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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Philadelphia Union: Player Grades and Man of the Match

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City went on the road and won 2-1 against the Philadelphia Union for all three points. Both teams were without usual starters due to the international break, injury, or suspension. The Lions got off to a hot start, with Martin Ojeda and Ivan Angulo both scoring within the first 10 minutes of the game. Former Lion Andres Perea scored to bring the Union back within one, but the defense survived an onslaught of shots to win. It was Orlando’s first road win of the 2023 season and snapped the Union’s 24-game unbeaten streak at home. Here’s how each Lion individually performed in the victory.

Starters

GK, Mason Stajduhar, 6.5 — In his first appearance of the season, Stajduhar came up with five saves to ensure Orlando left Philadelphia with all three points. His first big stop of the night came in the 37th minute after a foul right outside of the box. The goalkeeper reacted well to Jack Elliott’s strike, jumping to push it just over the crossbar. The Union came out swinging at the start of the second half and Stajduhar did well to deny Joaquin Torres. But his best save came in the 75th minute, when he parried away a header from Alejandro Bedoya at point-blank range. There were a few shaky moments in the first half, as he made a meal of two long ball attempts that Philly pounced on. He dove to stop Perea’s first shot and couldn’t recover in time for him to stop the second after it hit the post. But he settled in as time went on and was accurate on seven of his 16 long balls, including the one that led to Orlando’s first goal. He had 24 passes at a 54.2% success rate, but ultimately did very well in one of the tougher stadiums to play in as a visitor.

D, Luca Petrasso, 5 — The left back had 53 touches in 79 minutes of action, but wasn’t able to make much of an impact on either side of the ball. Three of his six long balls were accurate and his lone cross didn’t find its mark, although it was a decent effort into the box. Problems arose for Orlando when Petrasso was often caught too far up the field to help defend Philadelphia’s counters. As a result, he only had two interceptions and two clearances in the match. The 22-year-old was also beaten in the air by Bedoya, allowing the Union captain to put a header on target that needed heroics from Stajduhar to keep out. Petrasso won two of his five aerial duels, had two unstable touches, and was accurate on 69.7% of his 33 passes. It wasn’t a particularly great outing from the left back, who was subbed off for Antonio Carlos late in the match.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 7 — After a rough game last weekend against Charlotte FC, Schlegel bounced back in this one. The center back led the Lions with 11 clearances, while also contributing three interceptions, two blocks, and a tackle. Schlegel won three of his five aerial duels and ended the game with a nice slide tackle to snuff out Philadelphia’s final opportunity. Schlegel had 27 passes at a 77.7% success rate and neither of his two long balls were accurate, although he did have two key passes. This was a great defensive performance from Schlegel to make life difficult for Philadelphia’s attackers. Mikael Uhre had a brace last weekend, but wasn’t able to get much going against Schlegel. Considering he’s played more MLS minutes than any other Lion, some deserved rest could be headed his way as Antonio Carlos works his way back from injury.

D, Robin Jansson, 6.5 — The Beefy Swede was putting out fires on the left side of Orlando’s defense all night long. Jansson positioned himself when the Union went on the counter and he had three clearances and a tackle in the match. The center back made smart slide tackles and was a force in the air as well, winning all three of his aerial duels. Four of his eight long balls were accurate and he completed 79.3% of his 29 passes while contributing a key pass. Jansson also didn’t commit a foul and has not received a yellow card since the season opener.

D, Kyle Smith, 4 — With Michael Halliday away on international duty, Smith started at right back for the Lions. The veteran was bossed by his former teammate on the Union’s goal, with Perea beating him once in the air and again on the rebound off the post. Smith won three of his seven aerial duels and committed four fouls, including one from a dangerous spot in front of goal right before halftime and another that allowed a free kick from near the corner. Defensively, he contributed eight clearances, a tackle, an interception, and a block. Three of his eight long balls were accurate, but he didn’t have a cross, key pass, or shot. Smith wasn’t as sharp with the ball as he needed to be and had 47 passes at a 74.5% success rate.

MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 7.5 — The captain notched his first assist of the season with a perfect ball over the top for Ojeda. The ball had enough on it to get past Elliott, but was weighted enough to give Ojeda all the time in the world to pick out his shot. Pereyra helped pull the strings on the second goal as well, getting another assist for setting Ojeda up to get the ball to Angulo. He connected on three of his four long balls, was accurate on one of his two crosses, and finished with 54 passes at a strong 85.2% success rate. The Uruguayan gave the Union headaches off the ball too, leading the Lions with five tackles and blocking a shot as well. Pereyra led the Lions with 74 touches and was successful on three of his four dribbles. Although he didn’t have a shot himself, Pereyra did well to garner attention from defenders and find the open man to maintain possession.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 6.5 — The Uruguayan was overshadowed by other Lions in this one, which is far from the worst thing for a defensive midfielder. Araujo quietly helped connect Orlando’s defense with its offense, completing 80.7% of his team-high 57 passes. He had nine long balls as well, although he was only accurate on three of them, and made two key passes. Araujo helped out defensively with three clearances, two interceptions, a tackle, and a block. His only weak spot in this one was when battling for balls in the air, as he only won one of his five aerial duels. Still, it was a solid performance from him and he did well working in tandem with Felipe to frustrate the Union.

MF, Felipe, 6.5 — It was Felipe’s first start of the season and he was great in the heart of the midfield. The 32-year-old led the Lions with six interceptions and recorded three tackles, two clearances, and a block. He had a key pass by setting up a shot for Ojeda and completed 77% of his 49 passes. There were a few moments of disconnect and neither his lone long ball nor his two crosses were accurate. The MLS veteran had 74 touches and won all three of his aerials. Felipe was shown a yellow card in the 20th minute, but didn’t let the caution impact his presence on defense and his experience helped the Lions see out the game.

MF, Martin Ojeda, 7.5 (MotM) — Ojeda was Orlando’s lone Designated Player on the pitch and lived up to his billing with a goal and an assist in the first 10 minutes of the match. He was patient and clinical with his strike, beating Joe Bendik for his second goal in as many games. The 24-year-old was just as composed when slipping the ball between defenders for Angulo to put away a few minutes later. Ojeda took a whopping eight shots, putting three on target, sending two off target, and having the other three blocked. He was also great when facilitating the offense, making two key passes, finding his man on four of his five long balls, and completing 79.6% of his 49 passes. Ojeda also contributed two tackles and two clearances on defense. The only blemishes on his performance were a few late opportunities to put the game to bed that he should’ve done better with. Ojeda is our Man of the Match for keeping Orlando looking dangerous from start to finish on the road.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 7 — Angulo certainly earned his first goal of the season. The Colombian winger made a good tackle to get his team started on a counter attack and then made a nice run to get past two defenders to slot his shot home. It was one of his two shots in 70 minutes of action, the other ruled off-target, although it appeared Bendik nudged it just wide of the far post after Angulo did well to beat Olivier Mbaizo with his speed. He only had 30 touches, but was a constant part of Orlando’s attack and had a key pass as well. Angulo could’ve taken better care of the ball, as he had four unstable touches and 24 passes at a 75% success rate. His only cross was unsuccessful as well. Angulo made an impact on defense too, contributing two tackles, an interception, a clearance, and a blocked shot. While he may need to work on his first touch, it was a great night from Angulo as he feasted on Philly’s defense once Pereyra and Ojeda cut it up for him.

F, Ramiro Enrique, 6 — Enrique did well holding up play and attracting attention from Philadelphia’s defenders so other Lions could work their magic. He deserved credit on the scoresheet for chesting down a long ball to set up Pereyra’s assist. Enrique is only 5-foot-7 but won five of his 10 aerial duels and did well up against one of the best center back duos in the league in Elliott and Jakob Glesnes. The statistics don’t reflect his impact on offense, as his only shot was blocked and he had no key passes. Before being subbed off in the 79th minute, he had 30 passes at a 73.3% success rate and his only long ball was inaccurate. Regardless, the 21-year-old was solid in his first trip to Subaru Park and helped out on defense with two clearances and a tackle.

