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Orlando City vs. Inter Miami: Player Grades and Man of the Match

How did your favorite Lions rate in a 3-1 win on the road against Inter Miami?



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

In the first Tropic Thunder rivalry match of the year, Orlando City went on the road and won 3-1 against Inter Miami. Ercan Kara, Martin Ojeda, and Rafael Santos all scored to overshadow a great goal from Leonardo Campana. It was Orlando’s first win during a hectic May and should be a good result to build off of. Let’s dive into how your favorite Lions individually performed in a huge road win.


GK, Pedro Gallese, 6.5  — Gallese was beaten by Campana’s strike from distance, unable to get to it before it was in the back of the net. Dixon Arroyo tested him again soon after, but he did well to get low and make the difficult save. It was Gallese’s only save of the night as his back line did well to keep Miami from troubling him too much. El Pulpo’s distribution could have been a bit better as he was accurate on four of his 11 long balls and completed 46.2% of his 13 passes. The way the game played out influences those stats a bit though as Gallese didn’t need to help Orlando build possession out of the back.

D, Rafael Santos, 6.5 — A turnover in Orlando’s own half led to Miami’s equalizer, as the Herons picked off Santos’ pass and then worked the ball to Campana for him to work his magic. However, Santos made up for his error with his first goal as a Lion late in the match. Duncan McGuire found him at the edge of the area and he smashed it home. It was his second shot of the match, as he had a similar opportunity prior to his goal that went just wide. It was only his sixth professional goal and gave the Lions an insurance tally they’ve struggled to find in past matches. Santos did struggle in other ways though. His crosses looked threatening, but he was unsuccessful on both attempts and inaccurate on his four long balls as well. He had 42 passes, but only completed 73.8% of them as well. That being said, he was defensively sound with two tackles, three interceptions, and two clearances.

D, Robin Jansson, 7.5 — The Beefy Swede was dominant in the center of Orlando’s defense, finishing the match with seven clearances, three interceptions, and two blocked shots. His distribution was great as well, as he was successful on 88.9% of his 27 passes and completed three of his five long balls. Jansson was a big reason why Gallese had a fairly quiet night as he positioned himself well to force Miami’s attack to go through him or try attempts from range or bad angles. The edge and decisiveness he defended with also went a long way in a rivalry match on the road.

D, Antonio Carlos, 7.5 — This match was a testament to just how well Carlos can put out fires. Campana and Josef Martinez are not the easiest forwards to wrangle with, but Carlos kept them limited while helping Kyle Smith out on the right side of the defense when needed. He had seven clearances and two interceptions to see out danger and prevent service from reaching Miami’s biggest weapons. Carlos only completed 73.9% of his 23 passes, but was accurate on four of his five long balls. This match was another strong outing from the Brazilian in his seventh start of the season.

D, Kyle Smith, 6.5 — The right back didn’t see too much of the ball in 63 minutes on the field. Smith had 29 touches and 17 passes at a subpar 64.7% success rate. He didn’t get involved on offense much either, with his only cross of the match missing its mark. But on the defensive side of things, he had two interceptions and three clearances while communicating with Carlos to deal with the danger when it came knocking. Perhaps most notable was that, in a match in which referee Ramy Touchan handed out seven yellow cards, he wasn’t booked. In fact, he didn’t even commit a foul, which is important considering he’s a yellow card away from suspension and Michael Halliday is on international duty.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 7.5 — Araujo notched his first assist of the season with a great long throw that had plenty of power to reach Kara at the near post. It’s nice to see this part of his game result in a goal. Araujo led the Lions with 69 touches and 55 passes at an 87.3% success rate. He also had a team-high two key passes and put his only shot on target, although it was right at Drake Callender. Of his 10 long balls, second only to Gallese, six found their mark, including starting the sequence that resulted in Santos’ goal. Defensively, he had two tackles and an interception to help limit Miami’s chances. Araujo made it easy to forget he’s just 22 years old, as he comfortably played himself and his teammates out of trouble. This was his 10th straight match that he’s played all 90 minutes, so he is likely looking forward to the week of rest.

