Connect with us

Orlando City

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



Tesho Akindele did it again, scoring the game-winning goal with the last kick (header, anyway) of the game as Orlando City beat New York City FC 2-1 for a huge three points. It’s the third consecutive win for the Lions, who beat the New York Red Bulls 1-0 and Charlotte FC 2-1 in the two previous games. However, it’s a win at home, which has been hard to come by for this team.

Let’s take a look at how the Orlando City players did individually in this game.


GK, Pedro Gallese, 5.5 Gallese didn’t have a lot to do in this game. NYCFC only took one shot on target and it was its goal. The Peruvian international did play seven long balls out of the back but only completed one. However, those were mostly goal kicks, which are almost always 50/50 balls. The grade being this low has more to do with how Orlando controlled the match rather than the goalkeeper not playing well. While we can’t give Gallese a grade as high as we usually do, he didn’t make any big mistakes so it was not a bad game either.

D, Joao Moutinho, 5.5 Moutinho wasn’t as involved as you’d like to see. Defensively, he only had one tackle. On the attacking end, he attempted five crosses but none of them were successful. He did complete four of his seven long balls, which is a positive, and completed 78.4% of his 51 passes. He didn’t have a bad game but didn’t have a significant impact, as Orlando controlled the match and he wasn’t called upon often defensively.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 5.5   For the most part, Schlegel had a pretty good game. He finished the game with two tackles, two interceptions, and one clearance. On the attacking end, he completed 85.1% of his 47 passes, including a key pass, and completed three of his five long balls. However, he got sucked into the middle on the NYCFC goal, allowing Maxi Moralez to get behind the line and even the game at 1-1.

D, Antonio Carlos, 6 — This game was almost a disaster for Antonio Carlos, who received a red card in the 47th minute, only for VAR to rightfully change it to a yellow. Instead, it was a solid performance by the Brazilian center back. Carlos had two tackles and five clearances in the back. He completed 84% of his 50 passes and five of his nine long balls. He probably was the best of the back line for the Lions in this game.

D, Ruan, 5 Ruan had a difficult game. He ended up with two tackles, two interceptions, and one blocked shot defensively but his problems were in the attack. While he had two key passes, he only completed 67.6% of his 37 passes and neither of his crosses. His poor crossing was a problem for a team that relies on the crossing ability of its full backs. Additionally, he completed three of his five long balls and had one shot so off-target that it hit the corner flag.

MF, Wilder Cartagena, 5.5 Cartagena had a solid but unspectacular game in his first start for Orlando City. He had three tackles defensively but failed to contain Moralez, who had control of the midfield until Cesar Araujo came on. Cartagena completed 75% of his 20 passes and took two shots with one on target.

MF, Junior Urso, 7 (MotM) This was one of Urso’s best games of the season. The midfielder played an attacking role in this game, completing 89.7% of his 39 passes, including one key pass. He took a team-high five shots, with two on target, and scored the game’s first goal. The goal was a wonderful play by Urso, which included a good move to beat the defender, a quick one-two with Facundo Torres, a great first touch to control the ball, and a wonderful finish. While others can be considered for Man of the Match, I’ll give it to Urso because of his goal and for forcing Sean Johnson’s best save of the night with another good shot.

MF, Jake Mulraney, 5  — Mulraney wasn’t as bad as he was in Charlotte a week ago but he was barely noticeable in this game. The midfielder only had 18 touches and completed 83.3% of just 12 passes. He had one incomplete cross and didn’t take any shots. His poor pass to Cartagena was the turnover that ultimately led to NYCFC’s tying goal early in the second half. He was seemingly on a different page than his teammates much of the night. It certainly appears as though Mulraney won’t be starting much longer.

MF, Facundo Torres, 6.5 The two best attacking starters for the Lions in this game were Urso and Torres. The midfielder completed 74.6% of his 55 passes, three of which were key passes. He completed two of his team-high nine crosses and one of his four long balls. Considering the weather, that’s not bad. He took two shots in this game but neither were on target. Additionally, his quick one-two with Urso resulted in an assist for the Uruguayan.

MF, Benji Michel, 5.5 Similar to Mulraney, Michel wasn’t very involved in this game. He only had 27 touches and completed 81.3% of his 16 passes. Michel started the game in the midfield but moved to the forward position when Araujo replaced Ercan Kara in the 58th minute. However, it was an unremarkable performance in both positions.

F, Ercan Kara, 5.5 — Kara had 21 touches up top in this game and only took one shot, which was a header off target with Maxime Chanot defending him well. He completed 54.6% of his 11 passes, one of which was a key pass, before being taken off in the 58th minute for Araujo.


