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Report: Orlando City to Sign Attacking Midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro

Orlando City is reportedly finalizing a deal to acquire free agent midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

The Athletic‘s Tom Bogert is reporting that Orlando City is in the process of finalizing a deal to sign free agent midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro. The 34-year-old Uruguayan ended an eight-year stint with the Seattle Sounders after the 2023 season. The report says Lodeiro won’t be a Designated Player, leaving one of those spots open for Orlando City (more on that below).

In his eight years in Seattle, Lodeiro made 231 appearances, tallying 58 goals and 62 assists. He played in 33 of the team’s 34 league games last year, scoring one goal and recording 10 assists, but falling out of the starting lineup before the postseason. However, he had 12 goals and nine assists in 34 games between MLS and the Concacaf Champions League in 2022. Internationally, Lodeiro earned 60 caps with Uruguay between 2009 and 2019.

As the focal point of the Sounders attack, Lodeiro won MLS Cups in 2016 and 2019, as well as the Concacaf Champions League — now Concacaf Champions Cup — in 2022.

The number 10 was a Designated Player for the Sounders, but sources told The Athletic the signing is under the maximum Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) amount, so he won’t require a DP spot. Facundo Torres is now a senior DP, giving the Lions two along with Martin Ojeda. For this reason, the club’s third DP must be a Young Designated Player (under 23 years old) or someone under the max TAM threshold. However, depending on Ojeda’s transfer fee, which has never been officially announced by the club but has been reported in a range anywhere from $4 million to $7 million, the club might potentially be able to buy down Ojeda, opening a spot for another senior DP. There are other permutations among the convoluted MLS rules that could free up a DP slot, including removing a U22 Initiative player from one of those three slots, but those are largely dependent upon the transfer fees as well (U22 players must occupy those slots for a minimum of two years and that number increases to three depending on salary plus transfer fee).

Lodeiro was a well-traveled player before arriving in Seattle, making stops at Nacional in Uruguay, Ajax in the Netherlands, Botofogo in Brazil, and Boca Juniors in Argentina. He took part in both the 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cups for Uruguay. His only appearance in the 2010 group stage was in the opener, in which he came off the bench and was sent off, but he played in both knockout games. He also took part in three of Uruguay’s four games in the 2014 tournament.

What It Means for Orlando City

The departures of club captain Mauricio Pereyra and Junior Urso following the 2023 season meant that Orlando City was in the market for a central attacking midfielder. Despite his age, Lodeiro is likely being brought in to fill that role. While he’s lost a step since joining the league, Pereyra had as well and played that position for the Lions recently. The difference between the two Uruguayans is that Lodeiro is a more accomplished finisher in front of goal and looks for his shot more often. In Seattle, he was a perfect example of a modern MLS 10.

The fact that he’s not signing as a DP is also a positive for Orlando City. The club sent striker Ercan Kara, who occupied one of those spots since signing prior to the 2022 season, to Turkey. That spot remains open for the Lions to bring in someone, though there currently are restrictions on who they can bring in. While the club might be able to buy down Ojeda to use it on a senior DP, Orlando City has had success with younger players, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if they use it on a Young Designated Player — potentially a younger central attacking midfielder who could study under Lodeiro and provide coverage when fixture congestion is thick.

Additionally, Lodeiro’s time in the United States has allowed him to earn a green card, so he won’t occupy an international spot for the Lions. This benefit reduces the risk for a player filling a position of need and one who has had great success in MLS over a long period of time.

At 34, Lodeiro won’t be the player that led Seattle to three major trophies. However, he was playing on fieldturf during his home games at Lumen Field and will now have natural grass as his home surface. That could impact his legs the upcoming season, making him more durable.

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Lion Links: 6/21/24

Facundo Torres earns praise, Orlando Pride play the Utah Royals tonight, FC Cincinnati linked with Weston McKennie, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Happy Friday! This weekend is what soccer fans dream of, with NWSL, MLS, Copa America, and Euro 2024 matches to enjoy. The Orlando Pride are in action tonight, Orlando City plays Saturday, and the U.S. begins its Copa America campaign on Sunday. But first, let’s all wish a happy birthday to Orlando Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter!

