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

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Orlando City looked to be in a good spot when Facundo Torres gave the Lions a 1-0 lead at Red Bull Arena, but New York City FC came back with two late goals to take all three points. The loss keeps the Lions tied at 45 points with the Columbus Crew and Inter Miami for the final two playoff spots with two games remaining.

Let’s take a look at how the Lions performed individually in this loss.

Starters

GK, Pedro Gallese, 5.5 — Orlando City has depended on Gallese several times this year to keep them in games. Usually he’s been solid, but Gallese didn’t have his best game today. While not bad, the team’s number one didn’t commit when coming off his line in the 66th minute, resulting in him being stuck in a tight spot. As a result, NYCFC scored the equalizer. Statistically, Gallese conceded two goals and had three saves. He completed 79% of his 19 passes, including five of his nine long balls.

D, Joao Moutinho, 5.5 — Moutinho was much better than Ruan in this game, completing 78.1% of his 41 passes, three of his six crosses, and three of his seven long balls. Defensively, he recorded two tackles, one interception, and one clearance. But in the 81st minute he got sucked up into the midfield, allowing NYCFC to get behind Orlando’s back line. It resulted in the host’s second and game-winning goal.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 6 — Schlegel had a good game, recording two tackles, one interception, a blocked shot, and a team-high six clearances. He completed 75.9% of his 29 passes but failed to complete any of his five long balls.

D, Antonio Carlos, 5 — Defensively, Carlos recorded two tackles, one interception, and had five clearances. However, in the 66th minute, Carlos whiffed on an attempted clearance. It allowed NYCFC to get behind the Lions’ back line and left Carlos out of position. Alexander Callens scored right in front of goal because Carlos wasn’t there to defend him. Going forward, Carlos completed 81.4% of his 43 passes and one of his four long balls.

D, Ruan, 4.5 — Ruan had a terrible game at right back. Defensively, he had two tackles and one clearance. He only completed 47.6% of his 21 passes, one of his two long balls, and didn’t attempt any crosses. He got one off-target shot off and was called offside once.

MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 6.5 — Pereyra has been in good form recently and had another good game in this one. The midfielder completed 85.4% of his 48 passes and had four key passes. He completed two of his five crosses, seven of his eight long balls, and took one off-target shot. Defensively, Pereyra recorded one tackle and one interception.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 6 — After being out with a non-COVID related illness, Araujo rejoined the lineup and was his old self. The midfielder recorded a team-high four tackles and one interception. He completed 85% of his 40 passes and three of his five long balls. Araujo was also credited with an assist on Torres’ early second-half goal after a great long throw-in that found the head of Ercan Kara.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 5.5 — It wasn’t a bad game by Angulo, but he only had 19 touches. The attacking midfielder completed 81.8% of his 11 passes and his only cross attempt was successful. He didn’t have any key passes or shots in the game but did have one tackle.

MF, Junior Urso, 6 — Urso had a good game but it should’ve been better. He completed 87.8% of his 41 passes, though none were key passes. He drew a team-high four fouls and took two off-target shots, which he should’ve done better with. Defensively, Urso recorded one tackle and had one interception.

MF, Facundo Torres, 6.5 (MotM) — Torres had a really good game, completing 88.9% of his 36 passes, including two key passes. His three crosses were incomplete but he completed his only long ball. He took a team-high five shots with one being on target. The biggest impact by Torres was his 47th-minute goal that gave the Lions an early second half lead.

F, Ercan Kara, 6 — Kara didn’t find the target on any of his three shots, but he completed 88.9% of his nine passes, including two key passes. In the 47th minute, he flicked a long Araujo throw-in to Torres behind him, resulting in the Lions’ goal.

Substitutes

F, Benji Michel (67’), 5.5 — Michel came on in the 67th minute for Kara, right after the equalizing goal by NYCFC. He only had six touches and completed both of his passes. In the 86th minute, Moutinho found Michel on NYCFC’s half of the field and it looked like the Lions would have a chance for an equalizer, but he took a heavy touch and ended up committing a foul to end the attack.

F, Tesho Akindele (74’), 5.5 — Akindele came on for Angulo in the 74th minute. He didn’t have a big impact, only recording five touches, but completed all five of his passes, including one key pass. However, the forward didn’t get any shots off.

D, Kyle Smith (74’), 5 — Smith came on with Akindele, replacing Ruan. The defender had seven touches and completed three of his six passes. He attempted one inaccurate long ball and recorded one tackle.

MF, Jake Mulraney (85’), N/A — Mulraney came on in the 85th minute for Araujo and was virtually non-existent. The midfielder only had one touch and he lost possession with it. That was the only statistic for the substitute.


That’s how I saw the individual performances for the Lions in this disappointing loss. Let us know how you saw the game and don’t forget to vote for your Man of the Match below.

