Orlando City vs. Seattle Sounders: Player Grades and Man of the Match
For the third consecutive game, Orlando City scored in second-half injury time to claim all three points, in a 3-2 win over the Seattle Sounders. However, this time the Lions came back from a two-goal deficit and it wasn’t Tesho Akindele scoring the winner. It’s the Lions’ fourth straight win, keeping them in fifth in the Eastern Conference.
Let’s take a look at the individual performances in this big win.
GK, Pedro Gallese, 5.5 — Gallese didn’t have a lot to do in this game, only facing three shots on target. He conceded two goals in the game, but came up with a huge one-handed save late in the second half that would’ve given the Sounders the lead. Gallese couldn’t do much about Albert Rusnak’s free kick, which went through the wall and was perfectly placed in the top corner, but he could have done better on Raul Ruidiaz’s near-post effort.
D, Joao Moutinho, 6.5 — Moutinho was the better of the two starting fullbacks in this game. The left back had two tackles and one clearance defensively, but his biggest impact was going forward. He completed 84.2% of his 38 passes, including four key passes, and an assist on Facundo Torres’ goal. Moutinho completed three of his seven crosses and one of his two long balls. Additionally, he took one shot on the rebound of Mauricio Pereyra’s poor penalty but what was a likely goal was blocked at the last second by Seattle’s Jackson Ragen.
D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 5.5 — Schlegel was good for most of the game. He ended the game with one tackle, two interceptions, and one clearance, but Jordan Morris blew by him on the second Seattle goal. Going forward, Schlegel completed 81.4% of his 43 passes, completed one of his two long balls, and took one off-target shot. His grade would be higher but his poor defending on Morris on the second goal was his biggest contribution.
D, Antonio Carlos, 6 — As expected, Carlos was the better of the two center backs for most of the game. The Brazilian had two tackles and three clearances defensively. He completed 88.9% of his 36 shots and five of his seven long balls. He also took one shot, which was on target. However, Carlos had a role in both Seattle goals. He committed the foul that led to the first goal and was at the near post on the second, although Ruan was the man covering Ruidiaz. Carlos also took an unnecessary yellow card arguing a foul call that went against him.
D, Ruan, 5 — Ruan was at fault for one of the Seattle goals but unlike Carlos, didn’t put up a strong display to overcome that mistake. He didn’t have any defensive statistics in this game. He completed 83.3% of his 24 passes and had two key passes, but he only had one cross attempt and it was incomplete. Ruan was at the near post on Seattle’s second goal but was unable to clear it. It’s fair to say that in a transition situation with three defenders back against two attackers, it’s probably not the best idea to leave the other team’s Designated Player striker 1-v-1 with the Brazilian right back. The inability to clear the ball allowed Rusnak to score the game’s opening goal.
MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 6 — Pereyra had a strong game on both sides. Offensively, he completed 94.6% of his 37 passes, including one key pass. He completed two of his four crosses and five of his six long balls. He took two shots and one of those was on target. Defensively, Pereyra had one tackle, one interceptions, and one blocked shot. Pereyra would’ve had a higher score, but he took a very poor penalty in the first half that was at the perfect position and height for Stefan Frei. Had the Lions not scored at the end, it could’ve cost the team two points.
MF, Cesar Araujo, 7 — Araujo has been one of Orlando City’s most consistent players and had another great performance in this game. Defensively, the central midfielder had four tackles and was instrumental when Oscar Pareja brought on Benji Michel for Ruan, going with three defenders. When in possession, he completed 90.2% of his 51 passes, had a key pass, and completed all five of his long balls. He also had one off-target shot but was fantastic in his role.
MF, Niko Gioacchini, 5 — This was Gioacchini’s first start for the senior team and a little rust was showing. Gioacchini’s had an early unlucky touch as he seemed about to break free for a scoring chance but lost the handle on the ball. He completed just 70.6% of his 17 passes, had one key pass, and one off-target shot. His biggest contributions of the game were drawing the penalty that Pereyra sent at the goalkeeper and nearly assisting a goal for Ivan Angulo had Frei not made a terrific save.
