Well, that wasn’t a very fun game. Orlando City had its chances, but was caught out twice and lost 2-0 to Nashville SC at home. It was another game that will sting for supporters as the Lions weren’t bad by any means, but failed to capitalize on the chances they created while the visitors were extremely ruthless. Here’s how I saw the individual performances in OCSC’s second straight home loss.
GK, Pedro Gallese, 5.5 — This maybe feels a little harsh on El Pulpo, but on a night when he didn’t face many shots, he wasn’t able to keep out the majority of the ones that he did see. He finished with one save on the three shots on target that Nashville produced on the night, with the other two finding a way past him. He was caught in no man’s land on the opening goal, and while a cruel deflection took Hany Mukhtar’s shot past him, it’s still not great to get beat from such an acute angle. His 59% passing accuracy left a bit to be desired, even as a goalkeeper, but it’s hard to hold that against him too much. In the end, it just wasn’t his night.
D, Luca Petrasso, 5.5 — Preferred to Rafael Santos in the starting left back role, Petrasso had a fairly quiet night. His passing was the highlight of his performance as he was extremely accurate, completing 93% of them, while also contributing two key passes. His cutback pass to Ramiro Enrique should have resulted in more than it did, but it was that kind of night across the board for the Lions. He also completed one dribble and committed two fouls before being withdrawn as OCSC was chasing the game.
D, Robin Jansson, 6 — Jansson recorded one tackle, one interception, four clearances, and four long balls while passing with 92% accuracy. I particularly enjoyed the excellent curled ball he played up the sideline just two minutes into the game. While he wasn’t as culpable as Rodrigo Schlegel on Fafa Picault’s opening goal, he wasn’t blameless either, and neither player covered themselves in glory on the sequence. He did commit one foul but avoided picking up a yellow card, which isn’t exactly a foregone conclusion for him, so that was some silver lining.
D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 5.5 — Schlegel partnered Jansson in defense as he has for most of the young season. He was busy on the stat sheet with two tackles, four clearances, and 84.6% passing accuracy with one long ball. Unfortunately, his most high profile contribution to the game came on Nashville’s opening goal when he fell asleep and allowed Picault to get in behind him to open the scoring. It was not good defending from him, and while he was mostly solid afterward — though it’s not clear how much his sliding challenge distracted Gallese on the second goal — his first lapse ended up costing the Lions dearly. He also picked up a yellow card shortly after the halftime break and had to play more carefully as a result.
D, Kyle Smith, 6 — Like Petrasso, it was a fairly anonymous performance from The Accountant. He passed with 86% accuracy and completed three key passes, and it was nice to see him making that contribution offensively, although he was only one-for-five on his crossing attempts. He won two aerial duels, and made one tackle, while being fouled once and picking up a yellow card for a shoving match with Picault in the second half.
MF, Felipe , 5.5 — Felipe was given the start and asked to play the double pivot in deep central midfield alongside Cesar Araujo, presumably in an effort to gum up the play of the always dangerous duo of Mukhtar and C.J. Sapong. It worked to a degree. He recorded a tackle, an interception, a shot and a completed dribble while passing at an 84% clip. With that being said, he was the one who committed the foul on Mukhtar which led to the Nashville goal. The foul in itself wasn’t a cardinal sin as it stopped a Nashville break, but he maybe should have tried to get in front of the German playmaker and tried to delay the set piece being taken as quickly as it was, though he was by no means the worst offender on that particular goal conceded.
MF, Cesar Araujo, 6 — Araujo did plenty of dirty work in the match, but was able to flash an offensive side of his game as well. He passed with a whopping 99% accuracy, recorded two tackles, one clearance, two shots, a completed dribble and was fouled three times while committing three of his own. It was a shame he was unable to stay on his feet when the ball found him in the box in the first half, as he had a good opportunity to shoot, but his slip was fairly emblematic of Orlando’s night as a whole.
MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 6 — Pererya was largely freed of defensive responsibilities with Felipe deployed as the eight, and that was reflected in his stat line. The captain took one shot, passed with 84% accuracy, had three key passes, two long balls, was fouled twice, and chipped in with two tackles defensively. Unfortunately, he and the rest of his offensive teammates couldn’t find the final ball to unlock Nashville defensively, especially once the first goal went in and the visitors started to bunker more heavily.
MF, Martin Ojeda, 6 — As has become customary for him, Ojeda took the most shots out of anyone in an Orlando City shirt, with six. Two went on target, one was blocked and the other three were off target, but he isn’t shy about having a pop when the opportunity presents itself. He also passed with 88% accuracy, had one key pass and one interception while committing one foul. For the most part, the final ball just wouldn’t present itself for anyone in a purple shirt, and he was no exception.
