Connect with us

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. FC Cincinnati: Player Grades and Man of the Match

Here’s how your favorite Orlando City players individually performed in a great 1-0 win on the road against FC Cincinnati.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Orlando City went on the road and did what no other team in the league has done this season by beating league-leading FC Cincinnati at TQL Stadium. Orlando won 1-0 thanks to a goal from Facundo Torres in the first half and stellar defense from start to finish. It wasn’t all perfect for Orlando though, as Duncan McGuire exited due to an injury and Wilder Cartagena was shown a red card late in the match.

Here’s how each Lion individually performed in Orlando’s seventh road win this season, the most in MLS.


GK, Pedro Gallese, 6.5 — El Pulpo came up with four saves for his eighth clean sheet of the season, with his biggest stop being against Luciano Acosta in the 58th minute to keep the Lions in front. Gallese also did well in terms of his positioning and was off his line when he needed to snuff out some of Cincinnati’s long balls and through balls. His distribution could have been a bit cleaner, as he was successful on four of his 15 long balls and completed just 57.7% of his 26 passes, but there were hardly any gaffes from the Peruvian.

D, Rafael Santos, 6.5 — We didn’t see any of Santos’ venomous crosses in this one, as his only cross was unsuccessful. Instead, Santos played a bit more conservatively and the Lions leaned on Angulo when attacking through the left wing. McGuire’s exit and Orlando’s lead also removed the need for Santos to drive forward and put the ball into the box. He was accurate on three of his five long balls and had 51 passes at an 84.3% success rate. The Brazilian had two clearances, an interception, and a tackle to help stop Cincinnati from getting on the board. Both of his shots were from distance and blocked. Santos was subbed out in the 82nd minute, with Kyle Smith taking over at left back.

D, Robin Jansson, 7 — The Beefy Swede picked up a knock earlier this week against Charlotte, but got the start and did very well. Jansson had two clearances, an interception, and blocked a shot, but the stat sheet won’t show just how vital some of his interventions were, such as his denial of a tricky cross to Brandon Vazquez in the 51st minute. The center back had two key passes, was accurate on two of his five long balls, and completed 85.5% of his team-high 55 passes. Jansson kept Orlando’s defense organized and disciplined in one of its best performances this year.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 7 — Schlegel had another busy night and was up to the task, finishing the match with eight clearances, three tackles, and an interception. He won both of his aerial duels and, alongside Jansson served as a brick wall of sorts that Cincy had a hard time breaking down. Of his 29 passes, 86.2% found their mark, while one of his three long balls was accurate. It was another strong shift from Schlegel with Antonio Carlos out due to injury.

D, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 6.5 — Thorhallsson got the start at right back once more and is settling into the role. There were a few shaky moments when he was tasked with dealing with Acosta and Alvaro Barreal linking up on his side of the pitch, but Schlegel was there to back him up and he did enough to stop them from running rampant. In his 81 minutes on the field, he had an interception and a clearance. He also had two key passes and took care of the ball, completing all but two of his 29 passes for an excellent 93.1% success rate. His only cross was inaccurate, and one of his two long balls found their target. His versatility was useful once again for the Lions.

