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?
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!
Intelligence Report: Orlando City vs. Colorado Rapids
Familiarize yourself with the Colorado Rapids, courtesy of someone who knows them best.
Another Orlando City game is almost upon us, as the Lions look to both extend their five-match unbeaten run and pick up two wins in a row. This week sees the Colorado Rapids come to town for the first home game of June.
A match with the Rapids means I spoke to Matt Pollard, of Burgundy Wave. That’s another site that has gone independent and the folks over there are continuing to provide great coverage of the Rapids, so make sure to check them out!
What were some of the big incoming and outgoing transfers for the Rapids ahead of this season?
Matt Pollard: The three biggest incoming players in terms of expectations were Kévin Cabral, Connor Ronan, and Andreas Maxsø.
Cabral is probably the highest-risk, highest-reward signing when it comes to the Rapids going after distressed assets. So far, it hasn’t panned out. He presses well, but that’s about it. The same issues he had at LA Galaxy (getting called offside, not finishing) are present here in Colorado. The difference is, he’s the focal point instead of the third player opposing defenses worry about.
Ronan and Maxsø have been great. Ronan was brought in to play alongside Jack Price. When Price went down for the season, Ronan stepped into the No. 6 role and adjusted well. He’s tidy at the back, works hard off the ball, and is one of the better assist providers on the team. Maxsø has been good defensively in the air and good at emergency defending. The Rapids typically give up goals by making a series of small errors. Rarely is the Great Dane one of those players who makes a mistake on a goal.
It’s hard to say if there were any significant departures from last year’s team. Most fans weren’t surprised or bummed out when Gyasi Zardes signed for Austin FC. The left back position has been an issue, so maybe Lucas Esteves. But he had some attitude issues and was hot headed. Robin Fraser’s such a culture guy, he wasn’t worth the headache.
It’s been a difficult start to the season for Colorado, what has been the biggest reason for the team’s struggles?
MP: Injuries. Injuries. Injuries. Price went down for the season in his second appearance. Diego Rubio has had three separate injuries. Maxsø was under concussion protocol for two games. I’ve lost count of how many players have had hamstring issues. As I’ve written about previously for Burgundy Wave, the infrastructure at Dick’s (Sporting Goods Park) is showing its age. The team had a really bad stretch in March and April with practice fields and winter sticking around. They’ve missed key players. They’ve had limited depth. All while playing eight games in May. Hopefully a full week of training has them healthy and refocused for Saturday.
With plenty of games left to play and only sitting six points out of the play-in spots, the Rapids are far from dead and buried. What needs to happen for Colorado to turn the season around?
MP: Get healthy and get going offensively. Rubio is still their only reliable chance creator. All their goal scorers have been streaky. If Rubio comes back healthy and can give the Rapids the production he had last year (a club-record 16 goals and seven assists), that would be fantastic. Add in Cabral, Jonathan Lewis, and Braian Galván having a good finishing streak, and they could be ok. Orlando fans should be wary of Michael Barrios coming off the bench tomorrow. All 12 of his goals for the Rapids have come in the second half.
Are there any players who will be unavailable for selection due to call-ups, injuries, suspensions, etc? What is your projected starting lineup and score prediction?
MP: The injury report just came out and there are only four players on it. That’s tied for the lowest of the season! Rubio is questionable, and Fraser’s been really cautious with his key players coming back from injury. I can’t see him getting more than 20 minutes Saturday. Moïse Bombito is suspended for a harsh second yellow against San Jose, so expect Lalas Abubakar to start at center back. Price is out, as mentioned previously. Max Alves is still removed from team activities as he’s under investigation for participation in a sports gambling scheme in his native Brazil.
Marko Ilic; Danny Wilson, Andreas Maxsø, Lalas Abubakar; Sam Nicholson, Keegan Rosenberry; Connor Ronan, Bryan Acosta, Cole Bassett; Jonathan Lewis, Darren Yapi.
I think Orlando wins a tight, ugly game. Oscar Pareja knows how to poop-house the Rapids. 1-0, Facundo Torres scores. I do think we’ll see one of the better performances from the Rapids of this winless stretch for what that’s worth.
Thank you to Matt for the excellent info and helping get us up to speed on the Rapids. Vamos Orlando!
