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

How did your favorite Lions perform in Orlando City’s 2-0 win over Austin FC?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City claimed its first win of the 2024 MLS season, defeating Austin FC 2-0. It was undoubtedly the best performance of the young season by the team and an essential result after the worst start to a season in club history.

Let’s take a look at the individual performances in this much-needed win.

Starters

GK, Mason Stajduhar, 6 — Stajduhar got the start with usual starter Pedro Gallese on international duty and had little to do in this game. Austin only put one shot on target and it was right to Mason, requiring little effort to stop it. He completed 81.8% of his 11 passes and three of his five long balls while recording his third career clean sheet.

D, Rafael Santos, 6 — This was arguably Santos’ best game of the season, recording a team-high 70 touches. He completed 77.8% of his 45 passes and one of his four long balls, while his lone cross was incomplete. He attempted three shots, putting one on target. However, he was most effective on the defensive end with a team-high four interceptions, 10 recoveries, and two clearances. The left back was solid in the back and contributed to the clean sheet.

D, Robin Jansson, 6.5 — It was another strong performance by the Orlando City captain, who touched the ball 48 times on the night. The center back completed 87.5% of his 40 passes, including two of his six long balls. He intercepted two Austin passes and recorded a team-high four clearances.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 6 — Schlegel got the start in this game with David Brekalo on international duty with Slovenia. The center back has had some tough outings this year, but was solid alongside Jansson. He completed an impressive 88.4% of his 43 passes, including four of his seven long balls. The Argentinian wasn’t as active as Jansson defensively, but recorded a tackle and two clearances. He also had a shot that was off target.

D, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 6.5 — Thorhallsson had a quality game, both in the attack and defense. His 66 touches were second most on the team and he completed 75.6% of his 45 passes. While he only completed one of his four crosses and one of his five long balls, he had a team-high six key passes, including his perfect cross for Jack Lynn, resulting in the opening goal. His two shots were wildly off target, but he was strong defensively with an interception, three clearances, and a team-high four tackles. He was even involved in the second goal, setting up Nico Lodeiro for the shot that resulted in a handball.

MF, Ivan Angulo, 6 — Angulo had possibly his best game of the season against Austin. He made the most of his 53 touches, completing 91.4% of his 35 passes, including three key passes. His one shot hit the frame and he had one successful dribble. He also helped out defensively, recording a tackle and a clearance.

MF, Nico Lodeiro, 7 (MotM) — Lodeiro was very involved in this game, recording a team-high 70 touches. He completed 87% of his team-high 54 passes, including a key pass and three of his six long balls. He put two of his six shots on target, including a glorious free kick goal, which was created by his shot that went off the arm of a defender. He was also involved in the buildup on the first goal, playing a 1-2 with Thorhallson before the fullback’s cross in to Lynn. He also had two tackles, contributing to the clean sheet. Overall, Lodeiro had an excellent performance and earns my Man of the Match.

MF, Kyle Smith, 6 — For the second consecutive game, Smith lined up just in front of the back line in a role usually occupied by Cesar Araujo. The long-time Orlando City defender touched the ball 47 times and completed 89.2% of his 37 passes, including a key pass and a long ball. However, his biggest impact was on defense, where he recorded three tackles, an interception, and a clearance.

MF, Martin Ojeda, 6.5 — While I gave my Man of the Match to Lodeiro, it also could’ve gone to Ojeda. The 25-year-old touched the ball 57 times and completed 97.4% of his 39 passes, including two key passes, one of seven crosses, and all eight of his long balls. Three of his five shots hit the target, though he wasn’t able to find the back of the net. He also added a tackle and came off in the 88th minute for Mikey Halliday.

F, Luis Muriel, 6 — Muriel played just behind Lynn and in front of the attacking midfield, recording 51 touches on the night. He completed 76.7% of his 30 passes, which included two key passes, and all four of his long balls. He also had three successful dribbles, but both of his shots were off target. While he didn’t help in the scoring, he caused problems for the Austin defense before being replaced in added time by Jeorgio Kocevski.

F, Jack Lynn, 6 — The absence of Duncan McGuire saw Lynn get his first start for the first team. Playing the target striker position, he had 21 touches and completed 76.9% of his 13 passes. However, his biggest contribution was his header in the 42nd minute for the opening goal. It was put on a platter by Thorhallsson, but he still handled it well, heading it down and off Brad Stuver. He had one other off-target shot before coming off in the 74th minute for Felipe.

Substitutes

MF, Felipe (74’), 6 — The defensive midfielder came on for Lynn in a defensive move as the Lions looked to see out the three points. He didn’t do much in the attack, only touching the ball seven times and completing all four of his passes. But he recorded a tackle and an interception in his 16 minutes on the field.

D, Mikey Halliday (88’), N/A — Halliday entered the game for Ojeda in the dying minutes in an attempt to kill some time to see the game out. He only had one touch and one clearance, without attempting any passes.