MF, Ivan Angulo, 6.5 (MotM) — Angulo was his usual active self in this one. He had Orlando’s best chance of the game in the 17th minute when he turned on a ball in the box and fired a low shot towards the far corner that forced Joe Willis into an excellent kick save. He took three shots on the night, putting one on target, one off, and having the final one blocked. He also passed with 89% accuracy and had a key pass, and he won a lone aerial duel and made one clearance. On the disciplinary side of things he was fouled once and committed one foul of his own.
F, Ramiro Enrique, 5.5 — Enrique was given the start up top and was not shy about running and using his high energy levels. Defensively he contributed one clearance and committed a foul. On the offensive end of things he took two shots, putting one on target and had the other one blocked, while also passing with 88% accuracy and notching a key pass. He had a great chance to get Orlando level when Petrasso’s cutback found him in the second half, but he could only fire low into Joe Willis’ body with a shot he really should have done better with.
MF, Facundo Torres (45′), 6 — Deployed only as a second half substitute, Torres still managed to get involved. He finished his night with two shots, one on target and one off target, and also had a key pass and drew a foul on the offensive end. He passed with 89% accuracy, completed two long balls, and contributed one tackle and one interception on the defensive end. His introduction gave the Lions a spark, but it ultimately wasn’t enough to get them on the scoresheet.
MF, Gaston Gonzalez (78′), N/A — Gonzalez came in with under a quarter of an hour to play as Oscar Pareja threw the kitchen sink at Nashville to try to get a result. He didn’t record any defensive statistics but passed with 78% accuracy, was fouled once, and completed one dribble.
MF, Duncan McGuire (81′), N/A — Like Gonzalez, McGuire entered the fray late to try to help chase a result. He completed all three of his passes, one of which was a key one, won one aerial duel, and took one headed shot, which he put on target.
MF, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson (82′), N/A — Thorhallsson was another sub late with OCSC chasing the game. He completed all three of his passes and committed two fouls, but was otherwise unable to impact proceedings.
That’s how I saw the individual performances in the tough home loss to Nashville SC. Let me know how you saw things in the comments, and be sure to vote in the Man of the Match poll below.
Orlando City Parts Ways with Captain Mauricio Pereyra
Orlando City and club captain Mauricio Pereyra have agreed to terminate his contract.
Orlando City announced this afternoon that the club and captain Mauricio Pereyra have mutually agreed to terminate his contract. The Uruguayan midfielder leaves the club after four and a half years in purple and two seasons as captain.
“Mauricio has embodied Orlando City since the moment he arrived to the club, and we’re very thankful for everything he has given to us, our fans, and the community,” Orlando City Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Luiz Muzzi said in a club press release. “His contributions and impact to our organization will be felt for years to come, and we wish him and his family the best of luck in this next chapter of their lives.”
Pereyra originally joined the club on July 30, 2019 after his contract expired with Russian side FC Krasnodar. He made his debut on Aug. 17, 2019 against Minnesota United FC as a Designated Player, coming on at halftime for Robinho. He would go on to make 136 appearances in all competitions (122 starts) and record 10,027 minutes. The midfielder scored seven goals for the Lions and recorded a club record 47 assists.
His 136 appearances are third most in the club’s MLS era, his 121 starts are second, and his 10,027 minutes are third since the club jumped from USL Pro to MLS in 2015.
Following the departure of previous captain Nani after the 2021 MLS season, Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja named Pereyra the club captain. He led his team through an historic cup run in 2022, lifting the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup for the club’s first-ever major trophy. He captained the team again in 2023, leading the Lions to the MLS Cup playoffs for the fourth straight year and the Eastern Conference semifinals for the second time in that period.
The midfielder signed a new two-year contract on Nov. 23, 2022 that was supposed to keep him in Orlando through the 2024 MLS season. Muzzi used Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) to buy down his contract, opening a Designated Player spot for the 2023 season. However, this decision ends his contract a year before its expiration.
“Thank you to everyone for these four years together. It was a pleasure to belong to this family and I am so thankful to every person that works for this club and that has helped this team grow and win titles from their place,” Pereyra said in a club press release. “I was honored and proud to be given the captain’s armband and, of course, thanks to the technical staff and my teammates who helped me to become better as a player. But more so made me feel loved and made me a better person. I’ll miss you, but from this next season and beyond you’ll have one more fan that will wish nothing but the best for you. I love you and thank you.”