MF, Cesar Araujo (58’), 6.5   When the weather allowed, Moralez took control of the midfield for NYCFC until Araujo came on for Kara. Unquestionably the team’s best defensive midfielder, Araujo did his job well in this game, allowing the Lions to get their hold back on the game. He only had one tackle but completed 88.2% of his 34 passes. Additionally, he took one off-target shot.

MF, Andres Perea (64’), 6 — Perea came on in the 64th minute for Mulraney. While he didn’t have a memorable game, it wasn’t a bad one either. Perea had one tackle and completed 76.5% of his 17 passes, including one key pass.

MF, Ivan Angulo (65’), 7 This was the second-longest performance for Angulo for the first team and should be the one that sees him take Mulraney’s starting spot. The midfielder was excellent in this game, completing all of his five passes, which included a pair of key passes. He completed two of his three crosses and his corner kick in the final seconds found the head of Tesho Akindele, giving him the assist on the winning goal. He also played well defensively, with one interception and a couple of good pressures to cut off New York City possession down his side.

F, Tesho Akindele (78’), 6.5 Akindele came on with 12 minutes to go and it looked like it would be a forgettable appearance for the striker as he only had eight touches. The first seven touches were insignificant, completing three of his five passes and having one incomplete cross. However, his last touch of the game was a header to the back post off of Angulo’s corner that saw him score the game-winning goal for the second-consecutive game.

D, Kyle Smith (78’), 6 — Smith only came on with 12 minutes to go but played well in those minutes. He completed 91.7% of his 12 passes and completed two of his four crosses. He didn’t record any defensive stats as the Lions were on the attack in the final minutes. He had an opportunity to put Orlando ahead in the final 10 minutes with an open look at the back post but couldn’t put his shot on target.

That’s how I saw the individual performances in this game. While the individual player scores may seem somewhat low, the Lions played well as a team in the match. Let us know how you saw it and vote on the Man of the Match below.

Polling Closed

Junior Urso35
Facundo Torres23
Antonio Carlos0
Cesar Araujo2
Ivan Angulo10
Other (let us know in the comments)9

Orlando City

2023 Orlando City Season in Review: Junior Urso

The Bear returned unexpectedly in the middle of the season to bolster the Orlando midfield.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Midfielder Junior Urso joined Orlando City on Jan. 13, 2020 from Brazilian giants Corinthians on a multi-year deal. The Bear spent three years in purple before he and the club mutually agreed to part ways, terminating his contract for personal reasons on Nov. 10, 2022. Upon his return to Brazil, Urso joined Coritiba, but injuries limited him to just seven appearances. In a surprise move, Urso rejoined Orlando City on July 19, returning to the City Beautiful and accepting a backup role behind the Lions’ double pivot of Wilder Cartagena and Cesar Araujo.

Let’s take a look back at Urso’s 2023 campaign.

Statistical Breakdown

Urso made his return to the pitch for Orlando City on Aug. 20, following the club’s run in Leagues Cup. In the MLS regular season, Urso made nine appearances (two starts), logging 250 minutes. Urso did not score a goal or assist on one, attempting just three shots, none of which found the target. The Bear completed 78.3% of his 115 total pass attempts but did not record a key pass or a successful cross. Defensively, Urso tallied two interceptions, five tackles, and five clearances. He committed two fouls, drew two on the opposition, and was booked just once.

The Brazilian also appeared in all three of Orlando City’s playoff matches, all off the bench, totaling 98 minutes. He did not score a goal or assist on one, attempting three shots, one of which was on target. He completed 86.4% of his passes, including three key passes, but did not connect on a cross. Urso chipped in one tackle defensively, committed two fouls, suffered three, and was not booked in the postseason.

Best Game

With a little less than a third of a season in purple and gold and serving primarily as a reserve player, Urso’s best match was his regular-season appearance on the road against Nashville SC on Oct. 4. The Bear came on for Facundo Torres in the 72nd minute and did what fans have always expected of him, which is to frustrate the living hell out of the opponent. Urso made sure that Nashville knew that he had entered the game, winning countless throw-ins, allowing Orlando to walk away with its first road victory at Nashville. Urso also recorded a shot in the match, which was the Lions’ only attempt other than Duncan McGuire’s goal, although it was perhaps a bit generous to call it a shot attempt. He passed at a 72.2% rate and recorded a tackle and a clearance and did his job helping the Lions see out a tight victory.