MF, Jeorgio Kocevski (90+4’), N/A — Kocevski came on for Muriel four minutes into added time, touching the ball once and completing one pass without recording any other stats.

F, Shak Mohammed (90+4’), N/A — Mohammed came on with Kocevski, replacing Lodeiro. He had two touches, but didn’t see any other action in his short time on the field.


That’s how I saw Orlando City’s huge 2-0 win over Austin FC. Let us know what you thought of the performance and vote on your Man of the Match below.

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew: Three Keys to Victory

What does Orlando City need to do to earn all three points at home against the Crew?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Orlando City earned seven points during a three-match stretch over eight days. Now the Lions will look to keep things rolling against the Columbus Crew this Saturday night at Inter&Co Stadium. The Crew are currently sitting in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 21 points compared to Orlando City in 10th with 16 points.

What do the Lions need to do to get a victory at home against the Crew?

Switch Focus

Orlando City has lucked out because Columbus striker Cucho Hernández will not play, as he is nursing a back injury. Hernández has often been a thorn in Orlando’s side when the clubs play, so his absence is definitely good news. However, that doesn’t mean that the defense can relax. The Crew still have a potent attack with players like Diego Rossi, Jacen Russell-Rowe, Aidan Morris, and others. Columbus has scored 19 goals so far this season, which is four more than Orlando’s 15. I think it is likely that Oscar Pareja will stick with the 3-5-2 formation, meaning the pressure will be on the back three of David Brekalo, Wilder Cartagena, and Rodrigo Schlegel.

Goals Needed

Orlando City left it late against San Jose before Jack Lynn scored in the 89th minute to give the Lions a victory. That’s not to say there weren’t wasted chances — because there were — but it was enough that night. It likely won’t be enough against Columbus. We don’t know the status of Duncan McGuire’s injury as of this writing, but I would be surprised to see him in the lineup, let alone getting the start. That means we will likely see Jack Lynn alongside Luis Muriel up top. Lynn is no McGuire, but he is able to get into good spaces in the box and has a nose for goal. Another goal from him or Muriel could make a big difference.

Scheduling Factors

I’m not saying that Wilfried Nancy will be looking ahead to the Concacaf Champions Cup final against Pachuca the following week, but a trophy is a trophy, and it could impact who he plays and for how long. He might be keeping Hernández out for precautionary reasons to allow him time to be ready for the final. It’s possible that he risks points against Orlando City in pursuit of hardware. Pareja doesn’t have it any easier with Orlando City playing a midweek match at the Chicago Fire next Wednesday before heading to New Jersey for a match against the New York Red Bulls on Saturday, June 1. May has been brutal for the Lions, and though the team has made the most of it so far, it doesn’t get any easier. How much will rotation affect Orlando’s ability to get all three points?


That is what I will be looking for Saturday night. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/23/24

Orlando Pride prepare for the Portland Thorns, Pride Brazilian trio called up, Atalanta wins Europa League, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando Pride

How’s it going, Mane Landers? I hope this Thursday finds you well as we all get ready for a busy next few days of Orlando soccer to enjoy. It’s been a fairly busy couple of days for me, and I plan on knocking out a few errands before enjoying the upcoming matches. Until then, let’s enjoy today’s links!

Pride Prepare to Host the Portland Thorns

The Orlando Pride have a huge home game against the Portland Thorns tomorrow night. It will be a clash of win streaks, as the Pride have won their past seven games and the Thorns have won their last six. Pride Head Coach Seb Hines is well aware that Portland is a formidable foe with talented players such as Sophia Smith, Becky Sauerbrunn, and Sam Coffey. He spoke on how tomorrow will be a challenge, as well as how playing at home will give the Pride a boost during the game.

Pride Trio Called Up by Brazil

The Pride’s Marta, Rafaelle, and Adriana were all called up for Brazil’s pair of friendlies against Jamaica in Brazil on June 1 and June 4.

These matches will help Brazil prepare for a tough group in the Olympics against Spain, Japan, and Nigeria. Angelina, who featured for Brazil during the SheBelieves Cup, was not called up due to an injury sustained while with the Pride. Although these games will take place during an international break, the Pride do have a road game against the San Diego Wave on June 7, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Hines gives them some rest for that match.

Assessing Emma Hayes’ Time With Chelsea

It felt like forever ago that it was announced Chelsea’s Emma Hayes would leave the club to replace Vlatko Andonovski and coach the USWNT. A great article by ESPN broke down what USWNT fans can learn from her time with Chelsea, including how she’s dealt with the adversity she’s faced both on and off the field. Her impending exit put a spotlight on Chelsea’s season, and she still managed to secure the league title despite the pressure. Chelsea also announced that five members of the coaching staff will leave the club to join Hayes at the USWNT. It’s a new era for the USWNT, and Hayes brings plenty of experience and leadership to the position.