MF, Wilder Cartagena, 6.5 — The Peruvian was juked by Campana and couldn’t close him down in time to stop his goal. It was a blemish on a fairly strong defensive effort in the midfield from Cartagena, who led the Lions with five tackles. Cartagena didn’t have any shots or key passes, but he did connect on two of his three long balls to contribute offensively. The 28-year-old had 46 passes at an 84.8% success rate and won his only aerial duel of the evening.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 6.5 — Angulo was an active part of Orlando’s offense, using his speed to collect the ball and charge into dangerous areas. It often felt like he happened to be in the right place at the right time. However, his decision making led to mixed results. In one moment he was whipping in an excellent cross to Kara for a key pass, but in the next he was sending a shot miles wide of goal. Both of his two shots were off target and that cross was his only one of the match. He didn’t connect on either of his two long balls and he had 26 passes at a 76.9% success rate. His quickness kept the Herons on their toes, even late in the match before being subbed off in the 83rd minute. Angulo also helped out defensively with two tackles and a clearance. He did pick up his fourth yellow card of the season though, meaning his next will result in a suspension.

MF, Facundo Torres, 6 — El Cuervo’s movement both on and off the ball helped create space for his teammates. Torres attempted a whopping 10 dribbles in 75 minutes and was successful on four of them to shake defenders and increase Orlando’s tempo. However, his touch was poor at times and he continued to lean heavily on his talented left foot, which limited him a bit when attacking. Despite how active he was with his 59 touches, Torres had no key passes and neither of his shots were on target, as one went wide and the other was blocked. He was accurate on one of his two long balls, missed on his lone cross, but finished with 37 passes at a strong 89.2% success rate. Although he didn’t have any defensive stats, the pressure he provided was certainly felt. Still, he needed to be more clinical in this match to capitalize on the team’s chances.

MF, Gaston Gonzalez, 6 — The Argentine winger’s night came to an unfortunate end in the 63rd minute when he pulled up near the touchline grabbing his leg with what looked to be a hamstring injury. Up to that point, he’d been solid playing along the left wing, completing 60.9% of his 23 passes and working his way into good areas. Gonzalez was successful on one of his two crosses as well, connecting with Kara on a corner kick for a key pass. Given his injury history, it was tough to watch him exit this match just as it looked like he was picking up steam in the offense.

F, Ercan Kara, 8 (MotM) — Kara is simply on fire, as he scored his fourth goal in five games. The Austrian forward got his head on Araujo’s long throw at the near post and flicked it on past Callender for Orlando’s first goal. He had more brilliance in the second half for an assist as well, knocking the ball forward for Ojeda to run in on goal unimpeded. The Lions targeted him early and often, and he finished the match with three shots, all with his head. One went just over the crossbar and the other smacked the post early in the match. He won his only aerial duel and completed half of his 16 passes in 75 minutes of action. It was an excellent performance from Kara and he is our clear Man of the Match.


MF, Martin Ojeda (63′), 7 — In his first taste of the Tropic Thunder rivalry, Ojeda scored to restore Orlando’s lead in the second half with his only shot of the match. Only a few minutes after coming on as a substitute, Ojeda was sent in on goal by Kara and beat Callender to swing the momentum back in Orlando’s favor. He was also credited with an assist on Santos’ goal for slipping the ball through a defenders legs for it to reach McGuire, who then found Santos. His fresh legs helped see the game out and he had an interception and a clearance on the defensive side of things. He only had nine passes, completing six of them, and 15 touches, but he certainly made a difference in this one.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel (63′), 7  — The center back came on for Smith in the second half to change the shape of Orlando’s defense. He only had eight touches, but he made them count with three clearances, an interception, and his first MLS assist. A long ball from Schlegel found Kara in the center of the field and the striker passed it along to Ojeda for Orlando’s second goal. He completed three of his four passes and was accurate on one of his two long balls. It’s nice knowing a center back like Schlegel is available, as he can provide both depth and versatility for the Lions.

