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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.

Orlando City

Intelligence Report: Orlando City vs. LAFC

Get some insider information on LAFC courtesy of someone who knows the team best.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

We find ourselves at the end of another week, which means that another Orlando City match is almost upon us. Following a two-week break, the Lions will return to action with a home contest against LAFC.

A date with LAFC means I got some insider info on the opposition from Trebor Tracy, the managing editor of Angels on Parade. They’re another former SBNation blog that has gone independent, and they continue to do excellent work covering LAFC, Angel City FC, and Orange County SC, so make sure you check them out!

Catch me up on some of LAFC’s off-season transfer business. Who are some names that were brought in, and who went out the door?

Trebor Tracy:  LAFC came into this season as close to a rebuild project as you can be for a team many expect to compete for championships and trophies each year. In the off-season the team saw 15 departures from the 2023 squad, and that’s not counting loans out. Among the bigger names leaving Los Angeles were both goalkeepers that helped lift LAFC to the 2022 MLS Cup, midfielder Kellyn Acosta, defenders Denil Maldonado and Diego Palacios, and of course, the departure of inaugural signing Carlos Vela. This was a team expected to look completely different this season and it has. As for the arrivals, the team spent the off-season loading up on the likes of goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, forwards Kei Kamara and Cristian Olivera, and defender Omar Campos. The rough start to the year for Los Angeles had a lot to do with the newness of the team and having to build that familiarity within the XI. 

Of the incoming transfers, who has made the biggest impression? Is there anyone who you’d like to see performing better than they have been so far?

TT: Its been hard for LAFC to replace a lot of the departures — not just in terms of production, but leadership and experience in several cases. While not technically an off-season arrival, Cristian Olivera, who arrived in summer window of 2023, really came into his own this season. With an entire off-season under his belt, he has by far been the best of the new arrivals for LAFC. He is producing goals, creating opportunities for others, and has that confidence this team thrives off of. On the other side of the coin, Hugo Lloris has been the biggest disappointment. In fairness to him, he has drastically improved during the team’s recent run, but the start of his MLS career had him easily one of the worst keepers in the league. 

LAFC is on a five-game unbeaten run in league play, what’s been working so well for the team during this stretch?

TT: Speaking of that run, the play of Lloris is why they have done so well recently. Well, that and Denis Bouanga appears to have found his soccer boots again. The 180 those two have done has been the catalyst for the team’s great run of form lately. 

Will any players be unavailable for selection due to injury, suspension, call-ups, etc.? What is your projected starting XI and score prediction?

TT: Availability reports come out night before the match, and we have the team presser this afternoon. with a few players set to return, I am unsure at the moment as to who exactly will be  ready to go.

Thank you to Trebor for helping get us caught up on LAFC. Vamos Orlando!

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Orlando City

Orlando City Needs to Start Using the Scoreboard Again

A deep statistical dive into Orlando City’s offensive struggles. We’re warning you…there will be math (but we do it for you).



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

One of the more memorable scenes in my favorite movie of all time, Bull Durham, is when the manager walks into the showers after another loss, yells at the team about their recent performance, and ends with “this (baseball) is a simple game: you throw the ball, you hit the ball, you catch the ball. You got it!?” Soccer is, of course, a little different but the concept remains the same. You pass the ball, you shoot the ball, you score the ball. Unless you are Orlando City, recently.

Anyone can look at the recent results for Orlando City and see that goals have been, shall we say, less than plentiful. But why is that happening? Well, one idea may be that another team in Orlando is using up all the goals, with the Orlando Pride having scored 19 (excluding opposition own goals) to Orlando City’s 15, with the Pride having played four fewer games to boot, but goals are not a zero-sum equation (I know you asked your math teacher for years when you would ever need to use equations in the real world; you’re welcome!), so let’s dive into what has been going on for Orlando City and take a look at what may be causing an average of 0.94 goals/game (again, excluding opposition own goals) in the 2024 MLS season after an average of 1.6 goals/game in 2023.

Wayne Gretzky famously said, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,” but I do not think a lack of shots taken is the main culprit for this Orlando City team this season. Yes, in the last match against the Red Bulls the Lions only managed five shots (all stats in this article are courtesy of,  in collaboration with Opta, which codes thousands of matches every weekend across hundreds of competitions all over the world), but for the 2024 season, Orlando City is averaging 11.8 shots/game, 1.1 shots/game fewer than the league average of 12.9 but actually 0.1 higher than Orlando City’s 11.7 shots/game from 2023. Orlando City’s 11.8 shots/game ranks 23rd in all of MLS — not great, but the team with the most shots/game, St. Louis FC at 16.8, has only earned one more point than Orlando City after playing the same number of games, and the correlation (I told you there would be math) between shots/game and goals is relatively weak (r = 0.25, a strong positive correlation would be an r between 0.7 and the maximum r value of 1.0), so a higher value of shots/game does not necessarily lead to more goals.

