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Orlando City vs. Real Salt Lake: Player Grades and Man of the Match

How did your favorite Lions perform against Real Salt Lake?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City went on the road to Sandy, UT and was blanked 4-0 by Real Salt Lake on a forgettable Saturday night. The Lions traveled cross country for the matchup and battled tired legs and the altitude, along with the formidable hosts. Here’s how each Lion performed individually in the loss against RSL.

Starters

GK, Pedro Gallese, 6 (MotM) — Just a few nights earlier, Gallese had virtually nothing to do in a 4-0 victory. But on Saturday night, El Pulpo was on the other end of a 4-0 drumming. Without Gallese in goal though, it strangely enough could have been an even larger deficit. He faced 15 total shots throughout the match, with RSL putting six on frame. He conceded four goals on the evening, two from set pieces which were horribly defended in the first half and an additional two from wide-open, point-blank range in the second half. There was little he could have done on the four goals. Gallese was accurate on 31 of his 34 passes (91.2%), including nine accurate long balls on 12 attempts.

D, Rafael Santos, 5.5 — The left back completed 40 of his 43 passes (93%), including one key pass and four accurate long balls on seven attempts. Two of his six crosses were accurate. while going the full duration of the match. A player who has been growing into his role as off late showed some regression as there were multiple times he found himself out of position and much of RSL’s danger came from his side of the pitch. On the defensive side of the field, Santos was successful on both of his tackles, and logged one clearance, one blocked shot, and one interception. Santos also won one aerial duel during the match. Santos logged one ill-advised shot that was blocked and nearly turned into a breakaway the other way for Cristian Arango, and was dispossessed twice.

D, Antonio Carlos, 6 — AC and his center back partner Robin Jansson were mostly fine until the game got stretched after the two set piece goals. Whether Carlos or Wilder Cartagena was responsible for Arango on the first goal isn’t clear, but the Brazilian went for the headed clearance and came up just inches short. The two goals from open play came from the opposite side from Carlos, who completed a respectable 39 of his 47 passes (83%) with three successful long balls on seven attempts. Additionally, Carlos recorded one successful tackle, one blocked shot, and four clearances, while drawing two fouls.

D, Robin Jansson, 6 — The Swedish center back was culpable on the fourth goal, but he still probably kept the game closer than it could have been with a couple of timely vital challenges, including the one mentioned above on the blocked Santos shot that would have seen Arango in alone on Gallese without his intervention. Jansson also completed a decent 44 of his 52 passes (84.6%) with two successful long balls, albeit on six attempts. He won one aerial, blocked a shot, and was credited with one interception, but knocked another potentially dangerous ball out for a throw. Jansson did not record a clearance or tackle on evening and was also limited getting forward into the attack in this match while committing two fouls, one of which was super soft on the offensive end during a corner kick.

D, Kyle Smith, 5.5 — Subbed off after 58 minutes of action, Smith’s tired legs were apparent with several passes and clearances fired off the opposing player in front of him. He only completed 11 of his 20 passes (55%), which included two accurate long balls on five attempts and two inaccurate crossing attempts. He was unsuccessful on both of his tackle attempts, while winning one aerial duel. On offense, Smith was able to put one shot on target, but it was basically right at the goalkeeper. Smith committed and drew two fouls a piece in less than an hour of game play. It is unclear if it was always the game plan for Smith to come off around the hour mark or not but it did appear as if he might have picked up a slight knock and motioned to the bench prior to being subbed off.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 6 — The Uruguayan was one of the better defenders on the pitch for OCSC in this one. Araujo completed 32 of his 37 passes (86.5%), including one key pass and four successful long balls on five attempts. Defensively, he completed three of his five tackle attempts and blocked a shot but did not record a clearance or interception. A game removed from scoring his first MLS goal, Araujo failed to record an offensive stat throughout the match, going 0-for-2 on cross attempts, but did manage to draw two fouls on the night. He was unable to do anything to stop Justen Glad on the second RSL goal but perhaps shouldn’t have been tasked with covering the team’s biggest aerial threat.