Facundo Torres Makes MLS Team of the Matchday Bench

Orlando forward Facundo Torres earned a spot on the bench of the MLS Team of the Matchday after providing a goal and an assist in Orlando’s 2-2 draw against Charlotte FC. Both contributions were crucial to Orlando getting a point on the road. It was only Torres’ third goal of the season, so hopefully this gets him going. If the Lions are to claw their way up the Eastern Conference table, they’ll need more performances like this from their talisman.

Orlando Pride Host the Utah Royals Tonight

The Orlando Pride will aim to get back in the win column tonight when they take on the Utah Royals at home. The last time these two teams squared off was on April 12, with Orlando winning 1-0 in the first of eight straight victories for the Pride. Another match with the Royals could be just what the doctor ordered for an Orlando side that’s been held to draws in its past two matches. While Utah is having a difficult season and sits last in the league standings, it did get its first road win on Sunday against Bay FC.

FC Cincinnati Reportedly Wants Weston McKennie

American midfielder Weston McKennie could be coming to the U.S., as FC Cincinnati has reportedly made an offer to sign him from Juventus. Cincinnati is willing to spend up to $15 million to bring McKennie on as a Designated Player. The 25-year-old has one year left on his contract with Juventus, but he’s likely leaving the Italian club this summer if reports are to be believed. McKennie was part of FC Dallas’ academy, but never actually played in an MLS game before heading to Europe.

Spain Wins to Advance in Euro 2024

Spain booked its spot in the knockout stage of Euro 2024 after beating Italy 1-0 in a match that didn’t quite live up to its billing. It does set up for an intriguing matchup between Italy and Croatia on Monday, though. England and Denmark traded first-half goals but neither team could find a winner in a 1-1 draw. In the other Group C match, Orlando City defender David Brekalo came on as a late substitute in Slovenia’s 1-1 draw against Serbia.

As for today’s slate of games, Slovakia will face off against Ukraine, Poland plays Austria, and France takes on the Netherlands. We’ll see if Kylian Mbappe will play after breaking his nose in France’s opening match.

Latest FIFA Rankings Unveiled

Despite losing 5-1 to Colombia in a friendly, the U.S. didn’t drop enough points to be unseated from 11th in the latest FIFA rankings. The U.S. remains the highest-ranked Concacaf nation, and Mexico dropped to 15th after losing to both Uruguay and Brazil in friendlies. Argentina is still at the top of the rankings, while Brazil leapfrogged England for fourth place. The rankings usually don’t matter all too much, but they are used to determine pots for the World Cup. With Euro 2024 and Copa America going on, things could shake up a bit for some of the world’s best teams.

Free Kicks

  • Peter Musa was named MLS Player of the Matchday for his hat trick in FC Dallas’ 5-3 win against Minnesota United. It was the Croatian striker’s first hat trick since he joined Dallas this past off-season, and he now has eight goals this season.
  • Now with Cruz Azul, former Atlanta United forward Georgios Giakoumakis took some parting shots at MLS in regards to how losses are OK compared to Liga MX. I find it a pretty oblivious thing to say considering Atlanta fired its head coach a day after losing to Charlotte FC earlier this month.
  • Steve Cooper, who was sacked by Nottingham Forest six months ago, was hired as Leicester City’s new manager.
  • Of the 47 goals scored so far in Euro 2024, five have been own goals and only Germany’s Jamal Musiala has scored more than once. None of the goals have been scored from the penalty spot as well.
  • Burnley is reportedly in talks with Ruud van Nistelrooy to be the club’s next manager after Vincent Kompany’s departure.

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

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

How did your favorite Lions perform in a 2-2 road draw at Charlotte?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

On the road and up a man for much the midweek match, Orlando City was forced to settle for a 2-2 draw. Looking to build off a good effort that unfortunately was coupled with a bad result the last time out, the Lions headed north to challenge one of the best defensive squads in Major League Soccer.

Let’s take a look at how the players performed individually in the draw.