Polling Closed

PlayerVotes
Facundo Torres14
Mauricio Pereyra2
Cesar Araujo0
Ercan Kara1
Rodrigo Schlegel0
Other (Tell us in the comments below)1

Orlando City

Flashback Friday: April 13, 2018 — Orlando City vs. Philadelphia Union

Hop in the time machine as we reminisce about a classic Orlando City game from six years ago.

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Carlos Romero, The Mane Land

During the two-week break we’ve had since Orlando City’s last competitive match, I’ve had some time to go back and revisit some of the matches that the team has played in the past. What better thing to do when considering the heavy emphasis that the club has placed on its 10th season as a member of Major League Soccer?

So, before the Lions take on D.C. United tomorrow, let’s hop in the time machine and reminisce about a game that OCSC played six years ago — almost to the day.

The date was Saturday, April 13, 2018, and the Lions found themselves on the road in Philadelphia. The Jason Kreis-coached team had won two games on the bounce and entered the contest with a record of 2-2-1 (7 points), while the Union sat at 1-1-2 (5 points). The Orlando team sheet on the day looked wildly different from what we’re used to seeing these days, as no one on that gameday roster is still with the club. Kreis deployed his team in a 4-2-3-1, which will be plenty familiar to Orlando fans by now, but that was where the similarities ended.

Philadelphia’s XI had a few familiar faces however, with Andre Blake in goal, Jack Elliot at center back, Matt Real at left back, and Alejandro Bedoya in midfield.

The Union began the game strong, with Keegan Rosenberry getting off a shot from long distance, and David Accam beating RJ Allen down the right and delivering a dangerous cross that fortunately didn’t have any teammates attacking it. Despite the slow start, Orlando almost opened the scoring just inside 10 minutes when Amro Tarek had a shot cleared off the line after being picked out by Yoshi Yotun from a corner.

Philadelphia continued to be dangerous, and Orlando’s task got more difficult when Allen went down with a hamstring issue in the 21st minute. The Lions were already missing Jonathan Spector through concussion and Scott Sutter with the dreaded lower body injury, so Cristian Higuita entered the fray while Will Johnson moved to right back.

The Lions’ resilience paid dividends a few minutes before halftime. Dom Dwyer timed a perfect run to stay level with Real, and Sacha Kljestan delivered him the ball by way of an outstanding lifted pass. Dwyer showed outstanding invention to settle the pass using his back, and then turned to curl the ball beyond Blake for the game’s first goal and the 99th of his career.

The goal seemed to unlock something in the good guys, as the first-half-fun didn’t end there. The second goal of the night had a bit of fortune to it, as Chris Mueller collected the ball in midfield and drove toward the box. A heavy touch meant he lost the ball, but Philadelphia couldn’t clear its lines and the ball came right back to him off the foot of Elliot. From there, it was a simple matter of taking a touch to settle himself and then firing low and hard past Blake and into the far corner.

The Lions took that 2-0 lead into halftime, but after the restart they once again found the Union streaming forward toward their goal. Bendik made his second big save of the night in the 53rd minute from a Fafa Picault shot, and it wasn’t the last time he was called on, as he denied Bedoya in the 62nd minute.

Justin Meram provided some moments of danger as the half wore on, and probably should have had an assist as the clock struck 90 minutes, but Dwyer fired his shot off target. Bendik had to make one big final save in the 94th minute to stop Borek Dockal’s effort, and when the whistle blew for full time the Lions’ had escaped with a 2-0 win.

The home side finished with 55% of the ball to Orlando’s 45%, and outshot OCSC by a whopping 20-8, but a lack of clinical finishing proved to be the Union’s undoing (sound familiar?).

That win meant the good guys had won three on the bounce, and a strong start to the season continued as that streak ultimately stretched all the way to six victories in a row. Sadly, the good vibes didn’t last. The last league win of that six-game streak came on May 6 in a 3-1 home victory over Real Salt Lake, and then the bottom fell out. The Lions lost nine straight league games, Kreis lost his job after the sixth of those losses, and Orlando only won two more league games for the remainder of the season.


Ultimately, the 2018 season proved to be the most difficult that the club has endured since joining MLS. OCSC’s total of 28 points is the lowest that the team has ever finished with in a season, and only a truly woeful San Jose side prevented the Lions from claiming the Wooden Spoon. Still, the win over Philadelphia — and the win streak that it was part of — were bright spots early in the year, and it’s always fun to look back on those. With a little luck, the Lions will get a similar result on the road against D.C. United tomorrow. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/12/24

Orlando Pride play in Utah tonight, Orlando City B earns a point, Europa League quarterfinals begin, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City B

Happy Friday! I hope this week has gone smoothly for you as we gear up for even more Orlando soccer tonight and tomorrow. It should be a nice next few days, even if I’m working for most of it. I don’t have many plans outside of work beyond bonding with my cat and trying a new stuffed bread recipe. Let’s dive into today’s links from around the soccer world!