F, Duncan McGuire (75′), 7 — His assist on Santos’s goal was a simple one, but he did well to hold up play in the box and finding his teammate rather than trying to force a shot from a tough angle or dribbling away from goal. The rookie didn’t take a shot, but got into good positions and was fouled twice. McGuire completed five of his seven passes and added some pressure to help Orlando take all three points back to Orlando.

MF, Mauricio Pereyra (75′), 6.5 — The midfielder was sharp coming off the bench, immediately combining with McGuire in the box to create a chance. He won’t receive credit on the score sheet for his role in Orlando’s third goal, but he did well to receive and then send the ball forward without a sacrifice in tempo. Pereyra completed six of his eight passes and looked good when on the ball.

MF, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson (83′), N/A  — It was another brief appearance for the Icelandic midfielder, as he had four touches and completed all three of his passes in the build up to Orlando’s third goal. There wasn’t enough time in the match for Thorhallsson to receive a grade in this one.

That’s how I saw each performance from the Lions in their 3-1 win over Miami. It’s always nice to see the Lions win, but it’s even sweeter when it’s against a rival. Who was your Man of the Match? Make sure to vote in our poll and let us know what you think in the comments!

Orlando City

Orlando City Enjoyed the Best Summer Stretch in Team History

Orlando City climbed the table in the club’s best summer since joining MLS.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

June, July, August (plus, most of September), and the dog days of summer are officially in the rearview mirror and Orlando City is set to put a cherry on top of what was the best summer stretch in team history when they face Inter Miami tomorrow night at Exploria Stadium. As the season starts to wind down, I felt it was only necessary to take some time to examine the what we all just witnessed…the best summer in team history.

A quick Google search says that the season of summer in the U.S. traditionally starts June 21 on the summer solstice, which we will use as the starting point. I looked historically at the team’s performance from that point in time through the end of summer each season, a.k.a. today, Sept. 23. As a new expansion team in Major League Soccer, Orlando City dealt with the summer heat fairly well and earned 15 and 17 points in 2015 and 2016, respectively. The next two seasons, on the other hand, were much darker times to be a city fan, as Orlando City racked up seven and 10 losses in 2017 and 2018, respectively, during those two seasons. It does not take Sherlock Holmes-level detection skills to know that those summer stretches did not lead to postseason playoff berths. In 2019, the team amassed a decent 18 points during the summer, but only tallied 37 on the season overall.

It should not come as a surprise to any OCSC fan that the team’s best years of success have all come while Oscar Pareja has been at the helm. Prior to this season, the best summer stretch that the team had enjoyed was back in 2021 — also under Pareja’s reign — when the boys put up 23 points, setting a summer team record with six wins. Despite their great summer success, the 2021 Lions were unfortunately not able to keep their strong summer momentum going as they dropped four straight matches after Labor Day that year. Enter 2022, or as I like to call it “the summer of the trophy.” Technically speaking, in the MLS regular season, it was the team’s second best summer, with 20 points to their name. Orlando also happened to lift the U.S. Open Cup during that span last year, so there is an argument to be made that without the additional fixtures, the Lions may have been able to commit more resources to the regular season and would have wound up with more points. I will take the hardware!

This summer it has seemed as though Papi has pulled all the right strings at the right times. Orlando currently not only sits in second place in the Eastern Conference, but second overall in the Supporters’ Shield race and has only dropped two matches from June 21 to Sept. 23 while sporting a +6 goal differential. The Lions amassed 24 points during the summer this year.

Orlando City finding the back of the net more often than conceding makes for quite fun matches to enjoy. The two losses OCSC has picked up throughout the summer this season both have come on the road (at Real Salt Lake and at NYCFC), despite Orlando City earning an MLS-best 25 points away from Central Florida this year.