Starters

GK, Mason Stajduhar, 6 — Making his second consecutive start while Pedro Gallese is away representing Peru, the Homegrown goalkeeper put in a mostly solid effort on the night. The first goal he allowed hardly could blamed on Stajduhar, as a save likely required super human reflexes, as a badly missed clearance from the combination of Felipe and Ivan Angulo led to a wide-open opportunity. He was slow to make a decision to come off his line on the second goal, arrived too late and was chipped easily for a late go-ahead goal. He also had some strange tendencies to wander outside his box on plays the defense had covered and unnecessarily headed what was not a back pass out for a Charlotte throw. It’s best not to take chances when unsure, but that play was a toe poke to knock it away from an attacker, not a pass. Stajduhar made three saves on the night, with his biggest coming on a point-blank chance for Liel Abada on a set piece in the second half. He completed all of his nine passes, which included three long balls, and was credited with a clearance.

D, Rafael Santos, 4.5 — Santos had 101 touches in this game, good for third on the team. He completed 95.3% of his 85 passes, which is good, but his crossing was dreadful to watch, as the Brazilian completed only one of nine, overhitting several of them badly and sending a couple completely out of play. His only shot attempt came nowhere close to the goal frame. One of his passes was a key pass. Defensively, Santos recorded one tackle and committed one foul. He should have prevented Charlotte’s second goal, recklessly taking a wild swing at taking the ball from Patrick Agyemang and falling down to leave Robin Jansson to deal with two attackers. Santos exited the match in the 91st minute for fellow defensemen, Kyle Smith.

D, Robin Jansson, 5 — Jansson was unspectacular on the evening as was a good majority of the defense on the night. The Swedish center back recorded 68 touches and completed 89.8% of his 59 passes, including three of his six long balls. Defensively, he added one interception, two clearances, and one blocked shot while committing one foul. He played a role in both Charlotte goals, getting roasted down the channel to allow Abada’s cross that ended in the opening goal. On the second goal, he was in position to stop Agyemang, but allowed the striker to get past. He almost atoned for his mistakes late, when his shot from point-blank range was saved. It was his only shot attempt of the match and it required a big save from Kristijan Kahlina.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 6 — Schlegel was the more sound of the two center backs on the night when he was in position. He was caught up the field a few times, including on the second Charlotte goal. With Cesar Araujo already pushed up, Schlegel was easily beaten by a chipped ball over the top that gave the hosts numbers in transition. The Argentine recorded 62 touches on the night, completing an impressive 97.9% of his 47 passes, including two of his three long balls. Defensively, he contributed a team-high five tackles and one clearance while committing one foul. Offensively, Schlegel added two shots, with one on target that nearly produced a game winner. His shot was saved by Kahlina, who was able to deflect it off the left post.

D, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 5.5 — Thorhallsson started in his usual right back position, but recorded only 25 touches, as the Lions played almost exclusively up the left side. He completed 86.7% of his 15 passes and was unsuccessful on both his lone crossing attempt and his one long ball. Defensively, he added one clearance, two interceptions, and one tackle. Offensively, he recorded one shot, which was not on target. Normally one of the most involved players throughout a match, Thorhallsson’s presence was lacking in this one and he was ultimately sacrificed for a more offensive minded player in Martin Ojeda after halftime.

MF, Facundo Torres, 7.5 (MotM) — Torres got back on the scoresheet in a big way against Charlotte while being involved in all aspects of the match, recording 107 touches. He put all four of his shot attempts on target, completed 96.3% of his 81 passes, including four key passes. If there was one blemish on his effort it was that only two of his 10 crosses were accurate, but he did complete his lone long ball attempt. His pass into the box off of a well-weighted header became an assist on Orlando’s first goal, as Duncan McGuire was able to flick it home. Later in the second half, again trailing by a goal, Torres collected a corner cross from Lodeiro near the back post, took one touch, and calmly picked out the opposite corner to tie the game. This is the type of outing that Torres, the coaching staff, and fans have been waiting to see and hopefully one he can build on over the summer.

MF, Felipe, 5.5 — Felipe slotted into the starting 11, replacing Cesar Araujo. He recorded 24 touches and completed all of his 21 passes, including one long ball. Defensively, he recorded one clearance. His sliding clearance attempt failed to deal with Abada’s cross on the first goal, and whether he mishit it or was distracted by Angulo’s simultaneous arrival, only he can say, but it dropped his grade a bit. Offensively, Felipe added one shot that was off target. The Brazilian was injured after winning the ball and being tackled late and from behind by Scott Arfield, leading to the latter being sent off. Felipe was in visible discomfort after receiving treatment from the training staff, couldn’t continue, and was subbed off for Araujo in the 40th minute.