MF, Wilder Cartagena, 6 — After serving a suspension for yellow card accumulation earlier this week, Cartagena picked up a red card as emotions ran high in stoppage time. It was a blemish on a pretty solid performance from the Peruvian. He led the Lions with six tackles and had a pair of clearances, doing some of the dirty work to prevent Cincinnati’s potent offense from picking up steam in the midfield. Although neither of his two long balls were accurate, he had a key pass and 38 passes at an 81.6% success rate. He’ll miss Orlando’s next match, but the Lions didn’t pay the price of his dismissal in this victory.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 6.5 — The 22-year-old did what he does best, helping out in little ways all over the pitch. While Cartagena served as an enforcer of sorts, Araujo moved well off the ball to help his teammates play out of trouble. Araujo had 45 passes at a strong 86.7% success rate, connected on two of his three long balls, and chipped in defensively with a tackle, an interception, a clearance, and a blocked shot. He also attempted a shot within the first few minutes of the match, but it was blocked. Araujo had a golden opportunity to score in the first half when a corner kick found him nearly all alone at the far post, but he couldn’t get a true shot off. All in all, it was the kind of strong outing we’ve grown to expect from the Uruguayan.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 6 — Angulo returned to the starting lineup and was lively, taking on defenders and giving the Lions an attacking option when looking to heave the ball forward. Although none of his four crosses found their man, they were decent efforts and he completed his lone long ball of the match. Angulo played every minute of the match and his speed was helpful when covering ground to defend or get open, especially once the Lions were reduced to 10 men. Of his two shots, the first was sent wide of goal and the second was blocked by Matt Miazga. Angulo had three unstable touches and completed 76.2% of his 21 passes. While he could’ve been a bit more clinical with the ball at his feet, it was a decent performance from the winger.

MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 6 — The captain had a fairly rough game (for him), with some heavy touches and poorly weighted passes costing the Lions some good opportunities. He completed 76.5% of his 51 passes, while completing one of his three crosses and two of his four long balls. Pereyra still contributed towards a goal though, sending Ramiro Enrique forward with tons of room to run in front of him in what ended up earning him his ninth assist of the season .Although he didn’t take a shot himself, he was credited with a key pass for teeing up a shot from distance for Araujo. Pereyra helped out defensively with a tackle and an interception as well.

MF, Facundo Torres, 7.5 (MotM) — The Uruguayan scored his 11th goal of the season to put the Lions in front before halftime. Torres was both patient and clinical when the ball found him in a perfect position in front of goal, slotting it between Ian Murphy’s legs and past Roman Celentano. He only had one other shot in his 81 minutes of action, sending it off target, but his movement off the ball opened up Orlando’s offense. Torres completed an impressive 90.3% of his passes, though only one of his four crosses was accurate and his lone long ball was unsuccessful. He did have a key pass as well, along with winning a team-high three fouls. Defensively, he helped out with two interceptions and a clearance. In a match where Pereyra wasn’t at his best and McGuire exited early, Torres came through to give Orlando a winner on the road.

F, Duncan McGuire, 5.5 — The rookie’s night was cut short in the first half, when a battle with Miazga for a ball left him with an injured shoulder. He made a few dangerous runs, but finished with just four touches, while completing three of his four passes. The forward did not receive much service while on the field, as the Lions didn’t cross too often and had a few miscues while building possession early on. Hopefully the injury isn’t too serious, as Orlando transferred Ercan Kara to Samsunspor this weekend.


F, Ramiro Enrique (33′), 6.5 — Enrique had to come on in the first half after McGuire’s injury and stepped up with a nice run and his first assist as a Lion. Pereyra freed him forward on a counter attack and he made a great cutback pass while sliding to keep the ball in play to find Torres open in the box. Of his three shots, two came in quick succession during corner kicks soon after he came on. His size made things difficult for him in the box, as he struggled to get enough on either shot from tough positions. Enrique’s other shot was an effort from outside the box that went wide of goal. He completed all but one of his 12 passes for a great 91.7% success rate and both of his long balls were successful. With Kara gone, Enrique will need to provide more moments like his assist moving forward.

MF, Martin Ojeda (67′), 5.5 — The Designated Player came on in the second half and helped Orlando close out the game. Although he didn’t have any defensive stats or give the Lions an insurance goal, Ojeda played a part in containing Cincinnati’s attacks on the right side of the defense by applying pressure. He had eight passes, completing five of them for a 62.5% rate, and finished with 14 touches. Although his three unstable touches were something that could’ve gotten better in his performance, Orlando was doing whatever it could to clear the danger rather than build attacks.

D, Kyle Smith (82′), N/A — Smith made another brief appearance off the bench, coming on for Santos at left back. He had two tackles and a clearance, doing his part in securing all three points on the road. Smith ended the game with seven touches and two passes, completing one. His only long ball of the game didn’t end up connecting with a teammate.

