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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. New England Revolution: Player Grades and Man of the Match

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Orlando City hosted the New England Revolution Saturday night in Exploria Stadium. The Revolution were riding a six match winless streak, and the best cure for that is playing Orlando City. Despite having more possession and more shots, the Lions were once again unable to find the back of the net, whereas New England finished three of their five shots on goal.

Let’s take a look at how each Lion performed individually in the 3-0 loss.

Starters

GK, Pedro Gallese, 6.5 — One thinks that a keeper has a bad match when giving up three goals. I’ll grant it’s not great, but when the defensive positioning allows runs in between defenders on all three of the goals, the keeper is not at fault. The only goal he even had a chance of stopping was the third one, and he got a hand on it, but it wasn’t enough. Gallese had to make a big save in the fifth minute of stoppage time on a long distance shot to prevent things from getting worse.

D, João Moutinho, 6 — Joao did well getting into the attack and not giving up much on the defense in the first half, though he did have a giveaway in Orlando’s defensive third in the 10th minute but nothing came of it for New England. He was good on his crosses with nine total on the night, though none were converted. Defensively, he only made one clearance, but was active up and down the right wing. Of course, the Revolution’s attack did come up his side of the pitch.

D, Robin Jansson, 6 — Jansson was his normal steady self for most of the game. Throughout the match he made his usual runs into the offense and completed four of six long balls in the match. He also had three tackles, one interception, and two clearances. It was a typical match for the Beefy Swede.

D, Antônio Carlos, 5.5 — This was definitely not one of Carlos’ better outings for Orlando City. Like Jansson, he wasn’t able to clog up the middle of the box to defend the scoring runs of New England. He also earned a yellow card in the sixth minute of play, though that didn’t seem to hamper his play. In the second half his failed clearance attempt resulted in the corner that produced New England’s third goal. This was not a great one from Orlando City’s best center back.

D, Ruan, 5.5 — Ruan did Ruan things in the first half. He made fast runs up the right side, and had some crosses that mostly were not great. There was a one-time cross he made that wasn’t too bad, but that’s probably because he didn’t have time to think about it. On the defensive side, he wasn’t able to close down the cross on New England’s first chance, but it didn’t hurt the Lions. He wasn’t able to recover when Matt Polster ran in behind Mauricio Pereyra with the two Orlando center backs pulled to the left by an overload on that side.

MF, César Araújo, 7 (MOTM) — Araujo had the most difficult job on the pitch — keeping Carles Gil in check — and for the most part he did. He was like a shadow on Gil the entire first half, making life difficult for one of the league leaders in assists. He drew two fouls, had a tackle, and an interception. He finally earned a yellow card in the 85th minute, despite getting away with plenty of close calls throughout the match. The yellow was deserved, but many of his other defensive plays were timed perfectly. Playing against Gil is tough, and that is why he earns our Man of the Match.

MF, Júnior Urso, 5.5 — Urso was not his most crisp in the first half. He wasn’t bad, but like others there were some forced passes that didn’t work, and neither of his shots were on target. When I say his passing wasn’t crisp, I mean he had a 79.2% passing rate. Part of that can be attributed to how compact New England was in defense, but Urso is one of the players who needs to make the adjustment and be better.

MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 6 — Pereyra was his usual self in the midfield. He directed everything, though he did have a few forced passes that didn’t work out. None of his three shots were on target. New England’s shape stopped up things inside their box, making it tough to work the ball inside. Still, he did have three key passes and looked good after going off injured in the last match against D.C. United.

MF, Facundo Torres, 6.5 — Torres played well off of Pereyra in the attack. He also did well on the left side with Moutinho, though he wasn’t able to get a shot off in the first half. That did change shortly into the second half as he got a shot off in the 49th minute, though it went wide right. He added another shot that hit the woodwork in the 60th minute, perfectly encapsulating the futility that is Orlando City’s offense. Still, with two key passes and four crosses, the Young DP was a bright spot in Orlando City’s lackluster offense.

