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Orlando City

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



In Orlando City’s first match since ending its Concacaf Champions League run midweek, the Lions remained at home at Exploria Stadium, but walked away with their first league loss, 2-1 to Charlotte FC. Martín Ojeda opened his scoring account with Orlando City, but the team was already trying to catch back up from the two-goal deficit it spotted the visitors in the first half.

While Orlando had chances at intervals throughout the night, the Lions yet again lacked the potency to finish that is required to win in this league. Charlotte FC finds its first three points of the season at the expense of Orlando. Here’s how each Lion individually performed in the loss.


GK, Pedro Gallese, 5.5 — Gallese has bailed the club out night after night this season, but the like everything in life, all good things come to an end. He made his first massive save of the night in the 25th minute when McKinze Gaines fired a shot from the right side of the box. However, just moments later Enzo Copetti was able to beat Gallese 1-v-1 in the 26th minute and the Peruvian likely should have done better. He came up with two saves and four clearances. He was accurate on four of seven long balls and completed 89.7% of his 29 passes.

D, Rafael Santos, 4 — If you forgot to look at the team sheet, you might not even know Santos was out there. It was a forgettable match for the left back that ultimately saw him excused at the interval. He made efforts to overlap down the line, but his teammates refused to pass him the ball at times. When he did find himself on the ball, he was only able to complete 60% of his 28 passes and did not complete any of his four long ball attempts. Defensively, Santos made only one tackle and intercepted the ball twice. It will be interesting to see how long before Head Coach Oscar Pareja calls upon his services again.

D, Robin Jansson, 6 — The center back came up big with his body on the line in the third minute with a block in the six-yard box that could have easily been a tap-in opportunity for Charlotte. However, Jansson later found himself on the wrong side of Copetti on Charlotte’s opening goal when the striker was played over the top. The Beefy Swede once again was the anchor of Orlando City’s back line and led the team with five clearances, four tackles, and an interception. He also led the team in passes with 88 at an 84% rate and had 101 touches. He completed five of his 13 long balls and had a key pass to his name.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 5 — Schlegel found himself in a tough match-up with Copetti. There was a clear talent gap on the night. For Schlegel, perhaps only allowing Copetti one goal would actually be considered a win in his book. But unfortunately for the fans, it does not equate to a win in the standings column. Schlegel made four tackles with as many clearances alongside two interceptions. He was third on the team in passes, with 60, but only completed those at a 76.7% rate and turned it over several times in his own end. He aired out 11 long balls, with six of those finding the target. This likely won’t be a performance that Schlegel looks back fondly upon and only highlights the need for Antonio Carlos to return to action as the Argentine has played a lot of minutes in a short amount of time. It showed on this night.

D, Michael Halliday, 6 — The young right back had another fair performance and looked dangerous going forward with Charlotte playing too narrow at times. He was quick down the sideline to serve up crosses in the first half, but he was slow to understand Kerwin Vargas’ gameplay. Vargas showed that he was a very right-footed player early in the match, but Halliday let him cut inside to his right foot in the 37th minute, which led to Charlotte’s second goal of the night. Halliday had two key passes among his 26 total, which were completed at 80.8%. Defensively, he offered up two tackles, an interception, and a foul. He cleared the ball four times out of danger, but as previously mentioned, not when his team needed him most. Hopefully, Halliday can learn from this mistake and correct it for his next outing.

MF, César Araújo, 5.5 — Usually, Araújo is the nonstop defensive engine in the midfield. However, he seemed to disappear at times throughout the night, although that’s not necessarily bad for a defensive midfielder. He only had one clearance, a tackle, and committed a foul. He also found himself fouled three times. From an offensive standpoint, Araújo was accurate with 88.7% of his passes completed, 53 total. He added another two key passes and completed four of his nine long balls.

MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 5 — The captain did well to find himself linking lines from the back to the front in the second half; however, the team needed him to do that from the beginning. With 87 touches, Pereyra clearly does well finding the ball — or his teammates do well to find him — but ultimately it amounts to nothing as he lies so back deep in the park. He had two key passes and 74 total passes, completing them at a 75.7% success rate. His biggest offensive area for improvement could be his long balls. Sitting so deep, he really has to make more of his chances when trying to link from distance. Pereyra was only accurate on three of his 11 long balls. Defensively, he offered zero tackles, interceptions, or clearances. The lack of defensive statistics continues to beg the question as to why he is still utilized as more of a box-to-box midfield role than playing his natural No. 10 position.

MF, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 4 — While he might have the best name on the field, the midfielder didn’t have the best performance out there. The Icelandic midfielder completed one dribble but sent his lone shot just over the target. He made only 13 passes and completed 84.6% of them but did not log a single defensive statistic. Thorhallsson will need to put this performance behind him and get back to his previous form as quickly as a possible.

F, Martín Ojeda, 7 (MotM) — The Designated Player might have played what could be considered his best game of the season so far. Just minutes into the match he finished off a cross from Halliday but unfortunately mistimed his run and the goal was called back for offside. Ojeda did end up finding the net for the first time in purple though in the 57th minute, smashing in a square pass from McGuire at the six-yard box. In total, Ojeda led the team with seven shots on the night, with two of them on target. While he only had 40 touches and 22 passes, he made the most of them by completing 77.3% of them. He had one key pass and was one-for-two on long ball attempts. Defensively, Ojeda added three tackles and a clearance, while fouling one Charlotte player along the way. If Orlando can get a few performances in a row from Ojeda like this, the DP might just find the form he needs to really make a name for himself in the league this season.

F, Facundo Torres, 6 — It is quickly becoming apparent that opponents realize the need to neutralize Torres as quickly as possible. He was lively early in the night, putting his only shot on goal in the eighth minute, forcing the keeper to make the save. But after this chance, he never really found separation again or a chance to make a decent run towards goal. He passed up a couple of opportunities to shoot in the second half. Torres only found himself on the ball 48 times in the match which is low for what you would hope your playmaker to contribute. However, he completed 93% of his passes and had four key passes, one accurate cross, and two accurate long balls. His ball in behind for Duncan McGuire led to a scoring chance and, ultimately, Ojeda’s goal. He also had one interception.

F, Duncan McGuire, 6.5 — McGuire had yet another decent run out for the Lions. In the 18th minute, the rookie found himself inside the box and, despite contact, remained upright to fire a shot on goal. Another player might have gone to ground to force the referee to make a decision, but McGuire scrambled to his feet and got off a decent shot. McGuire also found himself on the receiving end of a Halliday cross in the 34th minute, but was once again stopped by the goalkeeper. McGuire’s biggest moment of the night was using his body to get in behind on goal and forcing a save. He quickly sent the rebound sideways to Ojeda for the Lions’ goal. All three of his shots were on target and called the keeper into action. And this is really what the club needs — someone to put the ball on frame consistently. McGuire also had one dribble and two key passes, but found himself offside twice. He won an aerial duel, made a clearance, and added two tackles. It might be early to say in the season, but with Ercan Kara struggling to stay fit and on the field, McGuire might just be the Lions’ most reliable striker for the time being.


D, Kyle Smith (46’), 6 — The veteran played on his off side but helped the team get things going down that side. Smith seemed more apt to not only make quicker runs down the left touch line but also stay goal side of his attackers. He may have only played for the second half, but he finished with 48 touches. His 86.5% success rate on 37 passes was respectable, and he was able to get off two crosses. His sole long ball also hit the mark. He also made two tackles and had an interception.

MF/D, Iván Angulo (46’), 5.5 — The lackluster first half for the Lions really left the door open for a substitute to come change the game. Angulo brought that spark to the attack early in the second half with his pace and energy. He should have done better with his shot from the top of the box in the 54th minute, which could have put Orlando back in the game, but ultimately scuffed it wide. Both shots he took missed the frame. After 27 minutes in the attack, Angulo found himself repositioned to a defensive role once Gaston Gonzalez entered the match to claim the left wing. Even in a more defensive position, Angulo logged no tackles and only one interception. He completed 84.2% of 19 total passes with two key passes. Angulo seemed to be playing better in the attack before he was bumped deeper, which is logical given his normal position.