The 33-year-old Uruguayan made 38 appearances in his final season for Orlando City, with 34 starts and 2,637 minutes across all competitions. He scored one goal and added 12 assists.
What It Means for Orlando
Pereyra is a significant player in Orlando City history. He was one of the first players signed by Muzzi after the GM’s arrival from FC Dallas and was a key part of the club’s turnaround from doormat to contender. The importance of his place in the team was shown when Pareja named him captain following the 2021 MLS season.
However, the 33-year-old has lost a step since arriving. It was visible as the past two seasons progressed and raised questions as to whether he was the right option in the starting lineup moving forward. The club’s sale of striker Ercan Kara to Turkish side Samsunspor opened up a Designated Player spot that could be used on that position if the club wishes.
While Pereyra was an essential part of the team during his time in Orlando, it seems impossible for him to stay without being in the starting lineup. As captain, he was never going to come off the bench, so leaving the lineup would inevitably mean his departure from the club.
Additionally, Pereyra moved forward this past season into a more unfamiliar role. He started as an eight when he arrived, but was forced into the attacking midfield when Junior Urso left. The club now has the option of moving Urso or Designated Player Martin Ojeda into the starting lineup, or using their now open DP spot on that position.
Lion Links: 12/6/23
Antonio Carlos linked with move to Fluminense, Emily Madril agrees to new contract with the Pride, USWNT beats China, and more.
Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you down in Florida. There is not much new with me, I’ve just been staying busy working at Under Armour and covering high school basketball and wrestling lately. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.
Antonio Carlos Linked with Fluminense
Orlando City center back Antonio Carlos was linked with a move back to Brazil, with Fluminense reportedly close to finalizing a deal to sign him.
Carlos initially joined Orlando on loan from Palmeiras before the 2020 season. Following that season, the club signed him to a three-year contract with an option for an additional year. The 30-year-old has been a key part of Orlando’s defense under Head Coach Oscar Pareja, although Carlos missed some time this past season due to injury.
Emily Madril Agrees to New Contract With the Pride
The Orlando Pride announced that defender Emily Madril has reached an agreement with the club on a new three-year contract through the 2026 NWSL season. Madril just finished her first season with the Pride, making 27 appearances for the club across all competitions and leading all rookies with 1,977 minutes played in the NWSL regular season. She was already signed to a three-year deal through 2025, but the Pride were able to find a way to keep her with the club for another year. Now the club can work on retooling its roster with a back line anchored by Madril and Rafaelle.
MLS 2023 College Showcase Begins Today
Major League Soccer announced the 44 invitees for the 2023 MLS College Showcase. The event will kick off today through Dec. 9 in Phoenix. One local player to keep an eye on is defender Jahlane Forbes out of Wake Forest. Forbes is from Clermont, FL and joined Orlando City’s academy in 2016. He has also played for Orlando City B, making three appearances. Forbes made 19 appearances for Wake Forest in the 2023 season, recording five goals and seven assists. Other top prospects to watch include Louisville defender Josh Jones, High Point’s Jefferson Amaya, and Marshall forward Matthew Bell.
USWNT Beats China in Final Friendly of 2023
The U.S. Women’s National team defeated China 2-1 at Toyota Stadium in its final match of 2023. The USWNT trailed 1-0 at halftime, but bounced back in the second half thanks to a pair of goals and a solid defensive effort. Jaedyn Shaw gave the USWNT its winner in the 79th minute, scoring in her hometown in a memorable moment for the 19-year-old. It was the USWNT’s second win over China this month after winning the first match 3-0 this past Saturday in Fort Lauderdale.
Former Lion Daryl Dike Nears Return with West Brom
After being sidelined with an Achilles injury since March, former Lion Daryl Dike could make his return to West Brom this month. Dike has been back at training with the club since last month to work his way back to fitness, and West Brom’s manager, Carlos Corberan, stated that that he would be an option in the squad by the end of the December if he keeps progressing well. The 23-year-old joined West Brom in December of 2021, but injuries have limited his playing time while in England.
- The Orlando Pride had a message for former Pride goalkeeper Erin McLeod after her farewell ceremony with the Canadian Women’s National Team during its friendly against Australia on Tuesday.
- The Chicago Fire have announced that Frank Klopas will return to the club to serve as head coach for the second time. Klopas was the head coach for the Fire from 2011 to 2013 and was the interim coach this past season after Ezra Hendrickson’s departure in May.
- Minnesota United announced that Sean McAuley will remain with the club as its interim head coach going into the 2024 season.