F, Benji Michel, 6 — I thought Michel had an okay match. He was slightly more dangerous than usual, putting in a nice ball to Pato in the 31st minute that Pato should have finished. He earned a corner in the 36th on a nice run from a Jansson long ball, and he had a header that went wide right in the 63rd minute. It wasn’t a spectacular appearance either in a good or bad way, and for Michel that isn’t a bad thing. Unlike so many of his teammates, he did actually get a shot on target.

F, Alexandre Pato, 6 — Pato was a mixed bag in the first half. He gave up too many balls per usual, but also made some silky smooth passes into teammates that should have resulted in better chances. He had a particularly nice ball into Torres in the box in the seventh minute, but like others it amounted to nothing. His best opportunity came in the 33rd minute when he took a ball off of Urso’s foot for a great shot that was his only one on target out of six total attempts. His 90th-minute free kick went well over the crossbar.

Substitutes

MF, Iván Angulo (58’), 5 — Angulo came on for Urso and only had 16 touches, completing 84.6% of his 13 passes and recorded one interception. The new winger didn’t register a shot attempt or a key pass in more than half an hour, although we can cut him some slack given it was his first appearance with the club.

D, Kyle Smith (76’), 6 — Smith came on for Ruan. He had 14 touches, including two crosses (neither accurate), one tackle, and one interception. El Soldado didn’t play badly, but he wasn’t able to spark any type of opportunity for his club either. He completed all eight of his pass attempts.

F, Nicholas Gioacchini (76’), 6 — The young USMNT player came on for Pereyra, though not in a like-for-like situation. Gioacchini did manage to get a shot off, and made one interception on defense. He completed all four of his pass attempts.

F, Tesho Akindele (76’), 6 — Akindele came on for Michel, and repeated what his teammate was able to do by getting a shot on target and winning an aerial. That is all on just nine touches in the match.


That’s how I saw the individual performances in a very forgettable outing for the Lions. Let me know your thoughts in the comments and be sure to vote for your Man of the Match below.

Polling Closed

PlayerVotes
Alexandre Pato1
César Araújo17
João Moutinho0
Mauricio Pereyra1
Someone else (tell us in the comments)6

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. CF Montreal: Three Keys to Victory

What does Orlando City need to do to secure all three points in the home opener against CF Montreal?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City will host CF Montreal in the club’s first match of the 2024 MLS regular season this Saturday night. The Lions are coming off the Concacaf Champions Cup match against Cavalry FC Wednesday night. Orlando City will want to get things started the right way as expectations and aspirations are higher than ever for the club.

What does Orlando City need to do to secure a victory in the home opener against their Canadian opponents?

Roster Management

Orlando City has four matches in 11 days — the previously mentioned Wednesday match against Cavalry in Canada, the match against Montreal on Saturday, the return match against Cavalry in Orlando next Tuesday, and then a trip to Ft. Lauderdale to take on Inter Miami. That is quite a start to competitive play in 2024.

Because of the schedule congestion, Oscar Pareja will need to rotate players. That means we’re not likely to have the preferred starting 11 as much as any of us will like. Kyle Smith, Michael Halliday, Jeorgio Kocevski, and others will likely see playing time. How well Pareja manages when to use which players, and for how long, will determine not just the result of this match against Montreal, but for each of the other matches as well.

Defensive Communication

Rodrigo Schlegel is serving a suspension in this first league match and will not be available. That means Orlando City’s newest center back, David Brekalo, will probably get the start alongside Robin “The Beefy Swede” Jansson. Having a good center back pairing is absolutely essential to the success of any defense. We know that because once Jansson and former Lion Antonio Carlos worked together for a while, they became an absolute fortress on the back line.

Now, Jansson will need to build the same chemistry with Brekalo if the Lions want to maintain their position as one of the best defenses in the league. With Schlegel unavailable, there is no question that Jansson and Brekalo will have the opportunity to start building that relationship. Hopefully, it will be good enough to keep Montreal — especially Josef Martinez — out of the goal.