MF, Junior Urso, 5.5 — After arguably his best performance of the season, Urso saw a bit of a drop-off in this one. He completed 82.4% of his 34 passes and completed four of his six long balls. He didn’t get any shots off but did play Gioacchini into the box that resulted in the first penalty. Defensively, Urso had one tackle and two interceptions. It wasn’t one of Urso’s more impactful games, but it wasn’t a bad performance either.
MF, Ivan Angulo, 6 — Angulo was in the starting lineup for the first time in this game and had another strong performance. He completed 88.2% of his 17 passes, had one incomplete cross, and completed his only long ball. He took two shots in the game, both of which were on target and chipped in two tackles on defense. While he wasn’t as good as the game against New York City FC Sunday night, he’s been better than Jake Mulraney and Gioacchini and has probably cemented his spot in the starting lineup for the upcoming games.
F, Tesho Akindele, 5.5 — After scoring game-winning goals in the two most recent games, Akindele earned himself a spot in the starting lineup against Seattle. In 63 minutes, the forward completed 53.3% of his 15 passes, completed one long ball, won four aerials, and took two off-target shots, one of which was blocked by a defender from point-blank range in his last action before being subbed off.
MF, Facundo Torres (46’), 7 (MotM) — After starting 14 of the last 15 games, Torres was given a rest for the first half against Seattle. However, Pareja said after the game that he wanted the star midfielder’s left-footed option in the second half, and he came on at halftime for Gioacchini. He made an immediate impact, scoring Orlando City’s first goal in the 53rd minute and assisting the winning goal in injury time. He completed 90% of his 20 passes with two key passes, one of his two crosses, and his one long ball. He had two shots in the game, with one going in.
F, Ercan Kara (64’), 6 — Similar to Torres, Kara came on in the second half and made an immediate impact. The striker replaced Akindele with Orlando City down a goal. In the 68th minute, he stepped up for the team’s second penalty of the night after a handball in the box. Unlike the first, Kara put his attempt into the corner, evening the game at 2-2. In addition to the goal, Kara completed one of his three passes and took two other shots, but both were officially recorded as off target — although one was a header that Frei made an excellent save to keep out, so there’s no telling what the official scorer saw on that play. The actual off-target shot was a header that missed by about a foot or less on a good corner kick cross from Torres. He was brought on to bring the Lions back even and did his job.
MF, Benji Michel (64’), 5.5 — Pareja made an aggressive move by bringing Michel on for Ruan in the 64th minute. He played in the midfield in this game, spending most of his time out wide in a bit of a wingback role to start before moving to the attacking midfield when Kyle Smith came on. He completed eight of his 10 passes, had one incomplete cross, and one incomplete long ball. He took one shot, which was on target, but didn’t make a big impact on the game.
D, Kyle Smith (76’), 7 — Smith came on for Pereyra in the 76th minute as the Lions went back to a traditional back four. It looked as though he wouldn’t have a big impact, but he did late. In the 89th minute, he nearly assisted the winner on a fantastic ball that landed on the head of Andres Perea, but Frei made a great save. A minute into injury time, Smith scored the game-winning goal. It took a deflection off Ragen’s body, but Smith was awarded the goal due to the original effort being judged on target, lifting the Lions to a 3-2 win. In the end, Smith completed all five of his passes, his lone cross, both of his long balls, and scored on his only shot. Can’t do much better than that.
MF, Andres Perea (76’), 6 — Perea came on in the 76th minute with Smith, replacing Angulo. He completed four of his five passes and nearly scored the winner in the 89th minute. Perea attacked the ball, beating the defenders to the ball on Smith’s cross but hit his shot right at Frei.
That’s how I saw the individual performances in this game. Let us know how you saw it and vote on the Man of the Match below.
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Intelligence Report: Orlando City vs. Colorado Rapids
Familiarize yourself with the Colorado Rapids, courtesy of someone who knows them best.
Another Orlando City game is almost upon us, as the Lions look to both extend their five-match unbeaten run and pick up two wins in a row. This week sees the Colorado Rapids come to town for the first home game of June.