MF, Nico Lodeiro, 7 — Lodeiro was the most active player in this game and for the second straight match, he recorded a team-high in touches, with 147. He completed 88.6% of his team-high 131 passes, including an incredible 10 key passes. Lodeiro also completed five of his 11 crosses, three of his six long balls, and one of his two through balls, putting on a passing clinic. The midfielder took one off-target shot and logged a successful dribble. Lodeiro logged an assist with his well-placed corner kick in the 81st minute that found Facundo Torres for the equalizer. He could have had a late shot at a winner in the 86th minute but opted to try to pick out Jack Lynn instead. Lodeiro did not log a statistic defensively as he was too busy making the offense run, which was contributed to Orlando’s problems. With only one true defensive midfielder on the pitch, Lodeiro was often up the field when Charlotte broke dangerously in transition.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 5.5 — The Orlando attack is at its best when Angulo is creating chaos with speed and overlapping runs, yet against Charlotte, there seemed to be less opportunity for the speedy Colombian to stretch his legs. The midfielder had 65 touches. He completed 92% of his 50 passes, including one of his two crosses, a successful long ball and added two key passes. He continues to struggle with decisions and turnovers in the final third, however, and clearly lacks confidence when presented with opportunities to shoot, as he failed to record a shot in the match. Defensively, he contributed two clearances, but he and Felipe both failed to deal with a loose ball on the first goal while not under any pressure from Charlotte in the penalty area. He was replaced by Alex Freeman in the 91st minute.

F, Luis Muriel, 6 — Muriel recorded 54 touches in his active role playing beneath McGuire. He completed 92.9% of his 42 passes, including three key passes. He picked up a secondary assist on Orlando’s first goal when he did well to pick out Torres on the left with a perfect ball. Muriel failed to connect on his one cross but was successful on his only attempted through ball. He was only able to get one of his four shot attempts on target. He was only dispossessed once, however, which is an improvement over previous outings. Defensively, he contributed one tackle and one interception. He was substituted off in the 83rd minute for Lynn.

F, Duncan McGuire, 6 — McGuire slotted into his usual role as the target man up top, recording 31 touches. He completed 83.3% of his 18 passes, including both of his long ball attempts. He only put one of his four shots on frame, which is a low percentage by his usual standards. McGuire had a gorgeous opportunity early in the match to give the Lions an early lead but smashed a shot wide of the net. It was a chance on which he should have done better, and he had another such opportunity in the second half when he knocked a good cross well wide of the near post with an open Torres making a run behind him. His only shot on target came in the 63rd minute and found the back of the net for his first goal since May 11 to tie the game at one. Ultimately, the timing for McGuire and his runs could have been a tad bit tighter but it was a welcome sign to see Big Dunc find the goal. Defensively, McGuire added two clearances.

Substitutes

MF, Cesar Araujo (40’), 6 — Araujo entered the match in the first half due to Felipe’s injury, and the Uruguayan managed 63 touches. He completed 94.6% of his 55 passes and was accurate on two of his three long balls. He also added three tackles and blocked a shot.

MF, Martin Ojeda (46’), 5.5 — Ojeda came on in the 46th minute for Thorhallsson and was unable to make the immediate impact that he had previously against LAFC, but it allowed the Lions to change shape. The attacking midfielder had 34 touches and completed 95.5% of his 22 passes. Ojeda was only accurate on one of his six crosses but did complete both of his long balls. He recorded three shots, which all failed to find the target, including a header which he certainly should have done better with.

F, Jack Lynn (83’), N/A — Lynn came on with seven minutes to go for Muriel. Orlando was looking for a game-winning goal, but Lynn was unable to help. He was able to get into a few dangerous spots, but his best chance was his only shot attempt, which he sent wide after he was sent in behind the defense. Lynn gathered the ball and slowed for some reason, allowing the defense to recover on the play and preventing him from going more directly to goal. Lynn had three touches on the night and completed his only pass.