Keep Torres Scoring

Facundo Torres had a great preseason. Orlando City’s new owner of the No. 10 shirt needs to keep doing the same. He’ll need to score goals, provide assists, and create problems for Montreal’s defense. Traditionally, Montreal has put out a three-man back line. While that means it’ll be a five-man back line when Orlando City has the ball, during changes of possession there should be space for Torres to get free and get scoring opportunities.

If Montreal smartly tried to contain Torres, then it will have to deal with Duncan McGuire, Nico Lodeiro, and Ivan Angulo. Orlando City’s offense has the potential to score quite a few more goals this season, and it all starts Saturday night against Montreal. Get two on the board and I think it will mean three points in the standings.


That is what I will be looking for Saturday night. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 2/22/24

Orlando City beats Cavalry FC, Lions receive General Allocation Money for Junior Urso’s rights, USWNT gets ready for Argentina, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

How’s it going, Mane Landers? It’s nice to start the morning fresh off of a huge win and I’m hoping that becomes a regular occurrence this year. Hopefully the work week has been kind to you as we ride the high of the Concacaf Champions Cup into Orlando City’s first game of the MLS season this weekend. For now, let’s dive into today’s links from around the soccer world.

Lions Win in Concacaf Champions Cup Opener

Orlando City kicked off its Concacaf Champions Cup campaign with a solid 3-0 win against Cavalry FC in Canada. Some players did better playing on the turf of Starlight Stadium in British Columbia than others, but the Lions ultimately did well on the road to make things less stressful for themselves for the second leg on Tuesday in Orlando at 6 p.m. Orlando’s offense showed little rust and the defense did its part in its first competitive match of 2024. Before the match, Head Coach Oscar Pareja announced that Robin Jansson will serve as the team’s captain this year, so it’s nice to see his tenure start with a clean sheet.

Junior Urso Signs With Charlotte FC

Orlando City received $50,000 in 2025 General Allocation Money from Charlotte FC in exchange for Brazilian midfielder Junior Urso’s right of first refusal. This transaction cleared the way for Urso to sign with Charlotte, joining on a deal through 2024, with an option for 2025. The Bear became a Lion back in 2020 and was an integral part of Orlando’s transformation under Head Coach Oscar Pareja that included winning the 2022 U.S. Open Cup. The 34-year-old impressed as a trialist with Charlotte during the preseason and should give Dean Smith’s side a veteran presence both on and off the field. While it’s never fun seeing a fan favorite playing for another Eastern Conference foe, I wish nothing but the best for Urso and hope he gets a warm reception when Charlotte visits Orlando this season on Sept. 18.

MLS Coaching Changes for 2024

There was a considerable amount of coaching turnover in MLS since last season, adding some intriguing storylines for this year. After a rough time in Miami, Phil Neville has a chance at redemption with a Portland Timbers side that narrowly missed out on the playoffs last year. The Colorado Rapids’ Chris Armas, D.C. United’s Troy Lesesne, and the New England Revolution’s Caleb Porter are other familiar faces in new places who could impress. As for those new to the scene, Dean Smith joined Charlotte from England, while Sandro Schwarz is now at the helm of the New York Red Bulls after years in Germany and Russia. I’m also interested to see how long it takes for John Herdman to turn things around with Toronto FC.

Analyzing Argentina Ahead of USWNT Clash

After a dominant 5-0 win over the Dominican Republic, the United States Women’s National Team will take on Argentina tomorrow in the Concacaf W Gold Cup’s group stage. The U.S. has won the past four meetings between the past two nations, and Argentina is coming off of a scoreless draw with Mexico. The Orlando Pride’s Mariana Larroquette spearheads an Argentine attack that can be a bit inconsistent when it comes to creating chances. That being said, Vanina Preininger can pull strings from the midfield and Argentina has multiple players capable of scoring from distance. Laurina Oliveros will likely start in goal after her clean sheet in the opener, and the defense also includes Kansas City Current center back Sophia Braun.