F, Ramiro Enrique (67’), 5 — Coming on for McGuire in the second half, Enrique found himself flicking a header towards goal with his first touch but put the effort just over the crossbar. Enrique’s best moment of the night came in the 79th minute as he chipped the goalkeeper and found the net, but the assistant referee raised the flag for offside as he was working back to a legal position. He only had 11 touches and did not complete any of his three passes. He offered one tackle for the team, but he was a clear drop from the performance McGuire was putting on.

MF, Gaston Gonzalez (73’), 4.5 — The winger took one shot but missed the target. He only had 14 touches and completed all six of his passes. He completed one of his three crosses and his one long ball, but Gonzalez often finds himself not getting on the end of his teammates’ balls coming his way. He really seems to be struggling to find his form. Given his return from injury, that’s not too concerning just yet, but if this continues he could find himself lower in the rotation.

F, Jack Lynn (82’), N/A — The forward came on for Araújo late in the match to make his 2023 season debut as Oscar Pareja decided to throw the kitchen sink at the match for a result. Lynn found himself in behind the back line in the 85th minute and forced a remarkable save to keep the Lions from leveling the score. He completed his only pass with his other of two total touches.

That’s how I saw the individual performances in Orlando’s first loss of the season. Let me know your thoughts in the comments and be sure to vote for your Man of the Match below.

Polling Closed

Robin Jansson50
Duncan McGuire19
Martín Ojeda23
Michael Halliday0
Facundo Torres0
Other (Tell us in the comments below)0

Lion Links

Lion Links: 12/2/23

The Pride sign a new keeper, the MLS playoffs continue, the USWNT is in action, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Salutations on this satisfactory Saturday, Mane Landers. We’re heading for the home stretch of 2023, and what a year it has been. Make sure that you are catching all of our Season in Review articles for both the Orlando City and Orlando Pride players. Things tend to happen personnel-wise in December, so be prepared. Until then, let’s check out today’s links. But first, let’s wish a happy 26th birthday to Orlando City goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar.

Pride Sign a New Keeper

The Orlando Pride signed Finnish goalkeeper Sofia Manner from FC Honka of Finland’s top flight, the Kansallinen Liiga. With the addition of Manner, the Pride have four keepers on the roster heading into 2024. Manner is expected to compete for the starting job, though the same could be said of both Anna Moorhouse and Carly Nelson. It is unlikely all four netminders will be on the Pride once the season starts. Manner has international experience and was the best keeper in the Kansallinen Liiga.

MLS Conference Finals Tonight

I wouldn’t blame you if you decided not to watch the remainder of the MLS playoffs after last weekend’s disappointing result. However, if you are going see how it all sorts out, you might want to study up on the matches. We’re all too aware that the Columbus Crew will be facing FC Cincinnati to see which club wins the Eastern Conference. Over on the other side, LAFC will take on the Houston Dynamo to determine the Western Conference champion.

MLS Player Moves

As the playoffs come to a close, the signings and transfers around the league are ramping up, but who will stay and who will go? New York Red Bulls midfielder Dru Yearwood is heading to Nashville SC as reported by The Athletic (paywalled) since Dax McCarthy is out of contract there and won’t be returning.

The Philadelphia Union have signed midfielder Jesus Bueno to a new three-year contract through 2026 with an option for 2027. Meanwhile, Gustavo Bou won’t be returning to the New England Revolution. So, um…maybe he’d like to come south and score goals for Orlando City rather than against the Lions? Before anyone gets too crazy, it should be on a non-DP deal.

USWNT Hosts China

The USWNT is back in friendly action against China this afternoon in Ft. Lauderdale at 3 p.m. and then on Tuesday, Dec. 5 at 8 p.m. in Frisco TX. Interim head coach Twila Kilgore will be in charge since newly-named Head Coach Emma Hayes doesn’t start until the 2023-2024 Women’s Super League season in England is over. Hayes is the current head coach of Chelsea FC Women’s. This is the first match between the two teams since 2018, and a lot has changed. The USWNT has been very solid on defense in 2023, allowing only two goals back in the SheBelieves Cup.

