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

How did your favorite Lions perform in Orlando City’s 4-2 away loss at NYCFC?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

It was a tale of two halves in a stadium that is designed for games played in innings, and unfortunately Orlando City’s positive second-half performance was not enough to overcome a woeful first half as the Lions lost 4-2 in Yankee Stadium. You are forgiven if you thought you were watching pinball instead of soccer for much of the game, but the Lions lacked a pinball wizard to help them overcome the Pigeons as they fell to 2-7-2 all time on the road at New York City.

I have not turned in grades since my last year teaching high school back in 2008, but I have brought my red pen out of retirement so here we go. Let’s take a look at how Orlando City’s players rated individually in an Eastern Conference road defeat.

Starters

GK, Mason Stajduhar, 6 — A nasty injury to Mason’s leg overshadowed everything else in this match, and I think I can speak for everyone when I say that I hope it looked worse than it was, but I think we are going to hear that Mason will once again have a long road to recovery ahead of him. Prior to his injury, he had been playing well. He had two saves and I do not think he was at fault for the goal, as it was a perfectly struck ball in the corner, and very few goalkeepers, if any, could have made that save. Mason only played 17 minutes in this match before his injury forced him off the field, but he did enough during those minimal minutes to earn a positive grade, even if it may be partially for sentimental reasons.

D, Rafael Santos, 4.5 — The Brazilian defender did not have one of his better games, as his 67.6% pass percentage was the lowest among all 22 starters (including NYCFC players) and he was caught ball-watching on the second goal and was a step behind as Hannes Wolf blew right past him to finish and put NYCFC up 2-0. Santos did have three tackles and made a number of aggressive attacking runs up the left side of the field, but when he did receive the ball on those runs, his crosses did not lead to anything of substance. There was time and space for Santos to set up something from the left flank in the 53rd minute but he crossed the ball straight to the goalkeeper. The Brazilian was subbed off for Kyle Smith in the 64th minute.

D, Robin Jansson, 5.5 — Jansson’s performance will not be one he remembers fondly, in particular because NYCFC’s second goal happened right in front of him and deflected off his leg into the back of the net. It is possible that Javier Otero may have saved the shot had it not deflected off of Jansson, but I do not fault the Beefy Swede fully for this goal, as it was a series of poor plays that all combined to drop the Lions behind 2-0. Jansson did lead the team in clearances (3) and blocked shots (2), and he was third on the team with 47 completed passes at a 75.8% rate, but in the end it was not one of his better performances for Orlando City.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 6 — I was surprised when looking at the stats to see that Schlegel was second on the team in completed passes with 50, at an 83.3% completion rate, because for large stretches of the match I did not even think about him being out on the field. Both he and Dagur Dan Thorhallsson were caught ball-watching on NYCFC’s third goal, as they were late to react to the through ball played by Tayvon Gray, and by the time they got up to sprinting speed Agustín Ojeda had beaten them to the spot and put the ball in the net. The Argentinean finished three tackles, two interceptions and two clearances, and he made a couple of vital plays that kept the score from getting worse before halftime, with a headed clearance of a dangerously whipped in ball in the 43rd minute and a challenge that turned a would-be NYCFC scoring chance into an Orlando goal kick in first-half stoppage time. He also completed the rare game where did not get into a screaming match with any of his teammates or his opponents.

D, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 6.5 — This match was a little bit of a trick-or-treat match for the Icelandic defender, as he was a step slow in recovery for NYCFC’s third goal and his turnover led to the Pigeons’ fourth goal, but he also put the Lions on the board with a well-placed header, and his driving run into the box led to Orlando City’s second goal, even though he probably shot have shot the ball instead of trying to pass it. For the game, he completed 88.6% of his passes and led the team in aerials won (5) and tackles (4), but that one moment of ball watching that allowed Agustín Ojeda to get behind him and tap in a cross will likely be what he remembers most from this match.