D, Michael Halliday (82′), N/A — Coming on for Thorhallsson, Halliday helped shore up the right back position before the game reached its conclusion. While he looked a bit nervy and needed backup at times, Halliday was fairly reliable when defending and had two tackles and three clearances. Only one of his four passes was accurate and none of his three long balls were successful, but it’s not worth looking too harshly at that considering the Lions were defending a lead and not sending players forward.

MF, Junior Urso (82′), N/A — The Bear came on for Torres to give Orlando some fresher legs and a little more bite in the midfield. He completed his only pass, had a clearance, and received a yellow card for a foul a fair distance from goal. With Cartagena set to miss the next game, we’ll see if Urso gets the start.

That’s how I saw each player’s performance in the huge road victory. It was a real team effort from Orlando, but be sure to vote for who you think deserves the title of Man of the Match. Let us know what you think in the comments below as well.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 12/2/23

The Pride sign a new keeper, the MLS playoffs continue, the USWNT is in action, and more.



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Salutations on this satisfactory Saturday, Mane Landers. We’re heading for the home stretch of 2023, and what a year it has been. Make sure that you are catching all of our Season in Review articles for both the Orlando City and Orlando Pride players. Things tend to happen personnel-wise in December, so be prepared. Until then, let’s check out today’s links. But first, let’s wish a happy 26th birthday to Orlando City goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar.

Pride Sign a New Keeper

The Orlando Pride signed Finnish goalkeeper Sofia Manner from FC Honka of Finland’s top flight, the Kansallinen Liiga. With the addition of Manner, the Pride have four keepers on the roster heading into 2024. Manner is expected to compete for the starting job, though the same could be said of both Anna Moorhouse and Carly Nelson. It is unlikely all four netminders will be on the Pride once the season starts. Manner has international experience and was the best keeper in the Kansallinen Liiga.

MLS Conference Finals Tonight

I wouldn’t blame you if you decided not to watch the remainder of the MLS playoffs after last weekend’s disappointing result. However, if you are going see how it all sorts out, you might want to study up on the matches. We’re all too aware that the Columbus Crew will be facing FC Cincinnati to see which club wins the Eastern Conference. Over on the other side, LAFC will take on the Houston Dynamo to determine the Western Conference champion.

MLS Player Moves

As the playoffs come to a close, the signings and transfers around the league are ramping up, but who will stay and who will go? New York Red Bulls midfielder Dru Yearwood is heading to Nashville SC as reported by The Athletic (paywalled) since Dax McCarthy is out of contract there and won’t be returning.

The Philadelphia Union have signed midfielder Jesus Bueno to a new three-year contract through 2026 with an option for 2027. Meanwhile, Gustavo Bou won’t be returning to the New England Revolution. So, um…maybe he’d like to come south and score goals for Orlando City rather than against the Lions? Before anyone gets too crazy, it should be on a non-DP deal.

USWNT Hosts China

The USWNT is back in friendly action against China this afternoon in Ft. Lauderdale at 3 p.m. and then on Tuesday, Dec. 5 at 8 p.m. in Frisco TX. Interim head coach Twila Kilgore will be in charge since newly-named Head Coach Emma Hayes doesn’t start until the 2023-2024 Women’s Super League season in England is over. Hayes is the current head coach of Chelsea FC Women’s. This is the first match between the two teams since 2018, and a lot has changed. The USWNT has been very solid on defense in 2023, allowing only two goals back in the SheBelieves Cup.

Free Kicks

  • If you haven’t heard of a “sin bin,” think of it like a penalty box in hockey. The idea has been getting a runout in lower league matches in English football by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) with some good results. It’s not yet confirmed, but MLS may institute the change in 2024. The idea is to reduce dissension by having a player sit for 10 minutes during a match. Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou has spoken out against the idea. What do you think of the concept?
  • Real Salt Lake has promoted Kurt Schmid to sporting director and interim chief soccer officer.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo will have to deal with a $1 billion class-action lawsuit for his role in promoting NFTs for Binance. Maybe that’s why he signed for Al-Nassr in the Saudi Pro League?
  • Speaking of the Saudi Pro League, it looks like Mohamed Salah may not be leaving EPL side Liverpool anytime soon. The prolific striker is looking for a new contract to stay at Anfield.
  • I’ll take things Pedro Gallese would not do for $400, Alex.

