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Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew: Player Grades and Man of the Match

How did your favorite Lions rate in the their massive 4-3 comeback win over the Crew?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

It might be two days later, but the feelings from Orlando City’s dramatic 4-3, come-from-behind win over the Columbus Crew haven’t faded yet, despite a trip to New York City FC looming on Wednesday. The Lions refused to give up on the game, even when Cucho Hernandez put Columbus ahead by two goals with less than a third of the match remaining.

Let’s take a look at how Orlando City’s players rated individually in a crucial Eastern Conference win.

Starters

GK, Pedro Gallese, 7 — It’s not often you give a good score to a goalkeeper who gives up three goals, but there was little El Pulpo could do about any of the three. He was hung out to dry on two of them and Diego Rossi did a superb job of bending the second Crew goal past him and just inside the post. Gallese made seven saves in the match and some of them were incredible. His best sequence was a massive double save on Yaw Yeboah and Hernandez in the 42nd minute, keeping the deficit at just one goal entering the half. Gallese’s distribution was good, as he passed at an 81% rate and completed six of his 11 long balls. He also recorded a clearance.

D, Rafael Santos, 5.5 — I thought the young fullback took a step back in this match. He struggled to get cross attempts past the first defender, was caught up the field on the third Crew goal, and had an unstable touch. His lone shot attempt from outside the box was off target, but to be fair, it didn’t miss by much. He was 0-for-3 on crossing accuracy and just six of his 13 long balls found their target. His passing rate was a meh 68.6%. Defensively, he contributed two interceptions but nothing else and committed a foul. The Brazilian has had better matches.

D, Robin Jansson, 6.5 — Jansson had another solid night and even though he kept Columbus onside for one of the Crew goals, that one came off of a defensive-zone turnover, so it’s hard to fault him too much for the sudden change. Jansson passed well (93.2%) and three of his four long balls were accurate. He recorded a tackle and two clearances and mostly kept the middle clean, as the Crew created most of the defense’s problems from the wide areas.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 6.5 — Schlegel’s biggest mistake in this game was anticipating a pass that didn’t come and then getting beaten by the one that did. He’s always going to be a high-risk, high-reward kind of defender and it bit him on that play but he was mostly solid on the night. Defensively, he led the team in interceptions (3), made two clearances, and blocked a shot. Schlegel led the team in passing accuracy (97.3%) and completed all three of his attempted long balls. He also attempted one shot that was on target.

D/MF, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 5.5 — This grade may seem a bit weird to some, but it’s kind of a split rating. At fullback, it was a tough night for the Icelandic import. Yeboah’s pace and the movement of the Crew’s forwards off the ball created issues for him. He kept the Crew onside for Julian Gressel’s opening goal, getting out of alignment with his back line teammates. He also got beat for pace on well-timed runs on long through balls, although there’s not much one can do about their pace. When he moved to the midfield, he helped the Lions climb back into the game. Defensively, he recorded one tackle, two interceptions, and a team-high three clearances. His passing rate was good (86%) and he completed his lone attempted long ball.

MF, Cesar Araujo, 6.5 — It was another solid night from the Uruguayan. Araujo drew a team-high four fouls on the opposition, helped gum up the middle against a lethal opposing attack, and did well to connect the back line to the attackers. His passing was a solid 85.4% and he recorded a pair of key passes. He recorded one clearance as well. Araujo doesn’t get a lot of accolades, but he simply plays solidly every night.

MF, Felipe, 6.5 — The Brazilian was a surprise starter on the night but he played well and even picked up his first assist as a Lion — the secondary helper on Orlando City’s first goal. His pass sent Ivan Angulo down the right and it led to Martin Ojeda’s tying goal early in the second half, making it 1-1 at the time. Felipe helped glue the lines together, passing at an 87.1% rate, contributing a key pass, and completing two of his three long balls. He recorded two tackles, only committed one foul, and drew one from the Crew. Oscar Pareja sacrificed him in the 57th minute to send Facundo Torres on.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 6 — It might seem harsh to hand Angulo a 6 when he recorded three key passes, including an assist, and used his speed to track back well to help out primarily on Dagur Dan’s side. However, too many transition opportunities were wrecked on the night due to a misplaced pass by the speedy winger. One good example was his overweighted ball that could have sent Ojeda in on goal but instead forced the Argentine to sprint hard to the end line and send it directly at the goalkeeper from a tough angle. Angulo took one off-target shot, passed at a 79.2% rate — the lowest percentage of all midfielders — completed one of his two crosses and was inaccurate on his lone through-ball attempt. Defensively, he chipped in a tackle and an interception.

MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 6 — The captain was solid, if unspectacular, starting in the attacking midfield, then cycling to the No. 8 spot in the second half. He lost the ball too often with two unstable touches and he was dispossessed twice. He did not attempt a shot and completed 83.3% of his passes, one of his two crosses, and one of his two long balls, while recording one key pass. He chipped in a tackle and a clearance defensively, committing two fouls while not drawing one. The captain sent a fantastic ball forward that led (eventually) to Torres’ goal in the 73rd minute. Pereyra came off in the 80th minute for Michael Halliday, which moved Thorhallsson into the midfield.

MF, Martin Ojeda, 8 — With Torres dealing with a leg contusion, Ojeda got a rare start and he made the most of it. He scored Orlando City’s first goal, picked up the primary assist on the second, and delivered the service that led to the third and fourth. Ojeda contributed a team-high five key passes, put one of his two shots on target, and passed at an 87.5% rate, completing all three of his long balls and two of his team-high eight crosses. He even contributed a clearance on the defensive end. On another night, Ojeda could easily be our Man of the Match.

F, Ramiro Enrique, 8.5 (MotM) — It was a spectacular performance for the young Argentine, who filled in for Duncan McGuire after the rookie picked up a knock late in training and was held out as a precaution. Enrique tied the match in the 86th minute and won it in the 97th. He also picked up a secondary assist on Torres’ goal. Enrique put all three of his shots on frame, and would have had a hat trick had his point-blank shot not been right down the middle, where it made for an easier save for Patrick Schulte. He drew three fouls on the Crew, won a team-high three aerials, and contributed three clearances on the defensive end. His passing rate of 79.2% doesn’t catch the eye, but that’s fairly high for a forward. If Enrique can build some consistencey off of this performance, the Lions won’t miss the depth that Ercan Kara provided behind McGuire throughout the year. Hopefully, the yellow card Enrique picked up for taking off his shirt during his celebration of the winning goal won’t come back to haunt him, as it was his third of the season.

Substitutes

MF, Facundo Torres (57′), 8 — Torres replaced Felipe as Orlando City had fallen behind by a goal and Orlando City needed a spark. Boy did the Uruguayan provide one. The game changed noticeably once Torres took the pitch and within a couple of minutes, he’d already attempted two shots, although one of those was off target and the other blocked. Despite playing less than half the game, Torres led Orlando in shots (5), putting two on target. His exellent finish in the 73rd minute gave the Lions new life, and he recorded an assist on the game winner, ducking low to head Ojeda’s free kick cross back across the box and into Enrique’s path. The Uruguayan passed at just a 66.7% rate without attempting a cross or a long ball. Despite assisting on the game-winning goal, he was not credited with a key pass. Like Ojeda, on another night, Torres would have my Man of the Match vote. There’s a strong argument, as his presence changed the match.

D, Luca Petrasso (70′), 5.5 — The Canadian came on for Santos and did well to generally help put out fires on his side, although he didn’t provide much going forward. He didn’t pass particularly well (57.1% on just seven attempts), but did block a couple of crosses. He contributed a tackle and a clearance.

F, Jack Lynn (70′), 5 — OCB’s leading goal scorer came on for Angulo as the Lions were hunting goals to get back into the game. He figured in Torres’ goal, pulling a defender wide, which provided room for Enrique to collect the ball, starting the goal sequence. Lynn only managed two touches, winning two aerial balls. He completed one of his two passes.

D, Michael Halliday (80′), N/A — The American youth international came on to provide some coverage on Yeboah’s side to guard against the counter while Orlando pushed to tie — and then win — the game. He managed 10 touches, won an aerial, passed at a 71.4% rate, and recorded an interception.


That’s how I saw the individual performances on Saturday night as Orlando City climbed into second place in the Eastern Conference. What did I get right/wrong in your view? Be sure to vote for your Man of the Match in our poll below and provide your thoughts in the comments section.

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. D.C. United: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More

The Lions look for their first road result of the season when they visit Audi Field.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Welcome to your match thread for a Saturday night matchup between Orlando City and D.C. United at Audi Field (7:30 p.m., MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+). This is the first of the two scheduled MLS matches this season between the Lions (1-3-2, 5 points) and the Black and Red (2-1-4, 10 points). D.C. United will make the return trip to Orlando on Saturday, July 6.

Here’s what you need to know ahead of the match.

History

The Lions are 6-9-2 against D.C. in the all-time league series since the club joined MLS, and 6-9-3 in all competitions. Orlando is just 2-5-1 in MLS road matches against D.C. and 2-5-2 away to United in all competitions. The Black and Red have managed four consecutive results in the series (3-0-1), while Oscar Pareja is 5-6-2 in his managerial career against D.C.

