Nicaragua
The Orlando Pride’s Marta started and scored as Brazil’s captain in the team’s 4-0 friendly win over Nicaragua. She doubled Brazil’s lead in the 40th minute and came off in the second half for Pride teammate Adriana. Brazil then found two more goals and the defense secured the shutout in its final game of the year.
It was a nice way for Brazil to end the year after losing 2-0 Japan this past Sunday. Brazil has already qualified for next year’s Olympics after winning the 2022 Copa America and will shift its focus to doing well in the tournament after an early exit in this year’s World Cup.
Luis Rubiales Was Accused of Inappropriate Conduct With English Players
FIFA’s report of the Disciplinary Committee’s decision regarding former Spain federation president Luis Rubiales became public and England FA Chair England Debbie Hewitt’s testimony detailed inappropriate misconduct towards English players as well. According to Hewitt’s testimony, Rubiales seemingly forcefully kissed Lucy Bronze and stroked Laura Coombs face at the 2023 World Cup’s medal ceremony. FIFA stated that more severe sanctions than the three-year ban Rubiales was handed were considered.
- As a result of pyrotechnics being used by LAFC supporters group 3252, the club was fined $100,000 and 3252 will have all supporter privileges suspended pending a review by the club and LAFC.
- MLS unveiled the ball that will be used next season and I like the design well enough to want to kick it.
- UEFA announced that it is creating a health panel to gain insight on why ACL injuries occur so frequently in women’s soccer.
- In the DFB Pokal, third-division side Saarbruecken beat Eintracht Frankfurt to reach the quarterfinals.
- Newcastle United goalkeeper Nick Pope is estimated to miss the next four months after dislocating his left shoulder and requiring surgery.
- Kevin de Bruyne was named to Manchester City’s roster for the Club World Cup later this month, meaning he may make his return from a hamstring injury before the year’s end.
- Liverpool center back Joel Matip may miss the rest of the season after an ACL injury in his team’s win this past weekend.
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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