Orlando Pride Play the Utah Royals Tonight

The Orlando Pride are on the road tonight for a showdown with the Utah Royals at 9:30 p.m., and you can catch the game on NWSL+ or through Bally Sports if you’re local. Although the Royals are an expansion team this year, the Pride last squared off against the previous Royals back in 2019, with Orlando losing all three games to Utah that season. This season, the Pride are riding a three-game unbeaten streak. However, they are also still on the hunt for their first win after three consecutive draws. While the offense awaits the arrival of Zambian striker Barbra Banda, the Pride have managed to score off of a set piece in each of their three games so far. While a draw on the road wouldn’t be awful by any means, hopefully the Pride can get a solid tally in the win column tonight.

Orlando City B Draws Philadelphia Union II

OCB went on the road to take on Philadelphia Union II and earned a single point after a 1-1 draw and penalty shootout. The two teams traded goals in the first half, but the Young Lions were on the back foot for most of the second half. While Orlando’s offense sputtered, the defense survived chance after chance from Philadelphia to send the game to a shootout. Orlando lost the lengthy shootout, 7-6, claiming just one point, but at least the Young Lions didn’t leave Pennsylvania empty handed. Hopefully OCB can return to its winning ways when it faces off with Crown Legacy FC on April 19.

New York City FC Stadium Plans Finally Approved

Plans to build a soccer-specific stadium in Queens for new grounds for New York City FC were approved by New York City officials. It will be a $780 million stadium expected to open in 2027 and serves as the centerpiece of a redevelopment project in the neighborhood. The 25,000-seat stadium will be right next to Citi Field, which has been one of the many home venues for NYCFC over the years since joining as an expansion side alongside Orlando City in 2015. It’s a bit wild that this stadium is set to open 10 years after Orlando christened its own soccer-specific stadium back in 2017. At least the Lions won’t have to play road games at baseball stadiums for much longer.

Europa League Quarterfinals Kick Off

The Europa League quarterfinals are underway, with the remaining eight teams squaring off in the first legs of their matchups. In England, Atalanta leaned on a brace from Gianluca Scamacca and stellar defense to win 3-0 against Liverpool. Bayer Leverkusen’s unbeaten streak stretched to 42 games after it beat West Ham United 2-0, thanks to a pair of late goals. The first match between Italian clubs AC Milan and Roma went to the visitors, as Roma scored early on and held on for a 1-0 win at San Siro. The only quarterfinal that wasn’t a shutout took place in Portugal, with Benfica beating Marseille, 2-1. The second legs will all take place at the same time next week, which should make for an exciting Thursday afternoon of soccer.

Free Kicks


That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!

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Orlando City

Orlando City at D.C. United: Three Keys to Victory

What does Orlando City need to do to earn its first away victory of the season?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Jeremy Reper

Orlando City is back in action this Saturday night against D.C. United at Audi Field. Despite coming off back-to-back results, the off-week was well timed for the Lions. A little extra rest for the squad, plus giving players time to recuperate from various knocks should mean a nearly full strength Orlando City.

What does Orlando City need to do to earn all three points on the road against its Eastern Conference rivals?

The Dynamic Duo Return

Cesar Araujo returned to the Orlando City lineup against the New York Red Bulls, meaning the Lions should finally have their top choice defensive midfield pairing back together. The timing couldn’t be more perfect given Orlando City will be dealing with D.C. United striker Christian Benteke. He has five goals in five matches, which is half of the 10 goals D.C. United has scored all season.

So far this regular season, every match in which the Lions give up more than one goal has resulted in a loss. Keeping Benteke and the rest of D.C. United off of the score sheet is critical to getting a result. Orlando City can concede one goal and still walk away with points on the road, but only if the Lions manage to accomplish the next key below.

Goals are the Goal

To say Orlando City has been wasteful in front of goal is a bit of an understatement. So far this regular season, the Lions have 93 shots, with 27 on target, but only five goals. Orlando City has created scoring opportunities, but failed to convert them in anything close to an efficient manner. Of the five goals scored, Duncan McGuire has two, Nico Lodeiro has one, and Jack Lynn has one. The other was credited as an own goal on Lynn’s backheel attempt.

The list of players who haven’t scored yet this season is too long to type, but I don’t need goals from the defenders — though I will take them. I just need Facundo Torres, Ivan Angulo, Luis Muriel, and Martin Ojeda to get something going. Ideally, all four of them score in this match, but I’ll take whatever goals we can get.

End the Trend

Orlando City hasn’t fared well against D.C. United recently. Nearly a year ago, the Lions lost at home 3-1 to the visitors. The last trip to Audi Field was a 1-1 draw in which Orlando City gave up a goal in the 80th minute to settle for a single point. In 2022, Orlando City lost both matches to D.C. United. It’s time to get things going in the right direction.

The Lions also need to stop losing on the road. Losses to Inter Miami and Atlanta both came on the road, with Orlando City yet to find any points away from home. Last season, the Lions were veritable road warriors. The team needs to find that form again as it was a major reason the club finished second in the Supporters’ Shield race.


That is what I will be looking for this weekend as Orlando City takes on D.C. United. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Vamos Orlando!

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