Substitutes

MF, Gaston Gonzalez (70’), 5.5 — The winger had 10 touches in over 20 minutes of action and looked better than he did in previous games. Gonzalez showed off some of his strength and skill on the ball on the left side of the pitch, but wasn’t particularly dangerous. He was successful on one of his two dribbles, won one of his two aerial duels, and was inaccurate on his one cross and one long ball. He completed two of his four passes and had a clearance as well.

F, Duncan McGuire (79’), N/A — The rookie delivered a great key pass to serve the ball to Ojeda in the center of the box on a silver platter. McGuire beat Glesnes to a pass from Ojeda in the final third and then casually slipped the ball between the reigning MLS Defender of the Year’s legs for Ojeda to shoot. McGuire had seven touches, and completed three of his four passes. He only won one of his four aerial duels, but did well on offense to keep the Union on their toes while hunting for an equalizer.

D, Antonio Carlos (79’), N/A — The center back made his first appearance of the season, coming on for Petrasso to give the Lions some more height and stability in defense, and so the team could go five at the back in defense. Carlos had one interception, completed three of his five passes, was accurate on one of his two long balls, and won one of his two aerial duels. It was mostly just nice to see Carlos back on the field after missing games due to injury.

MF, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson (84’), N/A — Coming on for Pereyra late in the match, he only had four touches and completed his only pass. Thorhallsson had a chance to put the game on ice in stoppage time, but his shot went wide of goal.


That’s how I saw the individual performances in Orlando’s 2-1 road win against the Philadelphia Union. Vote for your Man of the Match in our poll and let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 3/1/24

Orlando’s girls teams playing in national event this weekend, USWNT will face Colombia, Paul Pogba banned for four years, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Welcome to March! It always feels like a good sign when a month starts on a Friday. Spring may not officially be here, but it definitely feels like winter is truly behind us. I plan on getting plenty of spring cleaning done this weekend before a fairly busy month. Let’s get this month started with today’s links!

ECNL Girls National Event Kicks Off Today

Some of the best youth soccer players are coming to Florida this weekend for the Elite Club National League’s spring event at Lakewood Ranch. It’s a great chance for clubs to play teams outside of their conference and there are plenty of scouts to impress as well. Orlando City will have four youth teams take part and each team will play at least three games over the three days. Orlando’s G07 squad has notably won five of its eight games in conference play and will take on Real Colorado National today. Orlando’s squads in the other age groups have some strong opponents lined up as well, so it should be a great experience for the club.

USWNT Will Face Colombia in Concacaf W Gold Cup

After finishing second in its group after a loss to Mexico, the United States Women’s National Team will take on Colombia this Sunday in the Concacaf W Gold Cup quarterfinals. The U.S. and Colombia squared off in friendlies last fall, with the teams playing to a scoreless draw in Utah before the U.S. won 3-0 in San Diego a few days later. Colombia also finished second in its group, conceding just once so far this tournament. The winner of Sunday’s match will play whichever team advances from tomorrow’s game between Canada and Costa Rica. On the other side of the bracket, Orlando Pride players square off when Rafaelle, Adriana, and Brazil play Mariana Larroquette and Argentina tomorrow. The winner of that match will play the victor between Mexico and Paraguay.

Portland Timbers Cut Ties With Jersey Sponsor

The Portland Timbers have dropped DaBella Exteriors as their jersey sponsor amid allegations that the company’s CEO, Donnie McMillan, Jr., sexually harassed employees. The accusations did not become public until Feb. 23 and the Timbers have removed DaBella’s image from their website as well. It makes sense that the Timbers would want to distance themselves from this. There was an investigation by U.S. Soccer in 2022 regarding former Portland Thorns head coach Paul Riley, and the club was also fined by MLS for not reporting an incident of alleged domestic violence involving former Timbers player Andy Polo in a timely manner. DaBella replaced Alaska Airlines as the team’s shirt sponsor for this season and the Timbers will now go without one until a new sponsor is chosen.