MF, César Araujo, 5.5 — The last play of the game basically amounted to an undressing of Araujo as Mounsef Bakrar just dipped a shoulder and nutmegged the Uruguayan midfielder before tucking the clinching goal into the far corner of the net. It was not emblematic of Araujo’s play all game long, but it will likely be what he remembers most about this match. For the game, Araujo was his usual engaged self, leading the team in completed passes (54), fouls earned (3), fouls committed (3), and he intercepted two passes. The partnership with César and Nico Lodeiro was just not there in this game, and on a field as small as Yankee Stadium’s I think the Lions really missed the Araujo and Wilder Cartegana pairing in the central midfield of the team’s standard 4-2-3-1.

MF, Facundo Torres, 6 Unfortunately Torres’ scoring streak has now ended after two games, but he did make a good effort to extend it to three against NYCFC. The Uruguayan Designated Player led the team with four shots, putting two on target, including a dipping shot in the 77th minute that could have changed the complexion of the final minutes had he not hit it pretty much right down the middle. He also played a nice give and go with Duncan McGuire in the 61st minute but slipped on the turf as he tried to shoot and ended up hitting a weak shot right at the goalkeeper. In addition to leading the team in shots, Facundo also led the team with three key passes and was involved in the buildup to the first goal.

MF, Nico Lodeiro, 3.5 — This will be a game to forget for Lodeiro, from the first NYCFC goal, where it was his turnover that gave the ball away to start the counterattack, to the second and third goals, where on both occasions a critical pass in the buildup happened right in front of him while he stayed yards away without putting any pressure on the ball. Due to Stajduhar’s injury, Orlando City had to use a substitution window in the first half, leaving the team with only two for the second half, so Oscar Pareja chose to use halftime to take Lodeiro off for Jeorgio Kocevski. Despite only playing during the first half, Nico did complete the fourth-most passes on the team with 40, at an 87% completion percentage, but his passes did not really create any offense and the coaching staff likely felt that they had seen enough of the partnership of Araujo and Lodeiro in the middle.

MF, Iván Angulo, 4.5 — What a different game this could have been had Angulo put away that golden chance he had in the first minute of the match, but he shot it weakly right at the goalkeeper. Unfortunately for him, that was not his only mistake of the half, as in stoppage time Angulo failed to hold off Tayvon Gray on a ball that he should have seen out for a goal kick. Instead, he allowed Gray to fight through him and pass it back into the middle for NYCFC’s second goal. As always, Angulo tried to use his speed out on the flanks, but in Yankee Stadium there basically are no flanks due the fact that they are playing soccer on a baseball field, and so he did not impact the game as much as he usually does with runs up the left side. He completed 77.8% of his 27 passes, but it was not his day and Luis Muriel subbed on for him in a Colombian-for-Colombian swap in the 64th minute.

MF, Martín Ojeda, 6.5 (MotM)  I thought this match was one of the better ones I have ever seen from the Argentinean Designated Player, as from the beginning he was all over the field and aggressive on both offense and defense. I expect that he was especially excited to start after coming off of the bench in six of the last seven matches. He could have done more, especially with some of his crosses that looked remarkably similar to those of Orlando City’s legendary lefty Carlos Rivas in how they flew very high and very far away, but Ojeda did have two key passes, including a perfect cross to Dagur Dan for the first goal. He placed two of his three shots on target, including one he absolutely ripped right at Matt Freese in the second half. Jack Lynn came on for Ojeda in the dying minutes of the game as Orlando City was chasing a third goal, but if the Lions can get more performances like this from Ojeda then I expect we will see him in the starting lineup more often.

F, Duncan McGuire, 5.5 — Duncan waited until very late in the game, but he got on the scoresheet once again, smashing a ball into the net after it rebounded off of NYCFC goalkeeper Matt Freese in the 91st minute. I thought Duncan brought his usual high level work rate to this match but the crosses from his teammates just were not close enough for him to be able to do anything with them and his holdup play could have been better. NYCFC’s slim field likely contributed a lot to their ability to keep Duncan isolated off the ball as well, as the hosts could keep their two central defenders around him since they did not have to worry too much about the ball going wide, because there is no ‘wide’ in Yankee Stadium. Duncan played the full match but only got 25 touches of the ball in those 90 minutes, though in those 25 touches he did win three aerials and scored his seventh goal of the season on his only shot.