The last meeting between the teams came in Orlando on April 22, 2023, with D.C. scoring twice in the second half to snap a 1-1 deadlock and win, 3-1. Taxiarchis Fountas, Donovan Pines, and Christian Benteke scored for D.C. to more than offset Duncan McGuire’s strike.

These teams squared off in D.C. just a few weeks before that in D.C., splitting the points in a 1-1 draw at Audi Field on March 11. McGuire scored his first MLS goal but Chis Durkin leveled things late in a match that was sandwiched between Orlando City’s two legs of Concacaf Champions League play against Tigres UANL.

D.C. swept the season series in 2022, despite being a terrible team that “won” the league’s Wooden Spoon by no small margin. The meeting in D.C. that year took place July 31 and saw Orlando City dominate the first half but miss multiple glorious chances to put the game away early. The Lions were wasteful and took only a 1-0 lead into stoppage time, thanks to Junior Urso’s first-half goal, only to fall 2-1 on stoppage-time strikes by Durkin and Fountas.

The teams also met on Independence Day at Exploria Stadium, with D.C. putting together a performance out of nowhere in a 5-3 road win. Fountas netted his first MLS hat trick and Kimarni Smith and Nigel Robertha added their first goals of the season. Facundo Torres, Ercan Kara, and Alexandre Pato scored for Orlando, threatening to bring the Lions back, but Orlando could never get on level terms.

The teams met twice in 2021, including Oct. 2 at Exploria Stadium. Daryl Dike scored deep in stoppage to lift the Lions to a 2-1 home victory. Robin Jansson scored a first-half goal off a corner kick scramble to offset an early Julian Gressel strike. The first match of 2021 took place on May 16 in D.C., with the Lions winning 1-0 on an early Mauricio Pereyra goal. That win snapped United’s 3-0-1 streak in the series in league play and 3-0-2 in all competitions dating back to City’s previously most recent win over D.C. back in 2017.

The teams did not meet in what was an odd 2020 season.

D.C. United swept the season series in 2019, winning 1-0 at Audi Field back on June 26, 2019. Wayne Rooney’s wondergoal from his own half of the pitch caught Brian Rowe napping and served as the only scoring in that match. The Lions fell 2-1 at home on March 31, 2019, with set pieces ruining the night for Orlando. You might recall the controversy that surrounded the winning goal, with then-coach James O’Connor visibly upset after the match. Steve Birnbaum scored the first on a set piece and Rooney scored the second on a free kick that he took from wherever the hell he wanted rather than where the foul occurred. Frederic Brillant bulldozed Rowe on the play as the ball sailed into the net.

D.C. was 1-0-2 in three total meetings (two in league play) in 2018. Orlando swept the two league meetings in 2017, the teams split two lopsided games in 2016 — with each team winning at home — and the Black and Red went 2-1-0 in the first three meetings back in 2015.

Match Overview

Orlando City is coming off an unsatisfying 1-1 draw against the New York Red Bulls at home two weeks ago. The overall performance was good, but the Lions continue to waste scoring chances and make mistakes in their own end. Kyle Smith conceded a penalty, allowing Lewis Morgan to score from the spot. The Lions got an own goal late to at least claim a point when the combination of Ivan Angulo’s wicked cross and Jack Lynn’s run forced Noah Eile to deflect the ball past his own goalkeeper. Orlando has at least managed two straight results (1-0-1).

However, the Lions have been dreadful away from home to start the season. Orlando City is 0-2-0 after two road matches, getting outscored 7-0 in visits to Inter Miami and Atlanta United.

D.C. is off to a solid start to the season under Head Coach Troy Lesesne. The Black and Red are 1-0-2 in their last three matches, including a 1-1 draw at defending champion Columbus a week ago. D.C.’s only loss came at home, however, as the club is 2-1-0 at Audi Field in 2024. That loss came against Inter Miami on March 16.

The Lions will need to be aware of where Christian Benteke is at all times. The former Crystal Palace, Liverpool, and Aston Villa man leads D.C. in goals (5), shots (23), and shots on target (11). D.C. looks for him often and from everywhere, and he’ll be a handful on set pieces. Polish international Mateusz Klich is another D.C. player that Orlando City will need to keep an eye on. Klich has a goal and a pair of assists on the year.

“I’ve seen a [D.C. United] team that’s very organized,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said. “[Lesesne] has modeled the defense. I recognize in prior matches with him and his systems. But the nature of his players, D.C.’s players are dynamic, organized, and very bold defensively. I’ve seen the games they’ve played this season and I notice they are a team that is organized, and we have to be organized.”