Paul Pogba Banned for Four Years

After testing positive for testosterone while playing for Juventus, French midfielder Paul Pogba was banned for the maximum four years by Italy’s anti-doping court. In response to the ruling, Pogba stated that the verdict was “incorrect” and that he will appeal this decision.

“I am sad, shocked and heartbroken that everything I have built in my professional playing career has been taken away from me,” Pogba said. “When I am free of legal restrictions the full story will become clear, but I have never knowingly or deliberately taken any supplements that violate anti-doping regulations.”

It’s fair to wonder just where this news leaves his career if his appeal is denied and he serves the full ban. Pogba turns 31 later this month and he is still under contract with Juventus through 2026, although this ban may obviously change that. Injuries have limited him in recent years as well, as he missed out on the most recent World Cup with France.

Free Kicks

  • Toronto FC signed English midfielder Matty Longstaff to a contract through the 2025 season. Longstaff has previous played for Newcastle United and should help improve a Toronto team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2020.
  • LA Galaxy midfielder Mark Delgado’s second yellow card he received in his team’s opener has been rescinded and he’s eligible for Saturday’s match against the San Jose Earthquakes. Delgado was sent off while the Galaxy were up against Inter Miami, and the Herons then went on to score and leave with a point.
  • The New England Revolution beat Independiente to advance to the Concacaf Champions Cup’s round of 16.
  • Bay FC forward Racheal Kundananji had to exit Zambia’s Olympic qualifier against Ghana due to an injury.
  • The United States Men’s National Team’s next away kit was reportedly leaked and it sure is something. It’s like a Bomb Pop got mixed into the team’s laundry.
  • The USL Super League’s Fort Lauderdale United unveiled its branding and the colors are pretty nice. However, the logo has a bit too much alphabet soup going on for my liking.

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 Inter Miami: Three Keys to Victory

What does Orlando City need to do to defeat Inter Miami in Fort Lauderdale this Saturday?

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Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

This Saturday Orlando City travels to Fort Lauderdale to take on in-state rival Inter Miami. Despite having to pay for a part of Lionel Messi’s salary, the Lions will not get to have him play any time for Orlando City, which is kind of messed up, isn’t it? Regardless, the Lions will look to maintain their undefeated start to the year with a win down South.

What does Orlando City need to do to bring home all three points from Chase Stadium?

Get a Midfielder on Messi

It isn’t easy to stop Messi, but that is what defensive midfielders Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena must do in this match. They are arguably the best defensive midfield pairing in MLS and will need to prove it against one of the best to ever play the game. When Orlando City played Messi and Miami in the U.S. Open Cup last year, they were able to frustrate him and he should have been sent off just before halftime for a second yellow-worthy foul he committed to stop Araujo from getting to a loose ball first to start the counter. He is very entitled and doesn’t like being challenged by the likes of those two. Doing so smartly will be the key because of our next key below.

Don’t Give the Refs Anything

MLS and the referees will never admit that they made calls that benefit Miami and Messi in particular, but that’s because they want us to not believe our lying eyes. It’s unfair and wrong, but also a fact of life. As such, the Lions need to make sure that they don’t do anything even remotely close to the type of foul that will allow the refs to swing things the Herons’ way. Of course, that might not stop them from doing so, but playing clean and smart is the best chance to limit the impact the officiating has on the match. Balancing that will being aggressive enough to stop them will be tricky to say the least.

Score, Score, Score

You can be sure we will see a first-choice lineup from Oscar Pareja this Saturday. That means that the Lions need to press for goals early and often. Score enough goals and the referees can’t hurt you. Whether it’s Duncan McGuire, Facundo Torres, Luis Muriel, Ivan Angulo, Nico Lodeiro, or even Kyle Smith, the team needs to put the ball in the back of the net. Getting the early lead — especially if it’s two goals — will mean a lot to the flow of the game. Once again, I don’t particularly care where those goals come from, just that they happen.