Substitutes

GK, Javier Otero (29′), 5 Otero made his MLS debut, coming in for the injured Stajduhar in the 29th minute. I am sure this is not how he had imagined it, coming in after a horrific injury, but the moment did not seem too big for the young Venezuelan, and he was engaged in the game from the first minute he stepped on the field. Unfortunately for Otero, Orlando City’s defense put him in a tough position twice during first-half stoppage time, giving up two shots from close range in the first half that both were converted for NYCFC goals. Otero might have had a chance to stop the first one had it not deflected off Jansson, and the second first-half stoppage-time goal was one that no goalkeeper would have stopped. Otero held his own in the second half, collecting one cross and completing 82.3% of his passes, but was beaten on the final play of the game by a well-placed shot that curled just around his fingertips into the far corner of the net. The shot was perfect, so it’s harsh to blame Otero for any of the three goals conceded on his watch. Still, it was not the debut that Otero would have wanted, and he is still looking for his first MLS save, but this experience will surely prove invaluable to him in future matches .

MF, Jeorgio Kocevski (46’), 6.5 The MLS rookie from Syracuse came on at halftime for Lodeiro, and I gave him some consideration for Man of the Match with how he changed the game for Orlando City in the second half. In his longest performance of the season, Kocevski played well, looking composed on the ball, completing 91.9% of his passes, and playing an incisive pass to Kyle Smith that led to the Martín Ojeda cross, allowing him to serve as provider on the first goal for Orlando City. With a midweek road game coming up at Toronto, Jeorgio may have earned himself another batch of minutes since the Lions will be on short rest, and if he can put in another performance like the one from this match, he may find himself playing more and more minutes in the second half of the season.

D, Kyle Smith (64′), 5.5 — Smith entered the game in the 64th minute for a mostly ineffective Santos, and in the most minutes he has played since April he had a solid performance. The veteran defender did not make a lot of defensive plays, only recording two blocks and one interception, but he did show his offensive abilities, completing 85.7% of his passes, including a well-placed pass to Ojeda for the secondary assist on the first Orlando City goal.

F, Luis Muriel (64′), 5.5 — The Colombian Designated Player entered the game for Angulo in the 64th minute and in his minutes on the field he provided the full Luis Muriel experience — one that I wrote about in more detail earlier this week. In less than 30 minutes on the field, he took three shots, launching two over the goal in his best Aaron-Judge-in-Yankee-Stadium impression while putting one shot on target, though that one was basically a tap after the ball bounced of the NYCFC goalkeeper. He played two key passes, including a smart ball to Torres that led to a great opportunity that Facundo unfortunately just hit too close to the goalkeeper. Muriel also completed the only through ball for the Lions, but overall he only completed 72.7% of his passes. Muriel was on the field for both of Orlando City’s goals and I believe that the offense was better with him in the game, but in my opinion he did not do as well with the ball at his feet as he could have with the Lions chasing a result.

F, Jack Lynn (90′), N/A  Lynn came on in stoppage time with the Lions chasing the game, but during his brief time on the pitch he only touched the ball twice and completed one pass.


That’s how I saw the individual performances on Friday night. What did you think? Be sure to let us know in the comments and vote in the poll below for your Orlando City Man of the Match.

Lion Links

Lion Links: 7/15/24

Lion Links: Orlando City tops New England, OCB wins shootout after Miami draw, Euro and Copa America champions crowned, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Hello, Mane Landers. I hope all is well with you down in Florida. I’ve been working at Under Armour all weekend and managing broadcast operations for tournament matches for the NISA Independent Cup. Let’s also wish Orlando Pride defender Carrie Lawrence a happy birthday. We’ve got plenty to cover today, so let’s get to the links. 