What does tend to lead to more goals is more shots on target. I know, I know, you never would have thought of that. And as we look into shots on target for Orlando City in 2024, lo and behold, this is where we start to really see where the problems have arisen this season. Orlando City ranks 26th in MLS this year with 29% shots on target, so when you combine a rank of 23rd in shots/game with a rank of no. 26 in shots on target, you get a team that has scored a low amount of Goals as compared to the rest of the league. Orlando City’s 29% shots on target rate in 2024 is an 18% decrease from its 2023 shots on target percentage of 36% (7% raw decrease (36%-29% = 7%) but an 18% percent decrease (29%/36% – 100% = -18%), and the Lions’ 29% shots on target percentage is 1.28 standard deviations below the MLS average.

This is probably the time for me to tell you I was that high school math teacher who students asked about using math in the real world, and I did teach AP statistics, where we frequently talked about standard deviations and 1.28 standard deviations below the average is, in this case, to use a technical term, u-g-l-y and they ain’t got no alibi.

Is it as ugly as Bubba Sparxxx rapped about back in 2000? Was that just a question to make a pop culture reference about a song I enjoyed when I was in high school? Yes and yes. The first time I ever heard former Orlando City coach Adrian Heath interviewed he said, “Goals change games,” which of course is obvious and means that those who are taking the most shots need to be game changers. Looking at the table below, we can see who has been taking the shots and the differences between 2024 and 2023:

At first glance there is some good news. Orlando City’s leading shot takers this year are generally shooting on target around the league average, but it is on the clinical side, the goals per shot on target and goals per shot attempt where we can see that Orlando City is struggling.

We do see that Duncan McGuire continues to be clinical when he gets his shots on target, but the big drop for him is that last year he put nearly three out of every four shots on target and this year he is down to something much closer to the league average of around one out of every three. Among players with at least 17 shots last year (I chose this number because it would be 0.5 shots/game across 34 games and because it is my father’s favorite number), Duncan ranked first out of 244 MLS players in shots on target percentage and in goals per shots on target, and though his numbers this year are still above average, he is down to 43rd and 13th out of the 108 players who have taken more than 17 shots, respectively (keeping the same shot volume threshold for consistency). Four other major takeaways from me on this chart:

  • Facundo Torres was second on the list for most shots taken in 2023 and was an excellent finisher (this does include penalties, but they are shots and you have to make them), but in 2024 he is tied for fifth in shots with Dagur Dan Thórhallsson at only 15 shots taken.
  • Martin Ojeda remains a high volume shooter, but he is looking much more like Jordan Poole than Steph Curry this year with a lot of shots on target but not a lot of makes. And by not a lot I mean, sadly, zero.
  • Orlando City as a whole is taking shots from slightly closer to the goal but the team’s most frequent shooters are shooting from farther away than last year, and you do not need me as a math major to tell you that goalkeepers would prefer long shots over close shots.
  • Ercan Kara was a somewhat maligned striker for Orlando City, but he was pretty lethal when he got a shot off, putting more than two out of every five shots on frame and scoring at twice the MLS average on goals/shot. His 2023 shot volume is low on this chart because he left halfway through the season, but in his two years in MLS he scored at 21% and 22% on goals/shot, which put him in the upper echelon of shooters in the league.

Going back to McGuire and where he ranked in all of MLS, here is a heat map, but with the corresponding percentile ranks of Orlando City’s players among players who took at least 17 (hi Dad) shots (red to green scale — 0% (dark red, very low performance) to 100% (dark green, very good performance).

The comparisons between 2024 and 2023 are the most stark again in the columns involving goals, as in 2023 Orlando City’s most frequent shooters were scoring in the upper echelons of all MLS players, and this year there is much more red/orange than green for those with at least 17 shots. The other biggest differences of course surround who is taking the shots. Luis Muriel has arrived and has taken the most shots in 2024, but looking at his career shooting stats there is not a lot of evidence that being a lethal finisher is something in his skillset. Barbra Banda he is not, but then again nobody is Barbra Banda (except Barbra Banda), and expecting Muriel to change his playing style to be more of a finisher rather than initiator while adapting to a new league and teammates is lot to ask for someone who joined after the season began.