Free Kicks

  • The Orlando Pride’s Rafaelle and Adriana both started in Brazil’s 1-0 win over Puerto Rico.
  • The LA Galaxy signed Ghanaian winger Joseph Paintsil as their third Designated Player. The 26-year-old joins from Genk in Belgium and signed a contract with the Galaxy through 2027.
  • The Revolution beat Panama’s Independiente 1-0 on the road in the Champions Cup opener for both teams.
  • The new changes to MLS’ competitive rules, such as in-stadium VAR announcements and off-field treatments, have been postponed amid the league’s referee situation.
  • The United Soccer League announced that all 47 of the teams under its umbrella will take part in this year’s U.S. Open Cup.
  • Bayern Munich officially announced that Thomas Tuchel will leave once this season is over. Although Bayern is second in the Bundesliga standings, it’s lost its past three games, including a defeat to Lazio in the Champions League.
  • Porto scored a stunning goal in stoppage time to shock Arsenal in the UEFA Champions League.

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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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Cavalry FC, Concacaf Champions Cup: Final Score 3-0 as Torres Brace Leads Lions to Road Win

The Lions are in the driver’s seat after a comprehensive victory over Cavalry FC in western Canada.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Duncan McGuire opened the scoring and Facundo Torres added a brace to lead Orlando City SC to a comfortable 3-0 win over Cavalry FC at Starlight Stadium in Langford, British Columbia in the first leg of Concacaf Champions Cup play. Orlando scored their first road goals in the competition and have a huge advantage heading into next week’s return leg.

“It’s very good for the team. The clean sheet is very important for us and scoring three goals is a good score for returning home,” Orlando City Assistant Coach Diego Torres said after the match. “Cavalry is a good team. The Canada league is a good league. All of our team respects all rivals. The team came here serious for the game.”

With Oscar Pareja sidelined due to suspension for a red card after the second leg against Tigres in 2023, Diego Torres’ lineup was made up mostly of presumed starters for the 2024 season, with Pedro Gallese starting in goal behind a back line of Kyle Smith, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, and Dagur Dan Thorhallsson. Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena took their usual spots in the central midfield behind an attacking line of Ivan Angulo, Martin Ojeda, and Facundo Torres with McGuire up top. Presumed starters Rafael Santos, Nico Lodeiro, David Brekalo, and Luis Muriel were not in the lineup, with the latter two new Lions not in the matchday squad.

Center back Daan Klomp was positioned on the line and was able to get in front of Araujo’s header on frame. On the ensuing corner, Schlegel got under his header and sent it well over the bar.

Cavalry’s defense again denied a shot off a corner moments later. This time it was Callum Montgomery knocking it away. The Lions recycled and a shot appeared to go out off the goalkeeper but a goal kick was awarded.

Araujo again got forward in the 13th minute and the defense again blocked it, although this time it was outside the six-yard box rather than on the line. Moments later, McGuire had a go from a tough angle on the left but he mishit his shot and it went out on the other side for a throw-in. Torres then fired from the top of the box in the 19th minute but his effort was always rising and sailed well over the bar.

The Lions found the breakthrough moments later. Cartagena sent the ball wide to Angulo on the left and the Colombian sent Ojeda down the flank. The Argentine sent a great cross into the area and McGuire redirected it past Cavalry goalkeeper Marco Carducci to make it 1-0 in the 21st minute.

Orlando stayed on the front foot and in the 27th minute it was Angulo dancing through the defense and sending a lethal-looking cross through the six. Unfortunately, none of his teammates were making runs on the far side and it skipped harmlessly through.

Cavalry then nearly fashioned something out of nothing when a ball into the area nearly found Sergio Camargo right in front. However, the ball got through to Gallese, who scooped it up.

Thorhallsson, who had a terrific first half, nearly sent in Angulo in the 28th minute on a quick counterattack and then sent a dangerous cross over Carducci in the 32nd that just needed a touch from a teammate but didn’t get one.

No matter though, the Icelandic fullback got his assist in the 38th minute. Tucking inside for much of the night, he sent Torres wide on the right. The Uruguayan cut inside from the right at the top of the box and sent a shot on target. The ball bounced off the artificial turf in front of Carducci, who got a hand on it but couldn’t knock it wide of the post. Torres’ strike made it 2-0.