D, Kyle Smith (90’ + 1), N/A — Smith came on in stoppage time for Santos to try to help secure the draw. He logged nine touches and completed 88.9% of his nine passes. The Accountant failed to record a defensive stat in limited stoppage time minutes.

MF, Alexander Freeman (90’ + 1), N/A — The young fullback came on in the 91st minute, replacing Angulo. Freeman put his lone shot attempt on target, earned a corner, and ended the game with four touches.


That’s how I saw the individual performances in Orlando City’s draw against Charlotte FC. Let us know how you saw the game and don’t forget to vote on your Man of the Match below.

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Orlando City vs. Charlotte FC: Five Takeaways

Here’s what we learned from a 2-2 road draw against 10-man Charlotte FC.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City traveled to North Carolina looking to get back on the winning side of things. Unfortunately, despite being a man up for more than 52 minutes and scoring two goals, Orlando City was only able to secure a 2-2 draw for a point on the road. It was not the result we were hoping for, but at least Orlando City scored some goals. What follows are my five takeaways from the match against Charlotte FC.

Worst Clearance Ever

Charlotte doesn’t score a lot of goals, but even the hosts couldn’t miss the gift-wrapped chance that Felipe and Ivan Angulo combined to give Kerwin Vargas in the 11th minute of the match. As the defender ran back towards his own goal, the ball came across and he tried to kick it out. However, he and Angulo came together at the worst moment. Felipe didn’t get anything on his clearance and Angulo was in position to intervene but perhaps was trying harder to get out of the way than to intercede. As a result, neither made the play and the ball trickled to a wide-open Vargas to slot it into the back of the net. Mason Stajduhar had no chance at the ball.

Red Card Call

Orlando City got a lifeline in the 38th minute when Scott Arfield was given a red card following a video review of his foul on Felipe. It was definitely the correct call, I’m just not used to PRO referees making decisions that benefit Orlando City, especially on video review. You would think that would give the Lions the advantage, but Orlando City did not manage to get a shot on goal the rest of the half. Things did get better in the second half, but it still took a while for the Lions to even the score. Orlando City really needed to take advantage of being a man up to bring home all three points, but it was not to be.

Welcome Back, Duncan

It had been 39 days since Duncan McGuire scored a goal for Orlando City. The last time was on May 11 against the Philadelphia Union. Fortunately, the dry spell is over as the young striker scored in the 63rd minute of the match — after a pair of uncharacteristic misses — to even the score. Luis Muriel chipped the ball over to Facundo Torres on the left side of the box. Torres headed the ball into the center, where McGuire managed to get a foot on the ball, redirecting it into the back of the net. Goals change games, and Orlando City needed that one.

Frustrating Defense

Orlando City was a man up and had the lion’s share of the possession and still managed to go down a goal again in the second half. On one of Charlotte’s many odd-man transition attacks, Rodrigo Schlegel got caught upfield on a ball over the top. Robin Jansson looked to be in good position but allowed Patrick Agyemang to get inside of him. Rafael Santos arrived and had a clear opportunity to knock the ball away, but he muffed his chance and his problems got worse when he fell, leaving a two-on-one Charlotte break. Agyemang found Brandt Bronico on the right side while Jansson tried to recover. He nearly got there in time. Stajduhar was late getting off his line and couldn’t get there in time. Bronico chipped it in to give Charlotte the lead again. Frankly, there were too many such attacks, and that particular one was horribly defended.

Ban Short Corners

Orlando City took several short corners in the match and every single one of them amounted to absolutely nothing. Alternatively, two corners taken late in the match resulted in two shots on goal, including Orlando City’s second goal to even the score at 2-2. Nico Lodeiro put his corner kick from the left all the way over to an open Torres on the right side of the box. Torres settled it and put it in the back of the net. Minutes later, another corner fell for Schlegel in the box and he sent a shot on target that Kristijan Kahlina saved off his post to keep the game tied. I’m just saying that perhaps one way works better than the other.


That is how I saw things in the 2-2 draw against Charlotte FC. What stood out to you in the match? Let us know in the comments below and as always, vamos Orlando!

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