Orlando City did a great job getting through the hottest part of the calendar while locking up results left and right. Orlando has already secured a spot in the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year in no small part due to the amazing summer the team just enjoyed. As fall comes barreling at us and the MLS playoff home-field advantage race begins to heat up, the performance of the squad this summer should not be taken for granted as championships might not be won in June, July, or August, but poor performances can certainly ensure that they are lost.

Did you have a favorite moment or match from this summer? My favorite moment was what I am calling the Hail Ojeda Mary goal in Charlotte, and my favorite match was the electrifying 4-3 come-from-behind victory against the Columbus Crew. Let us know in the comments below your favorites, and as always, vamos Orlando.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 9/23/22

Lions and Herons meet again, Carly Nelson is writing a book, NWSL free agency opens, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando Pride / Mark Thor

Happy Founder’s Day, Mane Landers! It was on this day in 2014 that our fearless leader and Managing Editor Michael Citro started our first ever WordPress website. It’s safe to say that I’m sure The Mane Land has impacted your life as much as it has mine over the years, whether that be through daily reading or weekly podcasts. Cheers to Michael and all those who have come before me.

In my own personal news, I have been grinding away on the new EA FC 24 (the franchise formerly known as EA’s FIFA.) So far, the gameplay and updates have been great in my initial 15+ hours of play, and my online Ultimate Team is starting to really take its shape. I’m sure in a couple weeks that I’ll transition to a traditional Career Mode and take the Lions all the way to an MLS Cup and beyond.

Before we dive into today’s links, let’s all wish a very happy birthday to everyone’s favorite defensive midfielder, Wilder Cartagena!

Third Bout for Orlando City and Inter Miami

Orlando City and Inter Miami have already met twice this campaign. Sunday’s match will look to break the deadlock between the two rivals as both clubs have a victory to their name in this year’s series. In May, the Lions grabbed a 3-1 victory over the Fort Lauderdale-based club. The two sides met for a second time in the knockout round of Leagues Cup 2023 with Inter Miami taking the 3-1 result at DRV PNK Stadium. No matter the result this time around, Orlando City has already clinched a playoff spot, however, the Herons need every point they can get to attempt to do the same.

Carly Nelson, Goalkeeper and Author

It isn’t unheard of to learn that an athlete might have tried another sport before finding soccer, Orlando Pride goalkeeper Carly Nelson came from a background of gymnastics, tennis, basketball, and baseball before her father started a club soccer team with her in mind. While Nelson might have idolized USWNT legend Hope Solo as a child, she started her playing days as a forward, winger, and midfielder. Outside of protecting the Pride’s net, Nelson is spending time writing a book about her life growing up in Utah and the issues her family faced to hopefully help others that might find themselves in similar situations.

NWSL Opens 2024 Free Agency

The National Women’s Soccer League has officially opened the league’s unrestricted and restricted free agency periods. In accordance with the NWSL Players’ Association’s collective bargaining agreement, eligible free agents can begin negotiations for their 2024 Standard Player Agreements. Players eligible for unrestricted free agency include all who have at least five years of service within the NWSL and contracts expiring in 2023, while players eligible for restricted free agency include those who have at least three years of service. For the Orlando Pride, defender Kylie Strom is set to be an unrestricted free agent and midfielder Jordyn Listro is under restricted terms. Any club that currently holds the rights of a restricted free agent has a seven-day period to match an incoming offer from another club or else the player may sign with the new club under the terms of the offer.

USMNT’s Tyler Adams Nearing Return

Tyler Adams will not make his Bournemouth debut this weekend, but he could return as early as next week. Bournemouth’s manager, Andoni Iraola, provided a positive update on the U.S. Men’s National Team captain as he finishes up rehabbing a long-term hamstring injury.

“He has started this week at least to train partially with the group, so probably we can have a chance of having him next week or two weeks, something like this. Tyler is really close because once you start training partially with the group, it’s a matter of sensations, and if you are physically good enough. He has a very good physical base. So I think it will take not a long time to see Tyler with the team.”

