So that happened.
Orlando City showed incredible resiliency to come back from two goals down in stoppage time against a solid and already battle tested Real Salt Lake side. Granted, the Lions should have had a better result, given that Demar Phillips was sent off after picking up two yellow cards in the first 19:12 for rash challenges on Kevin Molino and Cyle Larin, but instead of taking advantage of a man advantage that lasted 25 minutes in the first period.
The Lions failed to capitalize, playing too deliberately with the extra man and eventually RSL actually took the lead on a penalty. The spot kick was given just six minutes after Orlando City went a man up, when Seb Hines unnecessarily slide tackled Yura Movsisyan, who was running away from goal and had little to no angle to shoot from and no help in the attack. Down 1-0, Darwin Ceren’s charge from behind into Javier Morales in first-half stoppage time evened the teams at 10 men apiece and gave Real Salt Lake the advantage.
But the Lions didn’t give up and came back to rescue a point in front of more than 60,000 fans, so it kinda, sorta felt like a win. Here are my grades from today’s game. Your mileage may vary.
GK, Joe Bendik, 7 — Made the stops he could make and got a hand on Plata’s penalty, nearly stopping it. But did get caught a bit indecisive on a play in the 15th minute that could have cost Orlando City and which resulted in a corner. Distribution was generally fine and did OK on set pieces.
D, Luke Boden, 5.5 — He was good at times and not so good at other times. An inconsistent outing for Bodz, who sometimes didn’t deliver the best service on corners or long balls. He did work well on the left with Shea at times and was generally OK in defense before being subbed off.
D, Seb Hines, 5 — A completely unnecessary slide tackle ended up costing Hines some points here after an otherwise solid game. He did well in the air, despite the fact RSL players were shoving him every time he launched, managing to still get some balls on target off of corners, including the first of the game which Nick Rimando caught squarely. On the back end, there were a few scrambly moments, but he still managed to cover well and help keep the back line organized.
D, Tommy Redding, 6.5 — The 19-year-old didn’t look like the occasion fazed him. He put in a solid, if unspectacular 90+ minutes and only made a few mistakes in possession when the team was pressing to get back into the game. Adrian Heath praised his play at the postgame press conference, saying his teenaged center back did well against a very solid attacking force of Joao Plata, Yura Movsisyan, Juan Manuel Martinez, and Javier Morales. Completed 84.8% of his passes and conceded only one foul.
D, Rafael Ramos, 5 — I felt Ramos had a bit of a tough game overall. He certainly was culpable on RSL’s second goal, losing Plata by getting caught ball watching a bit. His pass selection was suspect at times as well. He did manage to make some good bombing runs in the second half, but sometimes didn’t trust his ability to make a cut and get past a defender (either that, or didn’t trust the coverage behind him enough to make that move). With Ramos, you sometimes have to live with the odd defensive lapse and that was the case today.
MF, Pedro Ribeiro, 6 — As we’ve seen throughout the preseason, Ribeiro seems like a different player at defensive midfield. He’s confident, comfortable and reads the play better without having his back to goal. He connected well with his midfield partners and probably should have drawn more fouls but Chris Penso wasn’t interested in RSL’s continuous obstruction while he was in possession. Made some unnecessarily complicated passes at times, and crushed a ball on target off a set piece that forced a great save by Nick Rimando. A promising start to the season for Ribeiro, who led the team with four tackles won. Hs four fouls committed was tied with Hines for the team high, and he’ll feel harshly done by Penso, who allowed RSL players to put hands on him several times, especially early.
MF, Servando Carrasco, 7 — Solid day for Servando, playing in central midfield. He delivered some solid long balls and broke up play well overall in the middle of the pitch. Led the team in touches and passes, with a solid (if unspectacular) 77.3% accuracy, which may have been better against an opponent less adept at clogging the midfield. His beautiful long ball in the final minute of stoppage set up Larin to chest the ball down for Winter to tie the game.
MF, Darwin Ceren, 4 — Although the red card may have been a tad harsh, Ceren put Chris Penso into a position to make a decision by charging in hard on Morales. Although the replay shows contact with the player’s back and shoulder area, Penso, who was trailing the play, ruled that Ceren intentionally took a shot at Morales’ head. The RSL veteran sold it, going down holding his head, and Penso bit. Ceren has to know the book on him is that he’ll charge in and opposing teams are waiting for that. It ruined a decent effort otherwise for Ceren, who linked up well at times with his midfield partners. He’ll miss Friday’s game with suspension, further complicating things for his team.
MF/LB, Brek Shea, 7 — His terrific cross to Larin started Orlando City’s comeback. He worried RSL’s defense all game long with his pace and charging runs up the left side. Nearly tied the game just before halftime after battling his way past the defense from a tough angle. Tied for the team lead with three shots and won a couple of fouls. This grade would likely be higher if not for a few poor crosses and a 72.4% passing accuracy.
MF, Kevin Molino, 6.5 — There’s no doubt that Molino appears ready to break out, but it’s just not quite coming together for him yet. He’ll make a spectacular move and then try to thread a pass through three guys. He’ll pass up a bad angle shot to make a worse angle pass. But he is dynamic and does make things happen on the pitch. He completed 88% of his passes and nearly scored his first MLS goal on a shot that Rimando made a nice save on. He earned a couple corners and set up a few chances but ultimately his 76 minutes of work went unrewarded.
F, Cyle Larin, 6.5 — A mostly frustrating day for Larin turned for the better in the dying moments. He got two of his three shots on goal and his tying tally in the 94th minute gave his team a lifeline in the game. He followed that by chesting a ball down for Winter to score the tying goal on a Carrasco long ball. Did well most of the game to hold up possession but seemed to be on a different page with his runs at times. Made at least one important defensive header in his own box on a corner. He likely won’t be happy with only 29 touches in 95 minutes.
MF, Adrian Winter (61′), 7.5 (Man of the Match) — The Swiss midfielder changed the energy of the team when he came on for Luke Boden, moving Shea to left back. His energy was infectious and he had a couple of late opportunities but the ball wouldn’t settle for him until Larin set him up for the equalizer. Winter buzzed around the RSL midfield and made himself a nuisance, out-working his opponents during his half hour or so of work. He completed 81.8% of his passes, created one chance, scored on another and only a wee too heavy touch on a ball he beat Rimando to kept him from scoring twice in the game.
F, Hadji Barry (77′), 6.5 — The former UCF striker had a solid first MLS outing after subbing on for Molino. He used his speed well and nearly scored his first MLS goal just barely getting a touch on a long ball that trickled just wide. Playing up top with Larin, his presence and speed created issues for the RSL back line in the game’s final minutes, and he helped set up the first goal with a pass to spring Shea down the left wing. This score could have been higher but he finished with only six touches, but his movement and speed made an impact.
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OK, that’s the match the way I saw it. I welcome your comments below, and don’t forget to vote for your Man of the Match.
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