Orlando City

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



Orlando City continued the 2023 MLS Regular Season campaign with a 0-0 draw against visiting FC Cincinnati. Orlando City rolled out a heavily rotated squad for the match against the Orange and Blue ahead of the first leg of the club’s Concacaf Champions League match-up Tuesday at Tigres. Let’s take a look at how each Lion performed individually in week two.


GK, Pedro Gallese, 7.5 (MotM) — Gallese made four saves to earn his second clean sheet of the season and to help salvage one point at home. Facing a trio of dangerous attackers, Gallese did well to save four shots on the night in a myriad of different ways. His best save of the night came in the 29th minute on a Luciano Acosta free kick from just outside the box. He was successful on 80.8% of his passing attempts, including six long balls. On a night when there was very little help on the offensive side of the pitch and the visitors controlled the possession for a majority of the match, El Pulpo came up big when the club needed him most.

D, Kyle Smith, 6 — Smith was inserted into the starting XI at left center back for the first half as Oscar Pareja played a three-man back line for the opening 45 minutes. He then played fullback when Robin Jansson came on to start the second half, departing when Luca Petrasso was brought on as the final substitute of the night for OCSC. Turning in a performance that one has come to expect from Smith isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but there were several times when Smith found himself beaten down the sideline. To his credit, he was often able to recover, but he did get burned badly by Luciano Acosta in the 54th minute and luckily watched the shot go wide. Smith passed at 82.7%, was accurate with two of three long balls, and was responsible for one turnover. He did not attempt a shot but did provide one key pass. He also recorded three tackles, one interception, and two clearances and won 33% of his headed duels.

D, Abdi Salim, 5.5 — MLS SuperDraft pick Salim logged his first official MLS start, going the full 90 minutes. It was a bit of a mixed bag debut for the young draft pick who started with Smith and Rodrigo Schlegel as one of the three center backs. After the break, he played a more traditional center back role on the right, paired with Jansson. A little inconsistency is to be expected from a rookie when facing a team with the attacking options that FC Cincinnati has, and at times Salim seemed to be caught off guard and out of position by the pace and explosiveness of Cincinnati’s attackers. He recorded two tackles, a team-high three interceptions, and a clearance. He passed at 87% on the night, completed his lone long ball attempt, and was responsible for one turnover.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 6.5 — With an injured Antonio Carlos and a starting squad with heavy rotation, Schlegel functioned as the de facto leader of the back line in the first half and was mostly solid in his 45 minutes on the pitch. Passing at a 93% rate in the first half, Schlegel was a stead force and logged his second straight match without recording a foul. He did not record any defensive statistics but had one off-target shot attempt and completed one of his two long-ball attempts.

WB/D, Michael Halliday, 6 — Halliday logged his second straight start at right back (more of a wingback for the opening 45 minutes) and continued to show growth and development. He logged 71 minutes and his brightest moment was running onto a laser of a pass from Robin Jansson in the second half and then laying a pass off for Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, who put his shot attempt just above the bar for one of the best scoring chances of the night. At times, Halliday was caught up field and out of position, which is part of playing wingback — especially against a good transition team like Cincinnati — but he looked more comfortable than last week. Halliday logged one interception and committed one foul while passing at an 83% clip. He did not record an accurate cross on one attempt and was inaccurate with his one long ball. He finished with a team-high four tackles, an interception, and two clearances.

MF, Wilder Cartagena, 5.5 — It wasn’t a perfect night for the defensive midfielder who was inserted into the starting lineup to provide rotation and rest for Ceasar Arajuo. While Cartagena passed at a decent 88% on the night, going 0/1 on crosses and 1/2 on long balls. He had a few too many careless giveaways or simply inaccurate passes which prevented the Lions from breaking out of their own end. He was booked for a questionable yellow in the 28th minute and was successful on two of his four tackle attempts. Cartagena also recorded one interception and logged two clearances.

MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 5 — The Orlando City captain logged his 100th competitive match in purple across all competitions, but the century mark match proved to be one of Pereyra’s shakier games in recent memory. The Uruguayan passed at an abysmal 74% success rate (his lowest percentage since Aug. 13. of last season against the New York Red Bulls). He recorded no key passes and was 0/1 on crosses and 3/5 on long balls. He had two shot attempts on the night, which were both blocked, including a poor attempt on a dangerous free kick chance in the 14th minute, and was only successful on one of his five tackle attempts. Ultimately, this will be a match to forget for a handful of reasons and Pereyra’s first-half effort will be among that list. The captain was subbed off at halftime for Araujo.

WB/MF, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 6 — Another Lion logging his first official MLS start, Dagur Dan went the distance for Orlando City in the midfield, playing out on the left and switching spots with Gaston Gonzalez often. The Icelandic midfielder passed at an 86% success rate, was inaccurate on his one cross attempt but completed his only long ball. Thorhallsson was dispossessed twice and could have done better on his one shot attempt, which sailed over the bar. He drew one foul, recorded two successful dribbles, and logged two tackles.