MF, Wilder Cartagena, 5.5 — The Peruvian ended up marking nobody on the first Real Salt Lake goal to start the scoring deluge. He completed 23 of his 25 (92%) passes on the night without a key pass and his lone long ball attempt was not accurate. He also recorded two tackles and one successful aerial duel throughout the match. Cartagena logged one successful dribble but was also dispossessed once. He committed two fouls, including picking up a tactical yellow card, and was ultimately subbed off in the 58th minute for fresh legs.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 6 — The speedy Colombian at times looked like the only Orlando City player who had life left in his legs after a long week. He completed only seven out of 11 passes (64%) but did manage one key pass. On offense, he completed one of his two attempted dibbles while being dispossessed twice. He suffered one foul and also recorded one shot but sent it nowhere near the goal frame. On defense, Angulo chipped in with two successful tackles on three attempts.

MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 6 — Pereyra played the full 90 minutes and completed 37 of his 48 passes (77.1%), recording two key passes on the night. Seven of his long balls were accurate but none of his three crosses were. In a game mostly devoid of rhythm, the maestro tried unsuccessfully to unlock Orlando City on the offensive side of the pitch. He was dispossessed three times, while the ball often stuck at his feet. He did win one aerial duel, while contributing two tackles on the defensive side of the ball. Pereyra committed two fouls but drew a team-high five.

MF, Facundo Torres, 6 — For the second straight match, Facu failed to affect the stat line that mattered most — goal contributions. He completed 27 of his 34 passes (79.4%) and contributed one key pass. He was two-for-two on long balls but his lone cross was off target. Torres had one shot on target early in the match, which was just a little to close to the keeper but still required a good save. The Uruguayan also won an aerial duel, logged an interception, and completed one successful tackle. He was subbed off in the 76th minute for fresh legs and will undoubtedly welcome a week without a midweek fixture.

F, Duncan McGuire, 5 — The striker completed four of his six passes (66.7%) and put only one of his three shot attempts on target. He had a good go from distance just seconds into the match that could have changed the entire complexion of the game had it gone in, but it missed just wide. While he showed good hustle to track back and steal the ball from Braian Ojeda, he then not only quickly lost it back, but committed an unnecessary and silly foul that set up the first RSL goal. McGuire wasn’t able to impose himself on this particular game and much of that is due to good defensive work by RSL and Orlando City failing to find any connectivity in the final third. He only had 15 touches and didn’t attempt a cross or contribute a key pass. McGuire won two aerial duels and was unsuccessful on his lone tackle attempt while committing two fouls in 65 minutes on the field.

Substitutes

D, Martin Ojeda (58’), 6 — Orlando City elected to bring fresh legs on a little prior to the one hour mark as Designated Player Martin Ojeda looked to get the Lions back into the match. Ojeda completed nine of his 11 passes (81.8%), with one successful long ball on two attempts and one shot on target — albeit from too far away and without much pace. His only cross attempt was off the mark. Once RSL found the net for the third time, any chance of Ojeda helping to claw OCSC back into the match seemed to evaporate into the mountain air.

MF, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson (58’), 6 — The midfielder/defender provided fresh legs but was unable to provide his usual burst of energy, while completing all seven of his attempted passes (100%) in 32 minutes. He provided one key pass, committed one foul, and defensively wasn’t burned in a decent but uneventful showing.

MF, Ramiro Enrique (58’), 4.5 — Coming on with Ojeda and Thorhallsson, Enrique took the place of Angulo on the wing. He completed five of his six passes (83.3%) in a little over a half hour on the pitch. His lone shot attempt on the evening was badly hit and ended up being more embarrassing than dangerous. Enrique was able to win one aerial duel and recorded one interception. But he was largely invisible despite playing more than half an hour, registering only 10 touches, going 0-for-1 on crosses and failing to produce a key pass.

F, Ercan Kara (65’), 5 — Kara came on for McGuire at a point in the match where Orlando may have felt that if it could just pull one back than it may have a shot to salvage a point on the road. Instead the offense was never able to really get him meaningful service. Like Enrique, he only touched the ball 10 times. He was successful on five of his seven passes (71%) and logged one key pass while winning an aerial duel. He also recorded an interception.