A match with the Rapids means I spoke to Matt Pollard, of Burgundy Wave. That’s another site that has gone independent and the folks over there are continuing to provide great coverage of the Rapids, so make sure to check them out!
What were some of the big incoming and outgoing transfers for the Rapids ahead of this season?
Matt Pollard: The three biggest incoming players in terms of expectations were Kévin Cabral, Connor Ronan, and Andreas Maxsø.
Cabral is probably the highest-risk, highest-reward signing when it comes to the Rapids going after distressed assets. So far, it hasn’t panned out. He presses well, but that’s about it. The same issues he had at LA Galaxy (getting called offside, not finishing) are present here in Colorado. The difference is, he’s the focal point instead of the third player opposing defenses worry about.
Ronan and Maxsø have been great. Ronan was brought in to play alongside Jack Price. When Price went down for the season, Ronan stepped into the No. 6 role and adjusted well. He’s tidy at the back, works hard off the ball, and is one of the better assist providers on the team. Maxsø has been good defensively in the air and good at emergency defending. The Rapids typically give up goals by making a series of small errors. Rarely is the Great Dane one of those players who makes a mistake on a goal.
It’s hard to say if there were any significant departures from last year’s team. Most fans weren’t surprised or bummed out when Gyasi Zardes signed for Austin FC. The left back position has been an issue, so maybe Lucas Esteves. But he had some attitude issues and was hot headed. Robin Fraser’s such a culture guy, he wasn’t worth the headache.
It’s been a difficult start to the season for Colorado, what has been the biggest reason for the team’s struggles?
MP: Injuries. Injuries. Injuries. Price went down for the season in his second appearance. Diego Rubio has had three separate injuries. Maxsø was under concussion protocol for two games. I’ve lost count of how many players have had hamstring issues. As I’ve written about previously for Burgundy Wave, the infrastructure at Dick’s (Sporting Goods Park) is showing its age. The team had a really bad stretch in March and April with practice fields and winter sticking around. They’ve missed key players. They’ve had limited depth. All while playing eight games in May. Hopefully a full week of training has them healthy and refocused for Saturday.
With plenty of games left to play and only sitting six points out of the play-in spots, the Rapids are far from dead and buried. What needs to happen for Colorado to turn the season around?
MP: Get healthy and get going offensively. Rubio is still their only reliable chance creator. All their goal scorers have been streaky. If Rubio comes back healthy and can give the Rapids the production he had last year (a club-record 16 goals and seven assists), that would be fantastic. Add in Cabral, Jonathan Lewis, and Braian Galván having a good finishing streak, and they could be ok. Orlando fans should be wary of Michael Barrios coming off the bench tomorrow. All 12 of his goals for the Rapids have come in the second half.
Are there any players who will be unavailable for selection due to call-ups, injuries, suspensions, etc? What is your projected starting lineup and score prediction?
MP: The injury report just came out and there are only four players on it. That’s tied for the lowest of the season! Rubio is questionable, and Fraser’s been really cautious with his key players coming back from injury. I can’t see him getting more than 20 minutes Saturday. Moïse Bombito is suspended for a harsh second yellow against San Jose, so expect Lalas Abubakar to start at center back. Price is out, as mentioned previously. Max Alves is still removed from team activities as he’s under investigation for participation in a sports gambling scheme in his native Brazil.
Marko Ilic; Danny Wilson, Andreas Maxsø, Lalas Abubakar; Sam Nicholson, Keegan Rosenberry; Connor Ronan, Bryan Acosta, Cole Bassett; Jonathan Lewis, Darren Yapi.
I think Orlando wins a tight, ugly game. Oscar Pareja knows how to poop-house the Rapids. 1-0, Facundo Torres scores. I do think we’ll see one of the better performances from the Rapids of this winless stretch for what that’s worth.
Thank you to Matt for the excellent info and helping get us up to speed on the Rapids. Vamos Orlando!
Lion Links: 6/9/23
Orlando City gets ready for the Colorado Rapids, OCB faces FC Cincinnati 2 on Sunday, U-20 World Cup final is set, and more.