The bigger need for Orlando City is to get McGuire back on the field and to get Torres going, Facundo’s shots/90 minutes is down more than 50% from last season (largely owing to playing a lot of wingback over the last several weeks), and for someone who was in the 94th percentile in goals/shot in 2023 to have decreased their shot volume by so much is the opposite of what you want. Plus, Facundo is my son’s favorite player and he misses seeing Torres’ selfie celebration.

I want to end with a positive, however, and that is wrapped around the concept of regression to the mean. In the case of Orlando City this would actually likely be a positive regression as opposed to a negative one. During the last four years, MLS has been remarkably stable in terms of goals/shot on target (35%, 32%, 33%, 33%) and goals/shot (12%, 11%, 11%, 11%). Just because the league has been stable does not mean that Orlando City automatically will improve, but with the talent of the players on the squad and their history, I think it is more likely than not that Orlando City’s low performance so far in 2024 will come back up towards league average — much like a Major League Baseball player’s batting average on balls in play often evens out over time based on their level of skill.

Orlando City has talented players, including many who led the team to the best record in the team’s history last season, and I believe it is likely that we will start seeing small increases in goals/shot on target and goals/shot as the season progresses. I certainly hope we do, because it is much more fun when Orlando City masters this simple game and scores the ball, scores the ball, and scores the ball.

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 6/14/24

Orlando City prepares to take on LAFC, Lions linked with Alan Saldivia, Orlando City B draws against Chattanooga FC, and more.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Friday! I’m working for most of this weekend but am still looking forward to the absurd amount of soccer ahead of us. Both Orlando City and the Orlando Pride have games Saturday, and the 2024 Euros should give us some exciting matches from teams we don’t watch all too often. Let’s dive right into today’s links!

Orlando City Prepares for LAFC

The international break is over and Orlando City is back in action Saturday night for a home game against LAFC. It’s been a difficult season for the Lions so far, and they have been shut out in three of their past five games. Points have been hard to come by at home for Orlando and a match against one of the best teams in the Western Conference won’t make that any easier. With David Brekalo at the Euros, Rodrigo Schlegel is expected to start and it would be his 100th MLS appearance. Ramiro Enrique would also make his 50th appearance across all competitions as a Lion should he take the field.

Lions Linked Reportedly Bow Out of Bid to Sign Defender Alan Saldivia

With the MLS summer transfer window looming, a rumor surfaced of Orlando City making an offer to sign Uruguayan center back Alan Saldivia from Colo-Colo in Chile. The Lions reportedly offered $1.5 million for the 22-year-old, but that doesn’t reach the $2.2 million Colo-Colo wants at minimum. The Lions reportedly would not go higher. While center back isn’t exactly a pressing need for the Lions at this time, Saldivia would have given the team a young and talented player who could anchor the defense for years to come.

Orlando City B Drops Points in Disappointing Draw

OCB hosted Chattanooga FC and had to settle for a 2-2 draw after giving up a lead not once, but twice. The Young Lions had Chattanooga on the ropes late in the match, taking the lead just before the end of normal time, only to get punched in the mouth in stoppage time and then lose the penalty shootout. It was the second straight 2-2 draw at home for the Young Lions and they’re still on the hunt for their first win this month. OCB’s next game will be on the road against New York City FC II on Wednesday.

Getting Ready for the MLS NEXT Cup Playoffs

The MLS NEXT Cup playoffs kick off Saturday as the best teams across four age groups compete in a knockout format. Orlando City’s U-15 squad was recognized as one of the title contenders in its age group and will take on Real Salt Lake in the round of 32 on Saturday . The team also did well in MLS NEXT Flex, and Jakob Garcia, who has scored 18 goals in 21 games, is the kind of attacker who can make all the difference in knockout matches. Orlando’s U-17 team is capable of making a run as well, although it faces a tough first match on Sunday against the Philadelphia Union, which won the 2024 Generation Adidas Cup. It should be a fun tournament, and hopefully Orlando’s teams can advance far enough to be included in the games streamed on MLS Season Pass.

Free Kicks

  • Carl Robinson is back in MLS after Atlanta United hired him as an assistant coach. The 47-year-old played for Toronto FC and the New York Red Bulls to close out his playing career and also served as the head coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps.
  • Chicago Fire Designated Player Xherdan Shaqiri reportedly wants to return to Europe. The 32-year-old has been with the Fire since 2022 but hasn’t lived up to his billing and his contract is set to expire after this season.

That’s all I have for you today. I hope you all have a fantastic Friday and rest of your weekend!

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