D, Luca Petrasso (76’), 4.5 — Petrasso subbed on late for Torres and completed two of his four passess (50%) but did little else to have a positive effect on the match. He didn’t close down Jefferson Savarino quickly enough on the third Real Salt Lake goal, allowing the hosts to ice the game. He managed just six touches.


That is how the players graded out from an absolute drumming out west. They will have a full week off before an incredibly important match on the road in Atlanta. Vote for your Man of the Match in our poll below, and let us know your thoughts on who stood out to you.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 11/30/23

Orlando City faces big questions, Matt Miazga suspended, Emma Hayes meets USWNT for first time, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

November is finally coming to a close. It’s been a bit of a rollercoaster of a month for me, with highs, lows, and many things in between. All in all, I’m pretty glad it’s nearly over, although I expect December to be similarly hectic. At least this weather is allowing me to break out some winter clothes and turn on the fireplace in this new apartment. I’m not sure why a fireplace was installed in a Floridian apartment, but I’m not complaining. Let’s dive into today’s links!

Big Decisions Await Orlando City

With Orlando City’s season over, attention now turns to a critical off-season for the club. Head Coach Oscar Pareja is out of contract after leading the Lions to the playoffs for the past four years. The club will also need to decide if it will exercise the 2024 options on the contracts of both Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Luiz Muzzi and Technical Director and Assistant General Manager Ricardo Moreira. All three have orchestrated Orlando’s transformation that’s included winning its first trophy, having its best season this year, and qualifying for both the Concacaf Champions League and Champions Cup. Potentially transferring Facundo Torres to Europe, filling the empty Designated Player slot, and deciding which players to bring back for 2024 are also on the agenda. However, figuring out who will lead the Lions into this exciting next chapter is paramount. Personally, I think the club should do everything in its power to keep the people who brought Orlando to this point.

Matt Miazga Suspended for Three Games

FC Cincinnati will be without MLS Defender of the Year Matt Miazga for Saturday’s Eastern Conference final, as he was suspended by MLS for three games due to his misconduct after the match with the New York Red Bulls on Nov. 4. Miazga was also fined an undisclosed amount and will undergo a behavioral assessment as part of the league’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program. Following that aforementioned playoff match, reports surfaced that Miazga gained unauthorized access to an area reserved for the referees and acted aggressively. Any suspended games not served during Cincy’s playoff run will carry over into the 2024 season, although Miazga can petition for a reduction based on compliance with recommended treatment plans.

Emma Hayes Meets With USWNT Players and Staff

Emma Hayes, who was hired as the next United States Women’s National Team Head Coach earlier this month, made the trip to Florida to meet the team for the first time. Although she won’t be coaching the team for its upcoming pair of friendlies against China, she collaborated with interim head coach Twila Kilgore on the latest training camp roster and will continue to work with her until taking over in May. There won’t be much time between Hayes’ official start date and the 2024 Summer Olympics, making these moments of face time between player and future coach all the more important. USWNT captain Lindsey Horan spoke on the team’s goals after meeting Hayes for the first time.

“There’s so much talent in this team, and I don’t think the world has seen enough of it yet just because we need to go out and show it,” Horan said. “We need to be able to mesh together and show everything that we have, and what we’re all about, and how we can really collaborate and play together — be more of a team and be a powerhouse again.

“It’s going to be exciting for us to have her and see what she can do with this team and how she can help us moving forward.”

Ricardo Pepi Sends PSV Into Champions League Knockout Stage

PSV Eindhoven clinched its spot in the next round of the UEFA Champions League in dramatic fashion, with American forward Ricardo Pepi scoring the winner in a 3-2 comeback win over Sevilla in Spain. Trailing 2-0 in the second half, American left back Sergino Dest provided the assist on PSV’s first goal and Pepi found the winner in stoppage time, with fellow American Malik Tillman also coming off the bench. From his little flick to send a teammate forward to his run and clinical header, it was a great goal by the 20-year-old.

Elsewhere in the Champions League, Arsenal beat Lens 6-0 to advance, Real Madrid won 4-2 against Napoli to win its group, and Real Sociedad played to a scoreless draw with RB Salzburg. Manchester United remains in last place of its group after a 3-3 draw with Galatasaray, with goalkeeper Andre Onana unable to stop Hakim Ziyech from scoring off of two free kicks. All’s not lost for United though, as it can still qualify for the round of 16 by beating Bayern Munich at home so long as the other match ends in the group ends in a draw. It all makes for what should be an exciting final matchday in the group stage.