How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope this Friday finds you well as we gear up for a weekend filled to the brim with Orlando soccer. My friends are taking me out for teppanyaki and scorpion bowls tonight, so it should be a pretty nice day on my end. Hopefully your Friday goes smoothly as well. Now, let’s dive into today’s links from around the soccer world.
Orlando City Prepares for the Colorado Rapids
The Lions are on a five-game unbeaten run as they get ready for a home match tomorrow night against the Colorado Rapids. Facundo Torres scored twice in the team’s 3-0 win over the New York Red Bulls last weekend. Hopefully he can keep the momentum rolling against a Colorado team that’s allowed 25 goals this season and sits last in the league in points per game, with just two wins in 17 matches. Pedro Gallese also recorded his 26th clean sheet for Orlando in last week’s win, and could make his 100th appearance as a Lion tomorrow night. The Lions will have to keep an eye on Irish midfielder Connor Ronan, who has six assists in his first season with the Rapids.
Orlando City B Aims to Bounce Back at Home
After a 3-0 defeat to Toronto FC II in Canada this past weekend, Orlando City B will look to right the ship on Sunday at home against FC Cincinnati 2. The Young Lions are unbeaten at home this season, winning four of their six games at Osceola Heritage Park. The last time these two teams played was in August of last year, with Cincy winning in the penalty shootout following a 2-2 draw. Although he didn’t score in that match, OCB forward Jack Lynn scored three goals against Cincinnati last year and currently leads OCB with six goals this season. Sunday’s match should be a good opportunity for OCB’s offense to bounce back against a leaky Cincy defense.
USMNT Players Focused Despite Coaching Search
With European seasons over, American players who have been plying their trade abroad are back in the U.S. to prepare for the Concacaf Nations League and Gold Cup this month. The team will be coached by B.J. Callaghan in an interim capacity while the search for a head coach continues. Although not having a permanent head coach for these tournaments isn’t ideal, Nashville SC center back Walker Zimmerman spoke on how the team still knows how to get the job done.
“We’re a team that has a very strong team chemistry, strong culture within our group. And we know that for us, not much has changed right now,” said Zimmerman. “We know the same principles, style of play, expectations, accountability – all those things are the same. So I think that’s player-driven, to hold each other accountable to the standards that we’ve set over the past four years. BJ, he’s on top of it. He’s knowledgeable about what we want to do, how we’re going to go about these games.”
The roster includes many of the players who featured in the World Cup last year, but the striker position is one to watch due to the new faces involved. Folarin Balogun is with the team for the first time and it will be interesting to see how he measures up against Ricardo Pepi, Alex Zendejas, and Jesus Ferreira. We will get to see who spearheads the USMNT’s attack next Thursday, when the Yanks take on Mexico in Las Vegas.
Italy and Uruguay Reach U-20 World Cup Final
Only two teams remain in the U-20 World Cup after Italy and Uruguay each won their semifinals. Uruguay, which beat the U.S. in the quarterfinals, beat Israel 1-0, thanks to a goal in the second half from Anderson Duarte. In Italy’s semifinal against South Korea, Cesare Casadei’s terrific tournament continued as he gave Italy the lead in the 14th minute. South Korea equalized soon after with a penalty kick, but 17-year-old forward Simone Pafundi scored a nice free kick to send Italy into the final.
The final will take place on Sunday at 5 p.m., with the third-place match set for 1:30 p.m. It will be Italy’s first time playing in a U-20 World Cup final, while it will be Uruguay’s third time after losing in 1997 and 2013.
- American defender Josh Wynder is headed to Benfica. The Portuguese club signed the 18-year-old from USL Championship club Louisville City for a reported $1.2 million transfer fee, which would be a record amount for a USL player.
- FC Cincinnati and the Houston Dynamo will host in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals. Both matches will be on Aug. 23, with the Dynamo playing Real Salt Lake and Cincinnati facing Inter Miami.
- Speaking of FC Cincinnati, the club is reportedly close to signing Gabonese forward Aaron Boupendza as a Designated Player for a $7 million transfer fee. Boupendza had 11 goals in 17 appearances for Al-Shabab in the Saudi Pro League this past season.