That will do it for today. Please go forth and enjoy your weekend!

Continue Reading

Orlando City

2023 Orlando City Season in Review: Kyle Smith

Let’s look back at The Accountant’s fifth MLS season.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Fullback Kyle Smith was originally signed on Dec. 21, 2018 when James O’Connor was Orlando City’s head coach. He proved to be a valuable Swiss Army knife-type player and earned a new contract on March 29, 2021 through the 2022 season with a 2023 club option. Orlando City picked up his 2023 option at the end of the 2022 season but then signed Smith to a new one-year contract for 2023 just weeks later with an option for 2024.

Let’s have a look back at The Accountant’s fifth MLS season.

Statistical Breakdown

Smith appeared in 25 matches during the 2023 regular season, starting 17 times and logging 1,501 minutes. It was his third-most appearances but his second-most minutes since making the jump from Louisville City to MLS ahead of the 2019 season. He scored one goal and assisted on three others, setting a new career high in the latter category. Smith attempted seven shots, putting two on target. He passed at a 78.7% clip, including nine key passes, five successful crosses, and 36 successful long passes. Defensively, Smith recorded 35 tackles, 16 interceptions, 40 clearances, and two blocked shots. He drew eight fouls while committing 20 and was booked five times on the year.

The 31-year-old appeared in all three of Orlando City’s three playoff matches — both off the bench — and logged 65 minutes. He did not score a goal or assist on one, attempting one shot, which he put on frame. He passed at an 82.5% rate in the postseason. He posted two tackles and a clearance defensively. He did not commit a foul or draw one and he wasn’t booked.

In the 2023 Concacaf Champions League, Smith came off the bench in the first leg at Tigres, playing minutes, passing at just a 25% rate (small sample size), did not attempt a shot, did not draw or concede a foul, and was not booked.

During Leagues Cup play, Smith appeared in all three of Orlando’s matches (all starts), logging 150 minutes. He did not contribute to a goal or attempt a shot in the tournament, committing four fouls and earning two yellow cards. Smith did not play in Orlando City’s lone U.S. Open Cup match.

Best Game

Smith’s best match of 2023 came in Orlando City’s 1-1 home draw against Atlanta United on May 27, and not only because that’s when he scored his lone goal of the season, although that doesn’t hurt. El Soldado started and went the full 90 minutes. He fired two shots on the night, putting one on target (and in the net), and passed at an exceptional 90.3% rate on 31 attempts, which was his third-best passing night of the season. He completed two successful long balls on two attempts, chipping in four clearances (second only to Antonio Carlos), a tackle, and an interception on the night. His big moment came in the 30th minute, when a well-worked attack up the left kicked out to him on the right side. Smith was perfectly positioned and made no mistake in putting the Lions ahead 1-0.

Although the match was spoiled by a late equalizer, Smith turned in one of his best performances since joining Orlando City and if not for his goal, the outcome might have been a lot more somber than a 1-1 draw.

2023 Final Grade

Smith received a composite score of 6 out of 10 for his 2023 performance from The Mane Land staff. This is an improvement over the 5.5 he earned last year but slightly below the 6.5 he earned for the 2021 season. Previously, Smith was given a 5.5 in 2020 and he got the same score after the 2019 season. The staff awarded Smith for his effort, versatility, and willingness to do whatever it takes to win. He is the quintessential team player. But beyond all of the above, he simply played well most of his minutes on the pitch. At his age, he’s going to struggle to contain the league’s speediest wing players, particularly when playing on his weaker left side, but his ability to adapt is unquestioned. The perfect example of that was when he was tucking inside from his fullback spot earlier in the season to add an additional player to the midfield and freeing Facundo Torres up to have more space in which to operate on the right side.