Adams has not played since March after having a hamstring surgery. Even with a known injury, the 24-year-old still completed a move from Leeds United to Bournemouth following Leeds’ relegation to keep him in the top flight.

MLS Weekend Preview

Aside from the Florida derby, there are plenty of matches to be excited about around the league this weekend. Personally, I’m looking forward to catching a bit of the D.C. United and New York Red Bulls match. Manager Wayne Rooney’s club is right on the bubble in a tight Eastern Conference race while the Red Bulls can do themselves a huge service and come back into the playoff picture with a win. Out in the Western Conference, there is a real buzz around a Portland Timbers squad after a manager sacking. It could be a huge win for the Timbers and likely push them above the play-in round should they find a result against the Colorado Rapids.

Free Kicks

That’s all I have for you today, Mane Landers. I hope you all have a fantastic Saturday. Be safe on Sunday at the match. Stay hydrated and look out for those around you. Vamos Orlando!

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Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Inter Miami: Three Keys to Victory

Here are three things the Lions need to do in order to set themselves up for a win over Inter Miami.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Wednesday’s match didn’t go the way anyone hoped it would, but now it’s time to turn our attention to a Sunday matchup with Inter Miami back in the comfortable confines of Exploria Stadium. What follows are three things that I believe will go a long way toward helping the Lions emerge victorious from the Tropic Thunder derby and keeping Florida purple.

Close Down Sergio Busquets

As many headlines as Lionel Messi has rightfully been getting since joining Major League Soccer, I think Busquets is just as important to Miami’s success. He remains an excellent midfielder and his ability to transition the team from defense into attack and link the two lines together is crucial. He has two assists and eight key passes in six MLS appearances and is passing with 92% accuracy —if you give him time, he will make you pay. Even if Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena mark him tightly, he’ll still manage to find space at times and affect the game because he’s that good of a player. But the Lions cannot afford to repeatedly give him time and space to get on the ball, pick up his head, and play a pass or he’ll cut OCSC to ribbons. Getting tight to him and making his life difficult won’t stop him every time, but it’ll make life a hell of a lot easier. As soon as Orlando loses the ball in Miami’s half, someone needs to find no. 5 and close him down.

Play With an Edge, but Don’t Go Over It

This is likely going to be an extremely, fast, physical and heated game. These two teams don’t have any love lost for each other, and if last game is any indication, then Orlando is going to try to use its physicality to disrupt Miami from playing its brand of soccer. That’s not a bad strategy, and it’s one that was largely working during the aforementioned Leagues Cup match until the penalty kick call in the second half. If the Lions are going to try to repeat the tactic, then they need to play with physicality and intensity while toeing the line of what’s acceptable to do during a soccer game. Going down a man isn’t going to do OCSC any favors, so the boys in purple are going to have to flirt with the edge of the cliff without falling headfirst over it.

Stay Organized Defensively

We’ve seen some shaky defending during Orlando’s last two matches. Runners in behind were a particular problem during the match against the Columbus Crew, while Wednesday’s loss to NYCFC saw Talles Magno largely unmarked between two Orlando defenders to score the header that sealed the Lions’ fate. OCSC will likely still be without Antonio Carlos, but the Lions are capable of much better defending than they’ve done during the last week and they need to show it. Even if Lionel Messi doesn’t play, Miami has a whole host of guys who can hurt you in Josef Martinez, Leonardo Campana, Benjamin Cremaschi, Robert Taylor and Facundo Farias. The Lions need to be much more keyed in on defense than they have been the last two games, otherwise one or more of those guys is going to make them pay. Orlando has the firepower to put the ball in the back of the net, but it won’t matter if the team is giving up multiple preventable goals at the other end of the field.

If the Lions execute those three things then they’ve got as good a chance as any of getting a result on Sunday. Vamos Orlando!

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