Lions Win on the Road against the New England Revolution

Orlando City overturned a poor first half and a 1-0 deficit to defeat the New England Revolution 3-1 and secure its first win at Gillette Stadium. All the Lions goals came in the second half, as Facundo Torres found the back of the net twice and Ramiro Enrique added one as well. Orlando won its third consecutive game and fourth of its past five matches. Orlando stays in seventh in the Eastern Conference with 30 points, while New England dropped to 13th with 22 points. The Lions will be on the road for a clash against Nashville SC on Wednesday at Geodis Park.

Barbra Banda and Anna Moorhouse named on NWSL Best XI

Orlando Pride forward Barbra Banda and goalkeeper Anna Moorhouse were named to the NWSL’s Best XI for June. Banda scored three goals and added three assists in four matches. She also became the first player in league history to score 12 goals in her first 12 appearances. Moorhouse recorded 20 saves and only allowed one goal last month. She also has seven clean sheets this year and has tied the club record for most clean sheets in a single season. Orlando’s next match will be on the road on Saturday against the North Carolina Courage in the NWSL x Liga MX Femenil Summer Cup.

OCB Draws at Home Against Inter Miami CF II

Orlando City B and Inter Miami CF II battled to a 1-1 draw at Osceola County Stadium on Sunday. Inter Miami CF II struck first, but the Young Lions came up with a great goal to equalize and send the game to penalty kicks. In the shootout, OCB won 2-0 to grab the extra point. OCB remains 10th in the Eastern Conference with 23 points, and its next match will be on the road on Sunday against New York Red Bulls II.

USWNT Beats Mexico in Friendly

The U.S. Women’s National Team avenged its loss to Mexico in the Concacaf Women’s Gold Cup earlier this year with a 1-0 victory in a friendly at Red Bull Arena on Saturday. Sophia Smith scored the lone goal in the second half. The USWNT has not conceded a goal in its last three matches with Emma Hayes on the sidelines. Also, the USWNT that won the 1999 Women’s World Cup was honored before the match as it was the 25th anniversary. The USWNT will have one more match against Costa Rica on Tuesday before it travels to Paris for the Olympics.

Spain Wins Its Fourth European Championship

Spain edged past England 2-1 in the Euro 2024 final in Berlin to win its fourth European Championship. Nico Willams put Spain in front before Cole Palmer got an equalizer for England. It looked like we were about to go to extra time until Mikel Oyarzabal struck late in the second half to seal the win for Spain. This was Spain’s first major title since winning Euro 2012. Spain won all seven of its matches and is the first team to score 15 goals in a tournament. As for England, it has lost consecutive European Championship finals and extended its major trophy drought to 58 years.

Argentina Wins Copa America Final

This year’s Copa America also came to a close, with Argentina beating Colombia 1-0 to win its 16th title. It took extra time to determine a winner after a scoreless 90 minutes. Inter Milan’s Lautaro Martinez, who led the tournament in goals, came off the bench and scored the winner. The result snapped Colombia’s 28-game unbeaten streak and it was the first time Colombia was shut out in this tournament. Lionel Messi exited the game in the second half due to an apparent ankle injury as well.

Free Kicks

  • Former Orlando City defender Ruan scored the winning goal for CF Montreal against Atlanta United over the weekend.
  • Kickoff for the 2024 Copa America final was delayed after fans without tickets breached one of the security gates at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium. Police secured the gate, and kickoff for the match was delayed an hour and 20 minutes.
  • Celtic is reportedly close to an agreement to add former Leicester City, Nice, and Anderlecht goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.
  • England manager Gareth Southgate stated he would discuss his future with the national team with important people behind the scenes, even though the English FA has indicated it prefers him to stay on. Southgate’s contract expires in December.

That will do it for me today, Mane Landers. Enjoy your Monday and I’ll see you next time.