2023 Final Grade

As Urso 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. While it was a surreal experience just to see the Bear back on the pitch for Orlando City after his sudden departure, a delayed return to the pitch due to a lingering knock and the play of the midfielders in front of him on the depth chart limited his ability to leave his mark on the season. However, it’s difficult to put a grade on the experience he brought to the squad.

2024 Outlook

Orlando City has yet to announce its end-of-season roster decisions as of this writing, but with Wilder Cartagena’s loan spell expired, the Lions would be wise to pick up Urso’s contract option for the 2024 season. If that happens, he would likely take up the No. 8 role with Araujo playing the No. 6 in Orlando’s double pivot (assuming Oscar Pareja also returns). Urso could split time at the No. 8 if Orlando adds a new starting No. 10, because in that case, Mauricio Pereyra might see some time in that spot. If a permanent transfer or loan extension for Cartagena is secured, Urso provides value off the bench, although he’s a bit pricey for a backup at $360,000.

Previous Season in Review Articles (Date Posted)

Continue Reading

Lion Links

Lion Links: 12/5/23

Exploria Stadium will host Copa America games, Pride reportedly make offer for Crystal Dunn, Americans in midweek action, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Good morning, everyone. I’m still dragging a little bit after having a shortened weekend due to work, but I hope all of you were able to hit the ground running yesterday and started your weeks off on the right note. As usual, there’s a lot of interesting things to discuss today, so let’s get after it.

Exploria Stadium Picked as Copa America Venue

The host cities and venues for next summer’s Copa America tournament were revealed and Orlando City’s Exploria Stadium has been chosen. The Lions’ home will have games on June 29 and July 1, and both games could be very important ones as they will take place during the final day of play for Groups A and C. We also know that the USMNT will play its group stage games in Atlanta, Dallas, and Kansas City. The semifinal matches will be held at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey and at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, with Charlotte also hosting the third-place game. We’ll know very soon which teams will be playing in Orlando, as the draw will take place on Thursday.

Orlando Pride Reportedly Make an Offer for Crystal Dunn

The Orlando Pride have reportedly made a large offer to bring Crystal Dunn to Orlando, with CBS Sports reporting the amount prepared by the Pride to be more than $400,000. However, negotiations between the Pride and Dunn are reportedly no longer ongoing.

The 31-year-old is a free agent after announcing that she was not returning to the Portland Thorns after three seasons there. She is one of the more notable free agents this off-season and the Washington Spirit and NJ/NY Gotham FC are also interested in signing her ahead of the 2024 season.

Americans in Midweek Action

There are a number of American players who will be playing games this week, so make sure you have some of these marked down on your calendar. First up is a match that could feature up to three players currently in the USMNT pool, as Jordan Pefok, Joe Scally, and Borussia Monchengladbach will face Kevin Paredes and Wolfsburg in the DFB Pokal. Tomorrow sees Tim Ream, Antonee Robinson, and Fulham playing Matt Turner’s Nottingham Forest, although the USMNT’s starting goalkeeper is not likely to play. The week finishes with Juventus and Weston McKennie facing Napoli in league play, although Tim Weah is still an injury doubt.

USWNT Aims for Change in Mentality

The 2024 calendar year is going to be an important one for the United States Women’s National Team, and the team wants to start it off on the right foot. Interim head coach Twila Kilgore is viewing today’s match against China as a chance for the team to continue building a new identity and to keep developing tactically after a disappointing early exit from this summer’s World Cup. While Emma Hayes has been named the team’s new head coach, she won’t officially join up until Chelsea’s club season ends in May. Until that happens, there’s plenty of work to be done with the Gold Cup just around the corner in March, followed by the Olympics in Paris in July.

The Soccer Tournament Adds Women’s Competition

Following the success of last year’s first edition of The Soccer Tournament, the organizers have added a women’s competition for next summer’s event. The seven-a-side tournament will now also feature an eight-team women’s bracket which will also have a $1 million prize up for grabs. The decision was made after an all-women’s team led by Heather O’Reilly drew significant support when it competed last year, despite not picking up a win. The men’s tournament will also be expanding to 48 teams for this year’s competition, after featuring 32 participants during the summer.

Free Kicks

  • Ramiro Enrique has been called up to Argentina’s training camp for its 2024 Olympic team.
  • Orlando City’s documentary about the 2022 U.S. Open Cup victory has won a Suncoast Emmy.
  • In the 2023 Women’s College Cup final, Florida State beat Stanford 5-1 to win its fourth national championship.

That’s all that I have for today. Y’all stay safe out there.