Free Kicks

  • The Kansas City Current announced that American midfielder Sam Mewis will not be returning to the club for the 2024 season. The 31-year-old has not played since 2021 as she continues to recover from a knee injury.
  • The Utah Royals have signed free agent forward Imani Dorsey on a contract through the 2025 season. Dorsey has most recently played for NJ/NY Gotham FC, although she didn’t participate in this past season due to mental health reasons.
  • Manchester United is reportedly ready to move on from Mason Mount just six months after he joined the team from Chelsea.
  • Tomasz Kwiatkowski, the video assistant referee involved in a controversial handball that eventually led to Paris Saint-Germain’s equalizer in stoppage time against Newcastle, was removed from his next scheduled duty by UEFA.
  • Amidst a four-game winless streak, French club Nantes has fired Pierre Aristouy as its manager, immediately replacing him with Jocelyn Gourvennec.
  • We’ll end our links with this interesting article that dives into how Romelu Lukaku unexpectedly arrived at AS Roma and how he’s thriving at the Italian club.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a wonderful Thursday and rest of your week!

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Orlando City

2023 Orlando City Season in Review: Alex Freeman

We start our Orlando City player reviews with a look at a Homegrown fullback who made his MLS debut this season.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City B

Orlando City signed fullback Alex Freeman to a Homegrown Player contract on February 15, 2022. He became the Lions’ 12th Homegrown signing and his deal runs through the 2025 season with a club option for 2026, but the youngster did not see action in Major League Soccer last season. With the departure of Ruan, there was an opportunity for Freeman to win a job with the first team in camp but he wasn’t quite ready to make the jump, instead playing an important role with Orlando City B throughout the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro season.

Let’s take a look back at Freeman’s 2023 campaign.

Statistical Breakdown

Freeman made his MLS debut on April 29 in a 2-0 home win over the LA Galaxy. It was not just his debut with the first team, but it was also his only appearance with the senior squad in 2023, although he did make the substitutes’ bench a few times after that. Officially, he logged only one minute, entering in the 93rd minute. He was only on the pitch a matter of seconds, so it’s unsurprising that he registered nothing on the stats sheet.

The son of former NFL receiver Antonio Freeman, Alex starred with OCB in 2023. In MLS NEXT Pro play, Freeman appeared in 24 of OCB’s 28 matches, starting 22, and logging 1,855 minutes. He finished tied for third on the squad in goals (4), adding three assists and passing at a 79.1% success rate. Freeman attempted 25 shots, putting 11 on target, and contributed 10 key passes. He committed 22 fouls, drew 27 on the opposition, and was booked four times. He also started OCB’s playoff match at Columbus, playing 89 minutes in the Young Lions’ 2-1 road loss. Freeman didn’t contribute a goal or assist or attempt a shot in the match, but he passed at an 88% rate, created one scoring chance, and committed one foul.

Best Game

With only one MLS appearance to his credit, the default best game for Freeman came on April 29 in Orlando City’s 2-0 home win over the LA Galaxy. Freeman didn’t even officially touch the ball in the game, but it’s not every day a teenager gets to play in an MLS match, and I’m sure it was a special moment for him. It was certainly a milestone in his professional soccer career.

2023 Final Grade

As Freeman fell well short of the minimum 450 minutes played mark 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. There are areas of Freeman’s game that need a bit of refining, but at the same time, it’s easy to see why he landed a Homegrown contract, why Orlando City would find him an intriguing prospect, and why he’s been getting called up by the United States for U-20 international duty. His attacking presence was huge for OCB in 2023 and he was one of the key players that led the Young Lions to the postseason.

2024 Outlook

I would expect Freeman to get more seasoning at OCB in 2024, although he’ll be given opportunities in preseason camp to show whether he’s closed the gap on the likes of Michael Halliday and Kyle Smith (assuming both return). If the club moves on from both Halliday and Smith, it’s not hard to picture Freeman starting the season providing depth at right back for the first team. Having just turned 19 in August, Freeman has a lot of potential and he should start to unlock that within the next year or so.