MF, Gaston Gonzalez, 5.5— Orlando City fans were able to see Gonzalez in action for the first time as the MLS U22 Initiative signing from last season has finally rehabbed from an ACL tear. Any fitness concerns should be squelched as Gonzalez went the full 90 for Orlando City in his debut match. He connected on 19 of his 21 passing attempts for a 90% success rate, however, he was just 1/3 on crosses and did not complete his only long ball. Gonzalez committed three fouls, and won Orlando City one corner but otherwise did not log too many other meaningful stats in his inaugural match, although he had one clearance defensively. There were attempts at breaking down opponents 1-v-1, but it appears for now Gonzalez needs more time to develop chemistry with his teammates and more game time to get back to his former self, as he attempted no shots, provided no key passes, was dispossessed once, and had three unstable touches.

MF, Facundo Torres, 5.5 — It felt like watching the game live that for most of the first half, Orlando City could have done a better job at trying to find Torres in space. The Young Designated Player — and the offense as a whole — struggled for the second straight game. Torres only logged one shot, which was off target, and only recorded 47 total touches for the match. He passed at a 78.6% rate on 28 attempts, providing two key passes and went 1/2 on crosses and completede his only long ball. Torres was dispossessed once, had one unstable touch, and completed three of five total attempted dribbles, but again there seemed to be some disconnect in the attacking third. The attack needs work and Orlando City needs Torres to be a catalyst to get in back in gear. Defensively, Torres supplied one interception and one clearance.

F, Ercan Kara, 4.5 — Stop me if you have heard this one before, but Kara needs accurate service to be the most effective version of himself, and for the second match in a row Orlando City struggled to get the striker involved. Some of that is a credit to 6-foot-4 center back Matt Miazga’s play for FC Cincinnati. Kara recorded only 17 touches in the match, showing how starved for service the Lions’ center forward was on the night. His isolation limited him to 46.2% passing as he struggled to find teammates in traffic. He won two aerials but recorded no shots or key passes in 65 minutes of gameplay before being subbed off for Ivan Angulo. Defensively, he contributed a blocked shot.


D, Robin Jansson (46’), 6 — Coming out of the halftime break, Jansson replaced Schlegel as the team transitioned to a more traditional four-man back line. After a shaky debut match last week, Jansson seemed more settled and had the best long ball out of any player on the pitch when he sprung Halliday down the right side of the field, ultimately resulting in an open look for Dagur Dan. He passed at a 79% success rate, completed three of six long balls, won one aerial duel, and did not record a tackle but did log a vital blocked shot near the end of the match and finished with two clearances.

MF, Cesar Araujo (46’), 6.5 — Out of the starting lineup presumably to remain fresher for the upcoming trip to Mexico, Araujo entered the match after the break and demonstrated much better form than in the season opener. Araujo passed at a 91% clip in the second half and was successful on both of his attempted long balls and his one through ball. Defensively, Araujo drew two fouls on Cincinnati, recorded one successful tackle, and added an interception. Towards the end of the match, Araujo could be found drifting more into the attacking third of the match where he was credited with one shot attempt and had the Lions’ only shot on target of the evening, albeit a weak dribbler that offered no trouble to Roman Celentano. While the offense figures out that the ball is supposed to go in the back of the net, it will be imperative that Araujo continues to lock down force in the defensive midfield.

MF, Martín Ojeda (60’), 5.5 — Ojeda entered the game in the 60th minute to relieve Torres and recorded one shot in the 79th minute which was a scorcher that missed the target high and left from outside the 18 as he tried to catch Celentano off his line. He was accurate on 85.7% of his 21 passing attempts and his only long ball but his one cross attempt did not find the target. He contributed one interception. Due to player rotation in this match, very little was accomplished in terms of gaining experience and building chemistry between the three Designated Players as Ojeda replaced Torres, and Kara was subbed off five minutes after Ojeda entered the field.

MF, Ivan Angulo (65’), 5.5 — Angulo replaced Kara in the 65th minute and was largely ineffective for the final 25 minutes of the match, He was dispossessed twice, completed 86% of his passes, and did not record a shot attempt. He finished with one tackle and just 15 total touches.

D, Luca Petrasso (71’), 6 — Petrasso came into the match in the 71st minute for Halliday, which sent Kyle Smith to the right side of the pitch. There was some early aggression and concentrated efforts to get into the attacking third from Petrasso but he failed on a few occasions to link up with teammates or to send the ball into the box. He passed at 85.7%, but his only cross attempt was inaccurate. He did not record a tackle, interception, or shot attempt.

That’s how I saw the individual performances in the first draw of the season 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

Rodrigo Schlegel11
Robin Jansson17
Dagur Dan Thorhallsson1
Pedro Gallese139
Cesar Araujo1
Someone Else (tell us in the comments)1


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