Lion Links: 6/9/23
Orlando City gets ready for the Colorado Rapids, OCB faces FC Cincinnati 2 on Sunday, U-20 World Cup final is set, and more.
How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope this Friday finds you well as we gear up for a weekend filled to the brim with Orlando soccer. My friends are taking me out for teppanyaki and scorpion bowls tonight, so it should be a pretty nice day on my end. Hopefully your Friday goes smoothly as well. Now, let’s dive into today’s links from around the soccer world.
Orlando City Prepares for the Colorado Rapids
The Lions are on a five-game unbeaten run as they get ready for a home match tomorrow night against the Colorado Rapids. Facundo Torres scored twice in the team’s 3-0 win over the New York Red Bulls last weekend. Hopefully he can keep the momentum rolling against a Colorado team that’s allowed 25 goals this season and sits last in the league in points per game, with just two wins in 17 matches. Pedro Gallese also recorded his 26th clean sheet for Orlando in last week’s win, and could make his 100th appearance as a Lion tomorrow night. The Lions will have to keep an eye on Irish midfielder Connor Ronan, who has six assists in his first season with the Rapids.
Orlando City B Aims to Bounce Back at Home
After a 3-0 defeat to Toronto FC II in Canada this past weekend, Orlando City B will look to right the ship on Sunday at home against FC Cincinnati 2. The Young Lions are unbeaten at home this season, winning four of their six games at Osceola Heritage Park. The last time these two teams played was in August of last year, with Cincy winning in the penalty shootout following a 2-2 draw. Although he didn’t score in that match, OCB forward Jack Lynn scored three goals against Cincinnati last year and currently leads OCB with six goals this season. Sunday’s match should be a good opportunity for OCB’s offense to bounce back against a leaky Cincy defense.
USMNT Players Focused Despite Coaching Search
With European seasons over, American players who have been plying their trade abroad are back in the U.S. to prepare for the Concacaf Nations League and Gold Cup this month. The team will be coached by B.J. Callaghan in an interim capacity while the search for a head coach continues. Although not having a permanent head coach for these tournaments isn’t ideal, Nashville SC center back Walker Zimmerman spoke on how the team still knows how to get the job done.
“We’re a team that has a very strong team chemistry, strong culture within our group. And we know that for us, not much has changed right now,” said Zimmerman. “We know the same principles, style of play, expectations, accountability – all those things are the same. So I think that’s player-driven, to hold each other accountable to the standards that we’ve set over the past four years. BJ, he’s on top of it. He’s knowledgeable about what we want to do, how we’re going to go about these games.”
The roster includes many of the players who featured in the World Cup last year, but the striker position is one to watch due to the new faces involved. Folarin Balogun is with the team for the first time and it will be interesting to see how he measures up against Ricardo Pepi, Alex Zendejas, and Jesus Ferreira. We will get to see who spearheads the USMNT’s attack next Thursday, when the Yanks take on Mexico in Las Vegas.
Italy and Uruguay Reach U-20 World Cup Final
Only two teams remain in the U-20 World Cup after Italy and Uruguay each won their semifinals. Uruguay, which beat the U.S. in the quarterfinals, beat Israel 1-0, thanks to a goal in the second half from Anderson Duarte. In Italy’s semifinal against South Korea, Cesare Casadei’s terrific tournament continued as he gave Italy the lead in the 14th minute. South Korea equalized soon after with a penalty kick, but 17-year-old forward Simone Pafundi scored a nice free kick to send Italy into the final.
The final will take place on Sunday at 5 p.m., with the third-place match set for 1:30 p.m. It will be Italy’s first time playing in a U-20 World Cup final, while it will be Uruguay’s third time after losing in 1997 and 2013.
- American defender Josh Wynder is headed to Benfica. The Portuguese club signed the 18-year-old from USL Championship club Louisville City for a reported $1.2 million transfer fee, which would be a record amount for a USL player.
- FC Cincinnati and the Houston Dynamo will host in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals. Both matches will be on Aug. 23, with the Dynamo playing Real Salt Lake and Cincinnati facing Inter Miami.