Cavalry won a late corner but sent the cross right at Gallese at the end of the half and that was it as far as the scoring chances. The Lions took their 2-0 advantage to the locker room.

At the break, the Lions held the advantage in shots (9-2), shots on target (3-0), passing accuracy (97.3%-73.5%), and corners (3-2).

Cavalry started the second half with more energy. Smith did well to win a goal kick to thwart an early attack and Schlegel got a head to a dangerous cross in the 49th to clear Orlando’s lines.

Orlando’s first decent chance of the second period came in the 53rd minute when Araujo stole a ball in the attacking third on the press. He found Ojeda on the left and the Argentine sent a cross in front, however, the defense again cut it out for a corner. The Lions couldn’t do anything with the set piece.

The game got a little chippy after that, with Cavalry’s Charlie Trafford picking up a yellow card for stepping on McGuire’s foot during a challenge. Moments later, a worse-looking challenge by Trafford on Thorhallsson went unpunished with a second yellow, despite being a worse foul.

Torres was then taken down on a rough challenge by Montgomery, who was booked. Ojeda went for goal from distance on the set piece, but Carducci made the save at the hour mark.

Gallese nearly got crossed up in the 61st minute when a fluttering ball fooled him and he had to fight it off to avoid an embarrassing situation. That was the start of a couple of chances for the hosts, sandwiching the Orlando City debut of Lodeiro, who subbed on for Ojeda.

In the 62nd minute, Cavalry created something off a throw-in, sending a ball into the box for Jesse Daley, who sent his weak effort right at Gallese on a wasted opportunity. Moments later, Jansson conceded a free kick and Cavalry nearly paid it off. Klomp got his head to the service but sent it just inches over the crossbar.

Cartagena nearly scored a surprising goal in the 68th minute when he sent a chip towards Carducci’s goal. The Cavalry goalkeeper was backpedaling and had to tip the shot over his crossbar.

Five minutes later, substitute Ramiro Enrique set up Lodeiro in the box but the midfielder sent his shot off the crossbar in the 73rd minute. Angulo followed with a shot that was blocked by the defense for a corner.

Two minutes later, the Lions put the game to bed. A fantastic sequence set up Torres’ brace. Enrique did well to send Angulo in behind the defense on the left. The Colombian sent a perfect cross to the back post and Torres sent a diving header off of Carducci’s hands and in to make it 3-0 in the 75th minute.

Cavalry got back on the front foot for a few minutes after the third goal. Camargo sent a shot right at Gallese in the 79th minute

Orlando should have scored again seconds later. Another excellent buildup play from Enrique and Angulo ended up on Araujo’s foot right in front of goal, but the midfielder couldn’t dig it out of his feet and the defense arrived to knock it away.

A poor giveaway by substitute Rafael Santos on the left sideline gave Cavalry a chance in the 82nd minute. The cross in front was deflected out to the top of the area. Diego Gutierrez smashed a shot toward goal, but Felipe took one for the team and blocked it out for a corner. Klomp was nearly sent in behind on the recycle of the ensuing set piece but the defender was either offside or was judged to have fouled Gallese and Orlando was awarded a free kick. Gallese then scooped up a one-hopper off a shot from a tight angle to his right in the 88th minute.

That was the last half chance for either side and the Lions saw out three minutes of injury time to claim their first Concacaf Champions Cup victory.

The final statistics were more flattering for the hosts than the halftime numbers. Orlando led in possession (55.4%-44.6%), shots (13-9), shots on target (5-4), passing accuracy (85.1%-82%), and corners (6-4).

“Now we prepare for the next leg at home,” Diego Torres said. “I know this game is very important. And the next game now is very important.”

“I wanted the players to be brave, and there’s certainly things that we can learn from it,” Cavalry Head Coach Tommy Wheeldon said. “I don’t think it was a three-nil game. I think between both boxes we matched up with them very, very well. I think they probably defended better in there’s and they finished better in ours, and that’s the difference.”


Orlando City will host Cavalry FC next Tuesday night in the second leg. Prior to that, the Lions have a quick turnaround ahead of Saturday’s MLS opener at home against CF Montreal at 7:30 p.m.

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