Free Kicks

  • If you haven’t heard of a “sin bin,” think of it like a penalty box in hockey. The idea has been getting a runout in lower league matches in English football by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) with some good results. It’s not yet confirmed, but MLS may institute the change in 2024. The idea is to reduce dissension by having a player sit for 10 minutes during a match. Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou has spoken out against the idea. What do you think of the concept?
  • Real Salt Lake has promoted Kurt Schmid to sporting director and interim chief soccer officer.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo will have to deal with a $1 billion class-action lawsuit for his role in promoting NFTs for Binance. Maybe that’s why he signed for Al-Nassr in the Saudi Pro League?
  • Speaking of the Saudi Pro League, it looks like Mohamed Salah may not be leaving EPL side Liverpool anytime soon. The prolific striker is looking for a new contract to stay at Anfield.
  • I’ll take things Pedro Gallese would not do for $400, Alex.

That will do it for today. Please go forth and enjoy your weekend!

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2023 Orlando City Season in Review: Kyle Smith

Let’s look back at The Accountant’s fifth MLS season.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Fullback Kyle Smith was originally signed on Dec. 21, 2018 when James O’Connor was Orlando City’s head coach. He proved to be a valuable Swiss Army knife-type player and earned a new contract on March 29, 2021 through the 2022 season with a 2023 club option. Orlando City picked up his 2023 option at the end of the 2022 season but then signed Smith to a new one-year contract for 2023 just weeks later with an option for 2024.

Let’s have a look back at The Accountant’s fifth MLS season.

Statistical Breakdown

Smith appeared in 25 matches during the 2023 regular season, starting 17 times and logging 1,501 minutes. It was his third-most appearances but his second-most minutes since making the jump from Louisville City to MLS ahead of the 2019 season. He scored one goal and assisted on three others, setting a new career high in the latter category. Smith attempted seven shots, putting two on target. He passed at a 78.7% clip, including nine key passes, five successful crosses, and 36 successful long passes. Defensively, Smith recorded 35 tackles, 16 interceptions, 40 clearances, and two blocked shots. He drew eight fouls while committing 20 and was booked five times on the year.

The 31-year-old appeared in all three of Orlando City’s three playoff matches — both off the bench — and logged 65 minutes. He did not score a goal or assist on one, attempting one shot, which he put on frame. He passed at an 82.5% rate in the postseason. He posted two tackles and a clearance defensively. He did not commit a foul or draw one and he wasn’t booked.

In the 2023 Concacaf Champions League, Smith came off the bench in the first leg at Tigres, playing minutes, passing at just a 25% rate (small sample size), did not attempt a shot, did not draw or concede a foul, and was not booked.

During Leagues Cup play, Smith appeared in all three of Orlando’s matches (all starts), logging 150 minutes. He did not contribute to a goal or attempt a shot in the tournament, committing four fouls and earning two yellow cards. Smith did not play in Orlando City’s lone U.S. Open Cup match.

Best Game

Smith’s best match of 2023 came in Orlando City’s 1-1 home draw against Atlanta United on May 27, and not only because that’s when he scored his lone goal of the season, although that doesn’t hurt. El Soldado started and went the full 90 minutes. He fired two shots on the night, putting one on target (and in the net), and passed at an exceptional 90.3% rate on 31 attempts, which was his third-best passing night of the season. He completed two successful long balls on two attempts, chipping in four clearances (second only to Antonio Carlos), a tackle, and an interception on the night. His big moment came in the 30th minute, when a well-worked attack up the left kicked out to him on the right side. Smith was perfectly positioned and made no mistake in putting the Lions ahead 1-0.

Although the match was spoiled by a late equalizer, Smith turned in one of his best performances since joining Orlando City and if not for his goal, the outcome might have been a lot more somber than a 1-1 draw.

2023 Final Grade

Smith received a composite score of 6 out of 10 for his 2023 performance from The Mane Land staff. This is an improvement over the 5.5 he earned last year but slightly below the 6.5 he earned for the 2021 season. Previously, Smith was given a 5.5 in 2020 and he got the same score after the 2019 season. The staff awarded Smith for his effort, versatility, and willingness to do whatever it takes to win. He is the quintessential team player. But beyond all of the above, he simply played well most of his minutes on the pitch. At his age, he’s going to struggle to contain the league’s speediest wing players, particularly when playing on his weaker left side, but his ability to adapt is unquestioned. The perfect example of that was when he was tucking inside from his fullback spot earlier in the season to add an additional player to the midfield and freeing Facundo Torres up to have more space in which to operate on the right side.