2024 Outlook

Smith’s return may ultimately rest with whether or not Oscar Pareja stays on with the Lions, although a decision might need to be made earlier than that, as the club must make a decision on his option. Pareja has valued Smith’s versatility and work ethic over the last few years, and with more competitions and matches than ever before, it’s always good to have a depth player who can plug and play in multiple positions. He played his second-most MLS minutes in 2023, so he’s still seeing the field plenty.

If I had to guess, and this section is for exactly that, I’d say the club will either exercise his option or sign him to a new one-year deal with an option year for 2025. However, what complicates matters is that Smith is over age 24 and has played five MLS seasons, which means he’s eligible for free agency. If he’s back in 2024, I would expect him to again be a key backup at both fullback positions, getting some spot starts in U.S. Open Cup or when fixture congestion is heavy.

Previous Season in Review Articles (Date Posted)

Continue Reading

Orlando City

2023 Orlando City Season in Review: Abdi Salim

We continue our Orlando City player retrospectives with a look at one of the Lions’ 2023 draft picks.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City used its third pick of the 2023 MLS SuperDraft to select Abdi Salim with the 17th overall pick. Salim played his college soccer at Syracuse and the Lions picked up the center back to help with depth at a position that didn’t really have a ton of established bodies behind Antonio Carlos, Robin Jansson, and Rodrigo Schlegel. He was then signed to a one-year deal in February that contained three option years for the 2024, 2025, and 2026 seasons.

Let’s have a look at Salim’s first season as a professional.

Statistical Breakdown

Salim made his Major League Soccer debut at home against FC Cincinnati on March 4. It was Salim’s only start of the year and he went the full 90 minutes as the Lions drew 0-0 against the eventual Supporters’ Shield winners. He made two other appearances in away games against D.C. United and Charlotte FC, both of which ended as 1-1 draws as he finished with 148 MLS minutes on the year.

Defensively he recorded four tackles, four interceptions, three clearances, a block, and won two aerial duels. He did not record any offensive statistics, but was solid with his distribution as he averaged 87.3% passing accuracy and completed one cross and one long ball each.

Given that it was only his first season as a professional, he spent the bulk of his time in MLS NEXT Pro with Orlando City B. With the Young Lions he played in 16 matches, starting 14 of them and racking up 1,162 minutes. He finished with 11 interceptions and a tackle while committing seven fouls and drawing 11 and picking up one yellow card. Salim took nine shots, put two of them on target, and scored a goal on each one he got on frame. He passed very well, finishing with a 90.2% success rate, two key passes, and 18 long balls.

Best Game

The honor of his best game goes to his first ever professional appearance, when he started and played the whole game in the aforementioned 0-0 draw against FC Cincinnati. Salim finished with three tackles, three clearances, and an interception while passing with 87% accuracy, completing a long ball on his only attempt, and helping the Lions keep a clean sheet at home. He was a bit shaky at first, as he was deployed as the third center back in a three-man back line, but he settled down in the second half and finished with a grade of 5.5 out of 10 from Nic Josey.

2023 Final Grade

Given that Salim didn’t crack 200 minutes and we require a minimum of 450 to award a grade for the season, he receives an incomplete for the 2023 season. He did some good things when down with Orlando City B, and filled in well enough with the senior side when called upon, but we simply need to see more of him in order to figure out what he’s really able to do.

2024 Outlook

It’s likely that Salim will spend more time with Orlando City B next season, but with no one seemingly laying claim to the fourth center back position, he should have a chance to show what he’s capable of during preseason. He seemed to be in competition with Thomas Williams for the back up spot not occupied by Rodrigo Schlegel, but he may have moved past him in the pecking order as he made more appearances than the Homegrown signing, both with OCSC and OCB. Regardless, as an inexpensive young player with potential, there’s no reason to think he won’t be here next year.

Previous Season in Review Articles (Date Posted)

Continue Reading