Atalanta Crushes Leverkusen to Win Europa League

Italian club Atalanta lifted the Europa League trophy after a 3-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen in Dublin. The day belonged to Nigerian winger Ademola Lookman, who scored a hat trick that included this stunner that doubled Atalanta’s lead in the first half.

It’s Atalanta’s second trophy in club history, and first in 61 years. It’s also the first trophy for manager Gian Piero Gasperini after coaching in Italy for 30 years. This result snapped Leverkusen’s remarkable unbeaten streak at 51 games, and ended the club’s bid at a treble. Bayer Leverkusen will aim to bounce back Saturday when it plays FC Kaiserslautern in the German Cup final.

Free Kicks

  • Orlando City President of Business Operations Jarrod Dillon has issued a challenge to Orlando City fans for the upcoming trio of Orlando soccer home games, so it may be worth your while to get tickets for the Lions, Pride, and OCB this weekend.
  • Pride forward Amanda Allen placed 16th in ESPN‘s rankings of the 17 teenagers currently playing in the National Women’s Soccer League (the author deemed it unfair to assess Milly Clegg without seeing her on the field more). Allen mostly just hasn’t had much playing time, but that could change over the summer.
  • Former Pride player Camille Ashton (known as Cami Levin when she played in the Pride midfield in 2016 and 2017) has resigned as the general manager of the Kansas City Current.

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

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/22/24

Lions and Pride reflect on victories, Christian Pulisic’s Serie A recognition, the USWNT roster drops, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. I know that a lot of you are Orlando Pride supporters as well as Orlando City supporters, but for those of you who aren’t, you are really missing out. Superstar players, undefeated, top of the table, and this team hasn’t even played up to its potential yet. Seriously, you need to get out to a match if you can. For now, let’s get to the links.

Talking About Orlando City

You can tell Oscar Pareja loves his players. He is the type of coach that nearly always has only good things to say regardless of the result. Of course, when the club gets a win on the road in the third match in eight days, thanks to the fourth striker on the depth chart. Jack Lynn takes a professional approach to being the backup and prepares to play in every match. It’s also nice when he scores a match-winning goal.

So how did the MLSsoccer.com power rankings treat the Lions for the road victory? Orlando City moved up three spots to 19, thanks to earning seven points in the last three matches. That’s better than the ESPN rankings we shared yesterday. ESPN also had the Lions at 19 but dropped them a spot in doing so.

Seb and Sams Speak

The Orlando Pride have a chance this Friday to set an NWSL win streak record in the match against the Portland Thorns, but first Seb Hines, Rafaelle, and Emily Sams reflected on the win against the Seattle Reign. Hines was rightly happy with the result but said he still feels his team has room to improve. I agree with him, despite the Pride being on top of the table and undefeated.

Rafaelle felt the victory showed the team how much mental fortitude the Pride have to be able to secure the road win. She also thinks that being at home with a chance to break the win streak record will make the team work that much harder. Sams reflected on her first NWSL goal but said she just wants to focus on getting three points each match.

Pulisic and Wright Shine

Christian Pulisic’s year keeps getting better. He had such a a good season for AC Milan that he has been named a finalist for Serie A Midfielder of the Year. The other finalists are Inter Milan’s Hakan Calhanoglu and Atalanta’s Teun Koopmeiners. Pulisic has 19 goal contributions in 35 appearances for AC Milan.

The USMNT’s pre-Copa America roster dropped Monday, and it looks like Haji Wright will potentially see some action at winger for Gregg Berhalter. The move provides some needed depth at the position and may give Wright more playing time. Of course, Wright and Pulisic aren’t the only players of interest. You can check out a breakdown of the players called up here.

Hayes’ First USWNT Roster Announced

The Olympics are rapidly approaching and new USWNT Head Coach Emma Hayes has announced the 23-player roster for the final two matches against South Korea before the final Olympic roster is named. There are a mix of veteran and younger players in the group. Notably, there are 19 players who won the SheBelieves Cup back in April. It also sees the return of Rose Lavelle, who missed the SheBelieves Cup due to injury. While not altogether surprising, it is still disappointing on one level for Pride fans that Emily Sams didn’t get a call-up.

Free Kicks

  • Congratulations to Orlando Pride midfielder Ally Lemos on her call-up to the USWNT U-20s for the matches against the Korea Republic.
  • Philadelphia Union keeper Andre Blake has reportedly signed a new longterm contract with the club.
  • The USMNT U-15 squad defeated Japan to take first place in the Vlatko Markovic Tournament. Congratulations to the young Yanks.
  • Bayer Leverkusen will play in two cup finals in four days, starting with today’s Europa League championship against Atalanta. The second final is for the German Cup this Saturday against Kaiserslautern.
  • Mauricio Pochettino and Chelsea have parted ways after only one season. Potchettino’s departure was mutually agreed upon. The coaching carousel continues.
  • Emanuel Reynoso from Minnesota United is reportedly headed to Liga MX side Club Tijuana.

That will do it for today. Check back as we get you ready for the matches this weekend. Vamos Orlando!

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