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Orlando City vs. New England Revolution: Player Grades and Man of the Match

How did your favorite Lions perform in Orlando City’s 3-1 road victory at New England?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

There is probably a more eloquent Dickensian reference out there I could use about how this match was a tale of two cities halves. The Lions looked poor initially but started to find their footing toward the end of the first half and then came out and really lived up to our great expectations and smashed New England in the second half. A final score of 3-1 means that Orlando City finally won for the first time ever at New England and has now won three games in a row and four of its last five.

The Lions have a short turnaround with a game at Nashville coming on Wednesday, but for now, let’s bask in the glow of another high-scoring win and get to work on the report card. I have my purple pen out, and I am ready to issue those grades, so here we go.

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

Starters

GK, Pedro Gallese, 6 — The Peruvian international did not have a lot to do during this match, as New England did not really threaten his goal often. The Revolution only had three shots on target all game long, and the one goal they scored was from point-blank range after a defensive breakdown. I think Gallese perhaps could have collected the initial ball over the top from Esmir Bajraktarevic, but that would have been a risky play and he likely did not assume that his defenders would all ball watch and let runners go unmarked right in the middle of the box. Gallese made one save and completed seven passes on the night, but it was a mostly unremarkable game for him.

D, Kyle Smith, 5 — After two consecutive solid games starting in the back four, Smith looked almost subdued in the game Saturday night, completing a lot of short passes but not really accounting (see what I did there?) for any — for lack of a better term — oomph in Orlando City’s attack. He completed 30 passes at an 88.2% rate, but aside from one ball to Iván Angulo towards the left side of the box, there really was not a lot that was memorable about his play in the first half. In fact, he did not record a single defensive statistic, and I was not surprised that Rafael Santos was on the field in place of Smith when the second half started. This did apparently surprise Apple TV’s broadcasters, since they did not realize he was out for a few minutes, but Smith had not put on a Santos disguise, and he had indeed gone off after 45 minutes.

D, Robin Jansson, 6 — New England has an excellent striker in Giacomo Vrioni, but he really did not do a lot to threaten the center of Orlando City’s defense, to the point that neither Jansson nor Rodrigo Schlegel had a tackle. Now, the obvious counter to this is that, you know, Vrioni scored a goal (aside from that whole gunshot thing, how was the play, Mrs. Lincoln?), but I thought Jansson helped limit Vrioni to really only be a target and not someone that the Revolution played through. On the play that led to the goal, Jansson was marking Jack Panayotou, so I do not think he takes much culpability in that goal, even thought it happened right in front of him. As I mentioned, the Beefy Swede did not have a tackle but he led the team with four clearances and one blocked shot, and he completed 36 passes at a 90% completion rate. It was a quiet night for Jansson after his Man-of-the-Match-level performance last week against D.C. United, but I do not think the captain will mind since the Lions picked up another three points.

D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 6.5 — I thought Schlegel was excellent for most of the game, except for the three seconds from 22:44 to 22:47. During that time, he followed the ball instead of his man, and Vrioni slipped unmarked into the center of the box and smashed a shot home to give the Revolution the lead. Ugh. However, during the rest of the game, I thought Schlegel was really good, especially around the marking of Vrioni, and he showed why even with the return of David Brekalo from the Euros that Orlando City has not made a change to the pairing of Jansson and Schlegel in the middle. Rodrigo was third on the team with 51 completed passes, compiling a 98.1% completion rate (that’s 51/52, everyone), and he even advanced forward and got two shots off, though neither were on target. He also had two clearances and blocked one shot, and led the team with 11 accurate long balls on 14 attempts.

D, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, 6.5 — I know Thorhallsson is listed as the starting right back, but I really think that D for defender should be a DD for Dagur Dan, because to call him just a defender or just a right back does not really satisfy what he brings to Orlando City. He is a Dagur Dan, and just like Tigger, he is the only one. On Saturday night, he was once again all over the field making plays, and although he did not contribute to any of the goals it was not for lack of trying, as in the first half he got himself into a great scoring position for a cross from Angulo that he just could not place properly to get by Aljaž Ivačič, and he was constantly probing and making runs off the right side of the box and helping to cause worry along the left side of the Revolution’s defense. He also completed 39 passes at an 88.9% completion rate, with one key pass among those passes, and he had one tackle and one clearance defensively. I have to ding him some early defensive mistakes. He was beaten early in the match by Panayotou but Jansson was able to intervene in the 11th minute. He was in position, but still got beat over the top on the cross into the box that led to New England’s only goal. Despite the early defensive errors, I thought on the whole his performance was solid on the evening.

MF, César Araujo, 7 — The Uruguayan defensive midfielder had another typical game, generally short on flash but long on making a difference in the middle of the field. Cesar was second on the team in passes completed (54), tackles (3), and shot-creating actions (3), with one of those shot-creating actions being the assist for the second goal when his header back into the middle of the box was knocked in by Ramiro Enrique in the 58th minute. The midfield pairing of Araujo and Wilder Cartagena has been excellent during the recent three-game winning streak. I do not think it is a coincidence that as soon as Cartagena returned from the Copa America tournament, the team got hot. Araujo and Cartagena know how to play with and off of one another, which showed Saturday night. I think it is instructive to look at this heatmap from whoscored.com in between the grades for Araujo and Cartagena, because you can see just how well they balanced each other with their play during the match.

MF, Wilder Cartagena, 7.5 Saturday night’s performance was another outstanding showing from the Peruvian midfielder, as he was once again all over the field making plays and bossing the game with midfield partner Araujo. Wilder led the team with 60 completed passes at a 93.8% completion rate, and he also led the team with 16 completed passes in the attacking third, five tackles, two fouls suffered, and one (friendly) face slap of Facundo Torres, after Torres scored his second goal. I will be tracking friendly, and unfriendly, face slaps for the rest of the season, do not worry. I thought Cartagena dictated the game with his play in the center of the field, and though he did not play a major role in any of Orlando City’s three goals, he was the best two-way player on the field, and was definitely a candidate for the Man of the Match.

MF, Iván Angulo, 7.5 — During the first part of Saturday’s match it seemed like everyone wearing Orlando City colors was sluggish except one player, and that player was Angulo. As he seems to do every game, Angulo looked like he was perpetually playing on turbo mode, making runs up the sideline and getting around defenders to create opportunities. Orlando City was profligate in front of the net for most of those, but eventually his hard work paid off, as it was his driving run into the box and pass to Torres that led to the latter’s tying goal in the 51st minute. Angulo led the team in progressive carries (7), shot-creating actions (6), and key passes (4), and he completed 31 passes at an 81.7% rate. He chipped in a tackle and an interception defensively before coming off for Brekalo in the 84th minute in a defense-for-offense substitution, but the Colombian winger had well earned a few minutes of rest after another strong effort.

MF, Martín Ojeda, 6 — The Lions went with the same attacking midfield group that had been starting during the last few matches, but on Saturday night Ojeda just did not seem to have the same juice as he had brought during those other recent wins. As usual, this was not due to lack of effort, but something just was off from the Argentinean midfielder. Despite playing nearly 70 minutes, he only completed 27 passes, though he did complete them at a 96.4% rate, and he only crossed the ball four times all match, unusually low for him, completing two. He did play the corner that led to Enrique’s goal, and that was a well-placed corner kick to Araujo’s head that then came right back into the middle for the tap-in (one of Ojeda’s two key passes), but on the whole I thought it was just a muted performance by Ojeda on the night.