- Former Portland Timbers Head Coach Gio Savarese is reportedly in consideration for the open head coach position with the New England Revolution.
- The Seattle Sounders have reached an agreement with goalkeeper Stefan Frei on a new two-year contract that will keep him at the club through the 2025 season.
That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Wednesday and I’ll see you next time.
2023 Orlando City Season in Review: Junior Urso
The Bear returned unexpectedly in the middle of the season to bolster the Orlando midfield.
Midfielder Junior Urso joined Orlando City on Jan. 13, 2020 from Brazilian giants Corinthians on a multi-year deal. The Bear spent three years in purple before he and the club mutually agreed to part ways, terminating his contract for personal reasons on Nov. 10, 2022. Upon his return to Brazil, Urso joined Coritiba, but injuries limited him to just seven appearances. In a surprise move, Urso rejoined Orlando City on July 19, returning to the City Beautiful and accepting a backup role behind the Lions’ double pivot of Wilder Cartagena and Cesar Araujo.
Let’s take a look back at Urso’s 2023 campaign.
Urso made his return to the pitch for Orlando City on Aug. 20, following the club’s run in Leagues Cup. In the MLS regular season, Urso made nine appearances (two starts), logging 250 minutes. Urso did not score a goal or assist on one, attempting just three shots, none of which found the target. The Bear completed 78.3% of his 115 total pass attempts but did not record a key pass or a successful cross. Defensively, Urso tallied two interceptions, five tackles, and five clearances. He committed two fouls, drew two on the opposition, and was booked just once.
The Brazilian also appeared in all three of Orlando City’s playoff matches, all off the bench, totaling 98 minutes. He did not score a goal or assist on one, attempting three shots, one of which was on target. He completed 86.4% of his passes, including three key passes, but did not connect on a cross. Urso chipped in one tackle defensively, committed two fouls, suffered three, and was not booked in the postseason.
With a little less than a third of a season in purple and gold and serving primarily as a reserve player, Urso’s best match was his regular-season appearance on the road against Nashville SC on Oct. 4. The Bear came on for Facundo Torres in the 72nd minute and did what fans have always expected of him, which is to frustrate the living hell out of the opponent. Urso made sure that Nashville knew that he had entered the game, winning countless throw-ins, allowing Orlando to walk away with its first road victory at Nashville. Urso also recorded a shot in the match, which was the Lions’ only attempt other than Duncan McGuire’s goal, although it was perhaps a bit generous to call it a shot attempt. He passed at a 72.2% rate and recorded a tackle and a clearance and did his job helping the Lions see out a tight victory.
2023 Final Grade
As Urso came up short of the minimum total of 450 minutes played to receive a rating on our 1-10 scale, The Mane Land has no choice but to mark his grade as incomplete for the 2023 season. While it was a surreal experience just to see the Bear back on the pitch for Orlando City after his sudden departure, a delayed return to the pitch due to a lingering knock and the play of the midfielders in front of him on the depth chart limited his ability to leave his mark on the season. However, it’s difficult to put a grade on the experience he brought to the squad.
Orlando City has yet to announce its end-of-season roster decisions as of this writing, but with Wilder Cartagena’s loan spell expired, the Lions would be wise to pick up Urso’s contract option for the 2024 season. If that happens, he would likely take up the No. 8 role with Araujo playing the No. 6 in Orlando’s double pivot (assuming Oscar Pareja also returns). Urso could split time at the No. 8 if Orlando adds a new starting No. 10, because in that case, Mauricio Pereyra might see some time in that spot. If a permanent transfer or loan extension for Cartagena is secured, Urso provides value off the bench, although he’s a bit pricey for a backup at $360,000.
Previous Season in Review Articles (Date Posted)
Orlando City Parts Ways with Captain Mauricio Pereyra
2023 Orlando Pride Season in Review: Emily Madril
PawedCast Episode 391: Orlando City Off-Season Roster Predictions
Lion Links: 12/5/23
Lion Links: 12/4/23
PawedCast Episode 391: Orlando City Off-Season Roster Predictions
Orlando City2 weeks ago
Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew: Five Takeaways
Orlando City2 weeks ago
Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew: Final Score 2-0 as 10-Man Lions Fall at Home in Extra Time
Orlando City2 weeks ago
Intelligence Report: Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew
Orlando City2 weeks ago
Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More
Orlando City1 week ago
Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew: Player Grades and Man of the Match
Lion Links1 week ago
Lion Links: 11/29/23
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Lion Links: 11/25/23
Orlando City1 week ago
2023 Orlando City Season in Review: Alex Freeman