- Brooklyn will be home to a USL League One team, which will begin playing in the 2025 season.
- Liverpool agreed to buy back its Melwood training ground with the intention of turning it into a training facility for its women’s team.
- Czech police stated that 23 West Ham and Fiorentina fans were arrested for their actions while in Prague for the Europa Conference League.
- Liverpool signed midfielder Alexis Mac Allister to a contract through 2028. The 24-year-old had 12 goals and three assists last season for Brighton.
That’s all I have for you today. Have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!
Orlando City vs. Colorado Rapids: Three Keys to Victory
What does Orlando City need to do to earn all three points at home against the Rapids this Saturday night?
Orlando City is back home in Exploria Stadium and hosting the Colorado Rapids this Saturday night. The Lions are coming off a big road win over the New York Red Bulls, and will want to extend the five-match unbeaten streak. What does Orlando City need to do to secure all three points at home this weekend?
Survive the First Half
Colorado has been better in the first half of matches this season than in the second half. The Lions can expect the Rapids to come out strong, looking for an early goal. If Orlando City can play smart on defense, maintain possession, and limit Colorado’s chances for the first 45 minutes, plus stoppage time, the odds of winning at home go up.
I’m most worried about the first 15 minutes and the last five minutes of this half. It’s going to be contingent upon the effective midfield pairing of Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena to break down the Rapids’ attack. Araujo was in training this week despite going off injured in the last match, indicating it wasn’t that serious and he may be available. Cartagena has quietly been fantastic the last few matches, and there’s no reason to think that won’t continue.
Behind that pair is another line of defense, including Robin Jansson and Antonio Carlos, that can clean up anything else that gets through. Carlos has mostly been great, although he’s had a few less-than-stellar matches, and Jansson has been excellent. If Orlando City weathers the first half in good shape, I’ll feel better about the Lions getting three points.
Ride the Hot Feet
Oscar Pareja has trotted out the same starting lineup the last couple of matches, and I don’t expect he will mess with the success. After the last match, Ivan Angulo and Facundo Torres will be feeling pretty good, and we don’t want those confidence-boosting performances to be wasted. There will be plenty of time to let them rest if they can help provide the team with a two-goal lead after the 60 minute mark.
The same goes for Ercan Kara. No he didn’t have a goal last match, but that had more to do with dealing with the New York Red Bulls press than anything else. His last goal was three matches ago against Inter Miami, but he is putting the work in regardless, and I think he’s primed to find the back of the net against Colorado.
Regardless of the scoreline, look for Pareja to bring on Martin Ojeda and Duncan McGuire to either put the match away or look for a positive result. Duncan can be a terror against a team that doesn’t play well in the second half, and Ojeda seems due for a goal. He certainly isn’t shy about taking chances, and eventually one of them is going to result in a goal.
Too many times in Orlando City history, the Lions have played a team on a winless streak — the Rapids haven’t won in their last six matches — and been the team to let the opposition get back on track. The Lions are also riding a five-match undefeated streak heading into Saturday’s match. It’s the type of match that tends to worry scarred Orlando City supporters, and I have those bad thoughts and feelings as well. As Michael Scott said on The Office, “I’m not superstitious, but I am a little stitious.” If Orlando City could not feed into that phenomenon, it would be great.
I think that sometimes the Lions want to give the home crowd a win so badly that they get nervous and end up pressing too hard, or trying to slip a pass into too tight of a window. When that happens, the natural flow of an offense that is looking better, passing better, and scoring goals will give the ball away cheaply. My suggestion is for the players is to just relax. Pretend it’s a road match if necessary, but just keep calm and let the match develop naturally.
That’s what I’ll be looking for this Saturday night from my seat in Exploria Stadium. Since I’ll be down for this one, please make sure to say hello if you see me.
Intelligence Report: Orlando City vs. Colorado Rapids
PawedCast Episode 351: Colorado Rapids Preview, the Miami Messi Mess, and More
Lion Links: 6/9/23
Orlando City B vs. Toronto FC II: Final Score 3-0 as OCB Falls in Shortened Game
My First Orlando City Road Match: New York Red Bulls
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