2024 Outlook

Smith’s return may ultimately rest with whether or not Oscar Pareja stays on with the Lions, although a decision might need to be made earlier than that, as the club must make a decision on his option. Pareja has valued Smith’s versatility and work ethic over the last few years, and with more competitions and matches than ever before, it’s always good to have a depth player who can plug and play in multiple positions. He played his second-most MLS minutes in 2023, so he’s still seeing the field plenty.

If I had to guess, and this section is for exactly that, I’d say the club will either exercise his option or sign him to a new one-year deal with an option year for 2025. However, what complicates matters is that Smith is over age 24 and has played five MLS seasons, which means he’s eligible for free agency. If he’s back in 2024, I would expect him to again be a key backup at both fullback positions, getting some spot starts in U.S. Open Cup or when fixture congestion is heavy.

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2023 Orlando City Season in Review: Abdi Salim

We continue our Orlando City player retrospectives with a look at one of the Lions’ 2023 draft picks.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City used its third pick of the 2023 MLS SuperDraft to select Abdi Salim with the 17th overall pick. Salim played his college soccer at Syracuse and the Lions picked up the center back to help with depth at a position that didn’t really have a ton of established bodies behind Antonio Carlos, Robin Jansson, and Rodrigo Schlegel. He was then signed to a one-year deal in February that contained three option years for the 2024, 2025, and 2026 seasons.

Let’s have a look at Salim’s first season as a professional.

Statistical Breakdown

Salim made his Major League Soccer debut at home against FC Cincinnati on March 4. It was Salim’s only start of the year and he went the full 90 minutes as the Lions drew 0-0 against the eventual Supporters’ Shield winners. He made two other appearances in away games against D.C. United and Charlotte FC, both of which ended as 1-1 draws as he finished with 148 MLS minutes on the year.

Defensively he recorded four tackles, four interceptions, three clearances, a block, and won two aerial duels. He did not record any offensive statistics, but was solid with his distribution as he averaged 87.3% passing accuracy and completed one cross and one long ball each.

Given that it was only his first season as a professional, he spent the bulk of his time in MLS NEXT Pro with Orlando City B. With the Young Lions he played in 16 matches, starting 14 of them and racking up 1,162 minutes. He finished with 11 interceptions and a tackle while committing seven fouls and drawing 11 and picking up one yellow card. Salim took nine shots, put two of them on target, and scored a goal on each one he got on frame. He passed very well, finishing with a 90.2% success rate, two key passes, and 18 long balls.

Best Game

The honor of his best game goes to his first ever professional appearance, when he started and played the whole game in the aforementioned 0-0 draw against FC Cincinnati. Salim finished with three tackles, three clearances, and an interception while passing with 87% accuracy, completing a long ball on his only attempt, and helping the Lions keep a clean sheet at home. He was a bit shaky at first, as he was deployed as the third center back in a three-man back line, but he settled down in the second half and finished with a grade of 5.5 out of 10 from Nic Josey.

2023 Final Grade

Given that Salim didn’t crack 200 minutes and we require a minimum of 450 to award a grade for the season, he receives an incomplete for the 2023 season. He did some good things when down with Orlando City B, and filled in well enough with the senior side when called upon, but we simply need to see more of him in order to figure out what he’s really able to do.

2024 Outlook

It’s likely that Salim will spend more time with Orlando City B next season, but with no one seemingly laying claim to the fourth center back position, he should have a chance to show what he’s capable of during preseason. He seemed to be in competition with Thomas Williams for the back up spot not occupied by Rodrigo Schlegel, but he may have moved past him in the pecking order as he made more appearances than the Homegrown signing, both with OCSC and OCB. Regardless, as an inexpensive young player with potential, there’s no reason to think he won’t be here next year.

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