Continue Reading

Lion Links

Lion Links: 12/4/23

Crew to host MLS Cup final, LAFC returns to MLS Cup, Tim Howard to be inducted into National Soccer Hall of Fame, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Good Monday morning, Mane Landers. The weekend brought us some drama-filled conference final action, and we now know who will play for the MLS Cup. But before I dive into that, I just want to take a quick minute to say with mixed emotions that this will be my final Lion Links here, but don’t be sad, because the rest of the boys will still be bringing your daily content needs and coverage. I’ll be stepping away as my wife and I are soon to be first-time parents, and I’m looking forward to all that entails. I appreciate each and every one of you readers for taking the time to scroll through my articles each week. If you’re interested in writing for TML, we could definitely use the help so please reach out. Now, let’s get into the links!

Columbus Crew Claim Hell Is Real Comeback

After a rocky start, the Columbus Crew became the first team to overcome a two-goal deficit on the road and advance in a single-leg round in the history of the MLS Cup playoffs. FC Cincinnati got off to a great start behind USMNT striker Brandon Vasquez, who opened the scoring, but it was captain Luciano Acosta’s sublime free kick finish that stole the show in the first half.

It took trusting the process and the tactics of their first-year manager Wilfried Nancy, but the Columbus Crew fought back with late match heroics to seal the victory. Forward Christian Ramirez bagged the game-winning goal in extra time in the 115th minute.

“You can only fight for someone like that,” said Ramirez. “So many times you can feel that you’re getting the bad end of the stick at certain moments, but I haven’t felt that. I think numerous guys understand how he sees the game now, and we respect that. We talk about writing our story in the Columbus Crew history; this chapter wasn’t done. We got one more week, one more game.”

LAFC Returns to MLS Cup

The league’s defending champion, LAFC, will once again be playing in the final match of the postseason. After frustrating the Houston Dynamo throughout the Western Conference final, LAFC won 2-0. Houston might have dominated the stat sheet in possession, passes, and passing accuracy, but really it was just playing into the gameplan of LAFC.

“We knew that’s what they wanted. They wanted the ball,” said LAFC right back Ryan Hollingshead. “They like to play this little tiki-taka in the middle of the field, these little movements, little one-twos, three of their guys just kind of pass the ball, but they’re going nowhere. And so we just said, do whatever you got, have the ball as long as you want. They created zero dangerous chances. They had a half-chance in the first half on a cross to Baird and that was it. And so a lot of these teams, it’s like, yeah, they’ve got possession, they may be moving the ball. But if they’re not creating dangerous chances, who cares?”

MLS Cup Final Preview

The Eastern Conference champion Columbus Crew will host Western Conference champion LAFC at Field on Dec. 9 at 4 p.m for the MLS Cup. The match will be No. 53 across all competitions this campaign for LAFC, and a victory would make the club the first repeat winners since the 2011-2012 LA Galaxy. The storylines leading to the match will likely center around the possibility of it being Carlos Vela’s final game for LAFC, but for the Crew, the bench players will be the ones to watch. In the 65th minute of the Eastern Conference final, Head Coach Wilfried Nancy brought in Julian Gressel and Christian Ramirez, who both played a pivotal role in two of the three Columbus goals in the comeback victory.  The Crew last lifted the MLS Cup in 2020, defeating Seattle Sounders 3-0 at Historic Crew Stadium.

2024 National Soccer Hall of Fame

On May 4, the National Soccer Hall of Fame will induct its 2024 class. Most notable will be long-time USMNT goalkeeper Tim Howard, who played 121 matches for the United States and had a successful career in the English Premier League. Other inductees will be USWNT World Cup winner Tisha Venturini-Hoch, 1996 Paralympic captain Josh McKinney, and USL founder Francisco Marcos.

Orlando Reportedly Set to Host USMNT-Brazil Friendly

The United States Men’s National Team is reportedly far along in negotiations to face Brazil in Orlando for a friendly leading to next year’s Copa America. The Yanks and Brazil last met in September 2018 in a friendly match in East Rutherford, NJ. The United States will host the Copa America from June 19 to July 14 as one of six invited teams to the South American competition. Brazil enter as the defending champion and should prove a worthy test for the Stars & Stripes to tune up for the Southern American title.

Free Kicks

  • Check your pockets and secure your valuables when USMNT left back Antonee Robinson is on the field.

That’s a wrap for my personal writing here for a while. It has been a pleasure to bring some coverage to you all for the past couple seasons. It’s not goodbye. It’s see you later. Vamos Orlando!

Continue Reading