The only player on Orlando City’s availability report heading into the weekend is Ramiro Enrique (ankle), who remains out. D.C. lists Steven Birnbaum (knee), Russell Canouse (unspecified non-injury reason), Theodore Ku-Dipietro (hip), and Tyler Miller (shoulder) as out for the match, while Garrison Tubbs (thigh) is listed as questionable.

Mandatory Match Content


Projected Lineups

Orlando City (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.

Defenders: Rafael Santos, Robin Jansson, David Brekalo, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson.

Defensive Midfielders: Cesar Araujo, Wilder Cartagena.

Attacking Midfielders: Ivan Angulo, Facundo Torres, Martin Ojeda.

Forward: Duncan McGuire.

D.C. United (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Alex Bono.

Defenders: Connor Antley, Lucas Bartlett, Christopher McVey, Aaron Herrera.

Defensive Midfielders: Jackson Hopkins, Mateusz Klich.

Attacking Midfielders: Cristian Dajome, Gabriel Pirani, Jared Stroud.

Forward: Christian Benteke.

Referees

REF: Guido Gonzales Jr.
AR1: Adam Garner.
AR2: Justin Howard.
4TH: Joshua Encarnacion.
VAR: David Barrie.
AVAR: Joshua Patlak.


How to Watch

Match Time: 7:30 p.m.

Venue: Audi Field — Washington, D.C.

TV/Streaming: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+.

Radio: FM 96.9 The Game (English), Mega 97.1 FM (Spanish).

Twitter: For rapid reaction and live updates, follow along at @TheManeLand, as well as Orlando City’s official Twitter feed (@OrlandoCitySC).


Enjoy the match. Go City!

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Orlando City

Flashback Friday: April 13, 2018 — Orlando City vs. Philadelphia Union

Hop in the time machine as we reminisce about a classic Orlando City game from six years ago.

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Carlos Romero, The Mane Land

During the two-week break we’ve had since Orlando City’s last competitive match, I’ve had some time to go back and revisit some of the matches that the team has played in the past. What better thing to do when considering the heavy emphasis that the club has placed on its 10th season as a member of Major League Soccer?

So, before the Lions take on D.C. United tomorrow, let’s hop in the time machine and reminisce about a game that OCSC played six years ago — almost to the day.

The date was Saturday, April 13, 2018, and the Lions found themselves on the road in Philadelphia. The Jason Kreis-coached team had won two games on the bounce and entered the contest with a record of 2-2-1 (7 points), while the Union sat at 1-1-2 (5 points). The Orlando team sheet on the day looked wildly different from what we’re used to seeing these days, as no one on that gameday roster is still with the club. Kreis deployed his team in a 4-2-3-1, which will be plenty familiar to Orlando fans by now, but that was where the similarities ended.

Philadelphia’s XI had a few familiar faces however, with Andre Blake in goal, Jack Elliot at center back, Matt Real at left back, and Alejandro Bedoya in midfield.

The Union began the game strong, with Keegan Rosenberry getting off a shot from long distance, and David Accam beating RJ Allen down the right and delivering a dangerous cross that fortunately didn’t have any teammates attacking it. Despite the slow start, Orlando almost opened the scoring just inside 10 minutes when Amro Tarek had a shot cleared off the line after being picked out by Yoshi Yotun from a corner.

Philadelphia continued to be dangerous, and Orlando’s task got more difficult when Allen went down with a hamstring issue in the 21st minute. The Lions were already missing Jonathan Spector through concussion and Scott Sutter with the dreaded lower body injury, so Cristian Higuita entered the fray while Will Johnson moved to right back.

The Lions’ resilience paid dividends a few minutes before halftime. Dom Dwyer timed a perfect run to stay level with Real, and Sacha Kljestan delivered him the ball by way of an outstanding lifted pass. Dwyer showed outstanding invention to settle the pass using his back, and then turned to curl the ball beyond Blake for the game’s first goal and the 99th of his career.

The goal seemed to unlock something in the good guys, as the first-half-fun didn’t end there. The second goal of the night had a bit of fortune to it, as Chris Mueller collected the ball in midfield and drove toward the box. A heavy touch meant he lost the ball, but Philadelphia couldn’t clear its lines and the ball came right back to him off the foot of Elliot. From there, it was a simple matter of taking a touch to settle himself and then firing low and hard past Blake and into the far corner.