MF, Facundo Torres, 8 (MotM) Facu is so hot right now, not unlike how Hansel was during Zoolander. Since the official first day of summer, Torres has five goals in five matches, and he has now moved into a tie with Nani for third all-time on the Orlando City goal-contribution list (career goals + assists = 44). On Saturday night he started slowly, but as the first half came to a close he started to pick up. Then, in the second half, he was excellent. Hmm, sounds a lot like how Orlando City’s overall game flow was, too. Coincidence? No. Facu’s two goals were absolutely perfectly hit curling balls from the right side of the box that went exactly where every soccer coach tells you to shoot — low and hard to the far corner. Torres also put a third shot on target that was saved well by Ivačič, so he put all three of his shots on frame. The Uruguayan winger completed 44 passes at a 91.7% rate with two key passes. He also compiled a dribble, a tackle, and an interception. As he goes, so will this offense, and I think there is very little that we as fans love more than to see Facu over by the corner flag with his pretend phone up doing the Selfie Celebration with his teammates.

F, Ramiro Enrique, 7 — The one change in the starting lineup from the last two matches was Enrique in for Duncan McGuire, and that was most definitely not a like-for-like swap. Enrique is not as adept at holdup play and winning long balls to create possession for the offense, but what he does bring, which showed on Saturday night, was an extra burst of quickness and shiftiness to get something on the ball and create plays. This manifested in the first goal, when Angulo slipped a pass to a cutting Ramiro who then played it back, and it eventually made its way across the box to Torres. Enrique then made the dashing run on the second goal to beat everyone to Araujo’s header back across the box, tapping it into the net for his second goal in the last two games. Enrique had no key passes or defensive stats, only had 23 touches, and only completed seven passes on the night (87.5% rate), but he still contributed majorly to Orlando City coming from behind to take the lead before he made way for Luis Muriel in the 69th minute.

Substitutes

D, Rafael Santos (46′), 6 — Santos checked in after halftime and provided a spark that had not been there in the first half from the left back position. The raw stats show that Smith completed more passes and at a higher percentage, and that neither left back made many plays defensively, but Santos definitely looked more composed and threatening on the ball during the second half than what the Lions got from that position during the first half. His hustle to get to a ball that he nearly lost after a heavy touch led to the third goal for Orlando City, and while his passing accuracy (87%) was among the lowest on the team, the danger he brought to the field with his play during the second half definitely contributed to the second half comeback.

F, Luis Muriel (69′), 6.5 — The Colombian Designated Player had one of his best games as a Lion on Saturday night, which is both good news and bad news for Orlando City. I am writing grades specifically for this match, but it is hard not to also take a step back and consider that the fact that an appearance off the bench with one assist against a bottom of the conference team is one of the best games for Muriel this season does raise some questions. That said, I thought Muriel looked dangerous in this match and made the right decision with the ball on most of his possessions — in particular, his perfect pass to Torres for an assist on the third goal that effectively iced the game for Orlando City. He unselfishly played the ball with the outside of his foot to a sprinting Torres, and the weight of the pass allowed Facu to curl that ball in without ever breaking stride. That was the first Muriel-to-Torres combination for a goal, and I, for one, would enjoy seeing many more of those this season. I recommend they do this again on Wednesday. Muriel put his only shot attempt on target, forcing a save, had one key pass, and won an aerial duel.

MF, Nico Lodeiro (69′), 6 — I think the role of supersub off the bench fits Nico well, and he turned in another strong performance in his 21 minutes Saturday night. The Uruguayan took over for Ojeda and completed 14 passes at a 93.3% rate, including hustling to win a loose ball that he then played to Muriel that then went on to Torres for the backbreaking third goal from Orlando City in the 81st minute. Lodeiro was active throughout his minutes on the field, also making one tackle and intercepting one pass.

D, David Brekalo, (84’), N/A The Slovenian international came on for Angulo shortly after the Lions took a two-goal lead, moving the team to a five-man back line and playing as the right center back in between the Nordic duo of Jansson and Thorhallsson. Brekalo made one interception and completed four of his five passes, including one long ball, but he did not contribute enough in his short outing to earn a grade this week.