- Speaking of FC Cincinnati, the club is reportedly close to signing Gabonese forward Aaron Boupendza as a Designated Player for a $7 million transfer fee. Boupendza had 11 goals in 17 appearances for Al-Shabab in the Saudi Pro League this past season.
- Brooklyn will be home to a USL League One team, which will begin playing in the 2025 season.
- Liverpool agreed to buy back its Melwood training ground with the intention of turning it into a training facility for its women’s team.
- Czech police stated that 23 West Ham and Fiorentina fans were arrested for their actions while in Prague for the Europa Conference League.
- Liverpool signed midfielder Alexis Mac Allister to a contract through 2028. The 24-year-old had 12 goals and three assists last season for Brighton.
That’s all I have for you today. Have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!
Orlando City vs. Colorado Rapids: Three Keys to Victory
What does Orlando City need to do to earn all three points at home against the Rapids this Saturday night?
Orlando City is back home in Exploria Stadium and hosting the Colorado Rapids this Saturday night. The Lions are coming off a big road win over the New York Red Bulls, and will want to extend the five-match unbeaten streak. What does Orlando City need to do to secure all three points at home this weekend?
Survive the First Half
Colorado has been better in the first half of matches this season than in the second half. The Lions can expect the Rapids to come out strong, looking for an early goal. If Orlando City can play smart on defense, maintain possession, and limit Colorado’s chances for the first 45 minutes, plus stoppage time, the odds of winning at home go up.
I’m most worried about the first 15 minutes and the last five minutes of this half. It’s going to be contingent upon the effective midfield pairing of Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena to break down the Rapids’ attack. Araujo was in training this week despite going off injured in the last match, indicating it wasn’t that serious and he may be available. Cartagena has quietly been fantastic the last few matches, and there’s no reason to think that won’t continue.
Behind that pair is another line of defense, including Robin Jansson and Antonio Carlos, that can clean up anything else that gets through. Carlos has mostly been great, although he’s had a few less-than-stellar matches, and Jansson has been excellent. If Orlando City weathers the first half in good shape, I’ll feel better about the Lions getting three points.
Ride the Hot Feet
Oscar Pareja has trotted out the same starting lineup the last couple of matches, and I don’t expect he will mess with the success. After the last match, Ivan Angulo and Facundo Torres will be feeling pretty good, and we don’t want those confidence-boosting performances to be wasted. There will be plenty of time to let them rest if they can help provide the team with a two-goal lead after the 60 minute mark.
The same goes for Ercan Kara. No he didn’t have a goal last match, but that had more to do with dealing with the New York Red Bulls press than anything else. His last goal was three matches ago against Inter Miami, but he is putting the work in regardless, and I think he’s primed to find the back of the net against Colorado.
Regardless of the scoreline, look for Pareja to bring on Martin Ojeda and Duncan McGuire to either put the match away or look for a positive result. Duncan can be a terror against a team that doesn’t play well in the second half, and Ojeda seems due for a goal. He certainly isn’t shy about taking chances, and eventually one of them is going to result in a goal.
Too many times in Orlando City history, the Lions have played a team on a winless streak — the Rapids haven’t won in their last six matches — and been the team to let the opposition get back on track. The Lions are also riding a five-match undefeated streak heading into Saturday’s match. It’s the type of match that tends to worry scarred Orlando City supporters, and I have those bad thoughts and feelings as well. As Michael Scott said on The Office, “I’m not superstitious, but I am a little stitious.” If Orlando City could not feed into that phenomenon, it would be great.
I think that sometimes the Lions want to give the home crowd a win so badly that they get nervous and end up pressing too hard, or trying to slip a pass into too tight of a window. When that happens, the natural flow of an offense that is looking better, passing better, and scoring goals will give the ball away cheaply. My suggestion is for the players is to just relax. Pretend it’s a road match if necessary, but just keep calm and let the match develop naturally.
That’s what I’ll be looking for this Saturday night from my seat in Exploria Stadium. Since I’ll be down for this one, please make sure to say hello if you see me.
Intelligence Report: Orlando City vs. Colorado Rapids
PawedCast Episode 351: Colorado Rapids Preview, the Miami Messi Mess, and More
Lion Links: 6/9/23
My First Orlando City Road Match: New York Red Bulls
Lion Links: 6/6/23
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