The Lions took that 2-0 lead into halftime, but after the restart they once again found the Union streaming forward toward their goal. Bendik made his second big save of the night in the 53rd minute from a Fafa Picault shot, and it wasn’t the last time he was called on, as he denied Bedoya in the 62nd minute.

Justin Meram provided some moments of danger as the half wore on, and probably should have had an assist as the clock struck 90 minutes, but Dwyer fired his shot off target. Bendik had to make one big final save in the 94th minute to stop Borek Dockal’s effort, and when the whistle blew for full time the Lions’ had escaped with a 2-0 win.

The home side finished with 55% of the ball to Orlando’s 45%, and outshot OCSC by a whopping 20-8, but a lack of clinical finishing proved to be the Union’s undoing (sound familiar?).

That win meant the good guys had won three on the bounce, and a strong start to the season continued as that streak ultimately stretched all the way to six victories in a row. Sadly, the good vibes didn’t last. The last league win of that six-game streak came on May 6 in a 3-1 home victory over Real Salt Lake, and then the bottom fell out. The Lions lost nine straight league games, Kreis lost his job after the sixth of those losses, and Orlando only won two more league games for the remainder of the season.


Ultimately, the 2018 season proved to be the most difficult that the club has endured since joining MLS. OCSC’s total of 28 points is the lowest that the team has ever finished with in a season, and only a truly woeful San Jose side prevented the Lions from claiming the Wooden Spoon. Still, the win over Philadelphia — and the win streak that it was part of — were bright spots early in the year, and it’s always fun to look back on those. With a little luck, the Lions will get a similar result on the road against D.C. United tomorrow. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 4/12/24

Orlando Pride play in Utah tonight, Orlando City B earns a point, Europa League quarterfinals begin, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City B

Happy Friday! I hope this week has gone smoothly for you as we gear up for even more Orlando soccer tonight and tomorrow. It should be a nice next few days, even if I’m working for most of it. I don’t have many plans outside of work beyond bonding with my cat and trying a new stuffed bread recipe. Let’s dive into today’s links from around the soccer world!

Orlando Pride Play the Utah Royals Tonight

The Orlando Pride are on the road tonight for a showdown with the Utah Royals at 9:30 p.m., and you can catch the game on NWSL+ or through Bally Sports if you’re local. Although the Royals are an expansion team this year, the Pride last squared off against the previous Royals back in 2019, with Orlando losing all three games to Utah that season. This season, the Pride are riding a three-game unbeaten streak. However, they are also still on the hunt for their first win after three consecutive draws. While the offense awaits the arrival of Zambian striker Barbra Banda, the Pride have managed to score off of a set piece in each of their three games so far. While a draw on the road wouldn’t be awful by any means, hopefully the Pride can get a solid tally in the win column tonight.

Orlando City B Draws Philadelphia Union II

OCB went on the road to take on Philadelphia Union II and earned a single point after a 1-1 draw and penalty shootout. The two teams traded goals in the first half, but the Young Lions were on the back foot for most of the second half. While Orlando’s offense sputtered, the defense survived chance after chance from Philadelphia to send the game to a shootout. Orlando lost the lengthy shootout, 7-6, claiming just one point, but at least the Young Lions didn’t leave Pennsylvania empty handed. Hopefully OCB can return to its winning ways when it faces off with Crown Legacy FC on April 19.

New York City FC Stadium Plans Finally Approved

Plans to build a soccer-specific stadium in Queens for new grounds for New York City FC were approved by New York City officials. It will be a $780 million stadium expected to open in 2027 and serves as the centerpiece of a redevelopment project in the neighborhood. The 25,000-seat stadium will be right next to Citi Field, which has been one of the many home venues for NYCFC over the years since joining as an expansion side alongside Orlando City in 2015. It’s a bit wild that this stadium is set to open 10 years after Orlando christened its own soccer-specific stadium back in 2017. At least the Lions won’t have to play road games at baseball stadiums for much longer.

Europa League Quarterfinals Kick Off

The Europa League quarterfinals are underway, with the remaining eight teams squaring off in the first legs of their matchups. In England, Atalanta leaned on a brace from Gianluca Scamacca and stellar defense to win 3-0 against Liverpool. Bayer Leverkusen’s unbeaten streak stretched to 42 games after it beat West Ham United 2-0, thanks to a pair of late goals. The first match between Italian clubs AC Milan and Roma went to the visitors, as Roma scored early on and held on for a 1-0 win at San Siro. The only quarterfinal that wasn’t a shutout took place in Portugal, with Benfica beating Marseille, 2-1. The second legs will all take place at the same time next week, which should make for an exciting Thursday afternoon of soccer.

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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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