This is the first of our 2023 Orlando City Season in Review articles. Every player who played minutes this past season and who finished the year on the club roster will be reviewed (exceptions may be made for players let go when the club officially announces its roster moves). Players who logged fewer than 450 minutes (combined regular season plus playoffs, Concacaf Champions League, U.S. Open Cup, and Leagues Cup) will receive a composite score between 1 and 10 as determined by a panel of The Mane Land writers, while those who did not reach that threshold will receive an incomplete grade.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 11/29/23

Orlando Pride players called up by Brazil, MLS announces 2023 Best XI, latest MLS roster moves, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Hello, Mane Landers I hope all is well down in Florida. I’ve been very busy working throughout the holiday weekend at Under Armour. This week I’ll be working at Wrigley Field for Winterland while getting ready to cover high school wrestling tomorrow night. There is plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links.

Pride Players Called Up By Brazil for Friendlies

Orlando Pride defender Rafaelle and forwards Marta and Adriana have been called up to the Brazil Women’s National Team for its upcoming friendlies.

Brazil will play two matches against Japan on Nov. 30 and Dec. 3 in Sao Paulo before playing Nicaragua on Dec. 6 at Estadio Fonte Luminosa in Araraquara.

MLS Announces the 2023 Best XI

Major League Soccer announced its 2023 Best XI, recognizing the league’s top players at each position. There were no Orlando City players selected for the team and eight players received the honor for the first time. Those players are St. Louis City’s Roman Burki and Tim Parker, FC Cincinnati defender Matt Miazga, Atlanta United duo Thiago Almada and Giorgos Giakoumakis, Houston Dynamo midfielder Hector Herrera, LAFC’s Denis Bouanga, and Columbus Crew forward Cucho Hernandez. Nashville SC’s Hany Mukhtar made the Best XI for the third consecutive time, while teammate Walker Zimmerman was named to it for the fifth time. MLS MVP Luciano Acosta of FC Cincinnati rounds out the list.

Latest MLS Off-season Roster Moves

The Colorado Rapids announced their latest roster changes as they prepare for the the 2024 season under new Head Coach Chris Armas. The club exercised its options for defender Andrew Gutman, midfielder Ralph Priso, and forward Calvin Harris. The Rapids declined contract offers to seven players, with the most notable names being defender Steven Beitashour and goalkeeper William Yarbrough, although the Rapids are in discussions about re-signing Yarbrough. Elsewhere, the New England Revolution exercised the permanent transfer option on forward Tomas Chancalay, signing him to a Designated Player contract through 2026, with a club option for the 2027 season.

UEFA Champions League Roundup

Champions League action returned in Europe, as we get close to wrapping up the group stage in a couple of weeks. Manchester City overcame a two-goal deficit to beat RB Leipzig 3-2 and win Group G. Newcastle United had a chance to qualify for the round of 16 but gave up a late penalty to Paris Saint-Germain, which Kylian Mbappe converted to end the match in a 1-1 draw. Borussia Dortmund beat AC Milan 3-1 to book its spot in the knockout stage. PSG, Newcastle, and AC Milan are all still alive in Group F heading into the final matchday in December. Shakhtar Donetsk won 1-0 against Royal Antwerp and also still has a shot to advance on the final matchday. Lazio, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, and Young Boys all won their respective matches as well. Today’s matches include Manchester United on the road against Galatasaray, Real Madrid taking on Napoli, and Sevilla facing off with PSV Eindhoven.

Free Kicks

  • Concacaf has announced that BMO Stadium, Dignity Health Sports Park, Shell Energy Stadium, and Snapdragon Stadium will be the four venues that will host matches for the 2024 Concacaf W Gold Cup.
  • Barcelona midfielder Gavi will be sidelined for up to 10 months after undergoing knee surgery after suffering a torn ACL in his right knee.
  • The International Football Association Board approved a trial for sin bins, meaning players punished for dissent or specific tactical offense would be temporarily removed from the match for a set amount of minutes.
  • You have got to see this goal from Cwrt Rawlin FC in the Welsh seventh division.

That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Wednesday and I’ll see you next time.

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