MF, Jeorgio Kocevski (90 +2′), N/A — Jeorgio subbed in for Araujo during stoppage time to help close out the game. He was able to get four touches of the ball and complete two passes, but he was not on the field long enough to earn a grade this week.


That’s how I saw the individual performances on Saturday night. What did you think? Be sure to let us know in the comments, and vote in the poll below for your Orlando City Man of the Match.

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Orlando City vs. New England Revolution: Five Takeaways

What did we learn from the Lions’ road victory against the Revolution?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City traveled north to battle the New England Revolution in a stadium where the Lions had never secured three points. Falling behind early, the Lions were able to ride a dominant offensive performance in the second half to walk out of Gillette Stadium with a 3-1 win. What follows are my five takeaways from a match in which the final result was both needed and a surprise all at the same time.

Poor Marking Early

Orlando City started the match flat and the Revs looked to be the aggressors for the majority of the opening half hour of the game. New England should have capitalized on poor defensive marking in the 11th minute of the match but a sliding attempt on goal was deflected wide of the near post by a recovering Robin Jansson. The poor effort ultimately came back to bite the Lions in the 23rd minute, as Dagur Dan Thorhallsson was in decent position but was too passive in defending DeJuan Jones on a back-post cross, allowing him to get to it and lay it off. Rodrigo Schlegel also attempted to defend Jones at the back post and seemed surprised when he saw Thorhalsson, peeling off but then not locating a wide-open Giacomo Vrioni in his area. New England capitalized and took a 1-0 score into the break.

Torrid Torres

Who knows what the Lions had for a halftime snack? Whatever it was, it needs to become a staple going forward. Six minutes after the start of the second half, Orlando City leveled the game, as Facundo Torres ran onto a ball near the top of the 18-yard box and skillfully placed a shot into the bottom left corner. The Uruguayan has been in top form over the last six matches, and Saturday night illustrates that when Torres is on his game, it elevates the entire team. I am calling it now…summer time Facu has officially arrived.

Success from Set Pieces

Orlando City won a corner in the 58th minute after a strong shot attempt by Torres from outside the box had been parried out of play by New England goalkeeper Aljaz Ivacic. Martin Ojeda then sent in an in-swinging corner kick to the far side of the box, which found Cesar Araujo rising to meet it. Araujo wisely put the ball back across the face of the goal, as he wasn’t in a great position to make an attempt on goal himself. At the same time, Ramiro Enrique made a smart, curling run behind the defense and in front of Ivacic. Enrique met the ball as it landed and flicked it past the keeper and into the back of the net. In what seemed like the blink of an eye, Orlando City went from a goal down to having a one-goal lead.

Securing the Victory

Orlando City fans did not have to sweat out the final minutes of the match clinging to a one-goal lead thanks once again to Torres. In the 81st minute, a quick takeaway transition was sent from second-half substitute Nico Lodeiro to fellow sub Luis Muriel. Although Muriel could have tried to get into the box himself, he spotted Torres open on the right and made the pass. Torres shot with his first touch and again picked out the inside of the left post to give the Lions breathing room. With his brace in New England, Torres is up to six goal contributions in the last three matches. Torres seems to be thinking less and doing more. Against the Revolution, both goals that Torres scored were instinctual, with no extra touches or dribbles.

Resilience on the Road

Orlando City had been winless at Gillette Stadium throughout the entirety of the club’s existence in Major League Soccer, entering the match with a mark of 0-6-2 in eight previous visits to Foxborough, MA. It is a tall task to win matches on the road in MLS, but Orlando City’s ability to grind out results away from home propelled the Lions to their best finish in team history in 2023. It’s also helped keep the ship afloat this season. Not only did the Lions make some history with the victory in Foxborough; they did it by coming from behind, demonstrating a strong desire to earn all three points on the road. It is these kind of performances that the team will be able to draw upon as the season continues.


That is how I saw things in an exciting, come-from-behind, 3-1 victory. What players or moments stood out to you the most? Let us know in the comments below and as always, vamos Orlando!

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