That is what I will be looking for this Saturday. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 2/29/24

Lions reportedly won’t play in U.S. Open Cup, Cavalry FC reflects on its defeat, gauging the USWNT’s panic meter, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Leap Day, Mane Landers! It’s the rarest day of the year, as we all lean into our procrastination a bit and collectively tell March that we’ll get to it tomorrow. It’s been a pretty busy week for me, but knowing the MLS season is in full swing has helped fuel me a bit. Let’s dive into today’s links!

Orlando City Reportedly Won’t Play in 2024 U.S. Open Cup

The latest reports involving Major League Soccer’s participation in this year’s U.S. Open Cup indicate that Orlando City, along with a majority of MLS teams, won’t be playing their first teams in the tournament. According to ESPN‘s Jeff Carlisle, the Houston Dynamo and the seven best teams from last season that aren’t taking part in the Concacaf Champions Cup will have their first teams take part. The format will reportedly be announced soon and we’ll see if Orlando City B and other MLS NEXT Pro teams will be in the tournament.

It will be pretty disappointing if Orlando’s first team doesn’t end up playing. Even though the Lions suffered an early exit last year, they won in 2022 and Head Coach Oscar Pareja has a penchant for excelling in the U.S. Open Cup.

Cavalry FC Reflects on Loss to Orlando City

Although Cavalry FC lost in both legs against Orlando City in its first Concacaf Champions Cup campaign, the Canadian club can hold its head high. Cavalry Head Coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. spoke on the team’s tactics in the second leg in Orlando to overcome the hefty aggregate deficit.

“Strategically, we wanted to frustrate them in the first half with an extra defender, and often at times we were in a back five,” Wheeldon said. “And second half, we wanted to unleash with more attackers and have a go, because it was 0-0. We thought … one, we wanted to make history with our first goal, and two, we wanted to get a result here.”

That first goal did come with Myer Bevan making some history for his team to take back to Canada. All in all, Cavalry did pretty well as the underdog and it’s unfortunate it didn’t get a true home game in Calgary. Cavalry’s defense is the real deal and I doubt this is the last time it makes an appearance in the Champions Cup.

Assessing the Fallout From the USWNT’s Defeat

The United States Women’s National Team suffered a shocking defeat to Mexico earlier this week that’s brought on varying levels of panic. The clock is ticking before the Olympics and the USWNT struggled to bounce back after trailing in the first half and had difficulties on both sides of the ball. While the issues at center back will likely be solved once Naomi Girma and Tierna Davidson play, the midfield has plenty of question marks and a weird balance of youth and experience. It’s an awkward stage for the USWNT, as Emma Hayes doesn’t arrive until May and won’t have much time to get the team ready for Paris. Of course, the USWNT could still win this tournament and the return of Mallory Swanson may heal most wounds this summer, leaving this loss as just a minor blemish when the year is up. Only time will tell and the USWNT has plenty of opportunity to right the ship.

FA Cup Quarterfinals Are Set

It was a pretty wild day in the FA Cup, with some of England’s top teams fighting their way into the quarterfinals. Chelsea needed a late winner from Conor Gallagher to beat Leeds United 3-2 at Stamford Bridge. Manchester United’s match against Nottingham Forest also had a dramatic finish, as United’s Casemiro scored the game’s only goal in the 89th minute. Wolverhampton ousted Brighton thanks to an early goal, and Liverpool got the job done against Southampton.

In the quarterfinals, Newcastle will travel to take on Manchester City, Wolverhampton will host the second division’s Conventry City, Chelsea will take on Leicester City, and Manchester United will face off against Liverpool. All four matches will take place on March 16.

Free Kicks

  • After getting married, Orlando Pride defender Emily Madril will have a new name on the back of her jersey this season.
  • Former Pride midfielder Becky Edwards is an assistant coach at the University of Tennessee and shared details about her time as both a player and coach with the U.S. U-20 team.
  • Enjoy this captured moment of Orlando midfielder Wilder Cartagena being awesome.
  • LAFC forward Mateusz Bogusz’s strike against the Seattle Sounders won the first MLS Goal of the Matchday of the season, claiming 35.4% of the vote.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a pretty great Leap Day and that the rest of the week goes smoothly.

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