Well, that was quite the game now wasn’t it? Orlando City picked up its first win of the young season and did so in rather exciting fashion. And, while it was by no means perfect, a win is a win. Let’s see how the players fared in what will hopefully be the first of many.
GK, Joe Bendik, 5 — It was another tough day at the office for Bendik. While he couldn’t do very much about the first goal, he won’t be happy getting beaten five hole on the second one. Meanwhile, he didn’t contest the set piece ball played across his box to Aaron Long, and paid the price for his indecisiveness. He did well to come out of the box on a couple occasions in the first half when there were balls played over the top, but this was not a good day for Joe, including some poor goal kicks.
D, Mohamed El-Munir, 7 — It was a mixed bag from El-Mo today. He wasn’t marked nearly tightly enough to Florian Valot on New York’s opening goal, again struggling to defend at the back post. The rest of his day was better though, as he made a potentially goal saving tackle in the 18th minute, and showed excellent awareness from a throw-in to assist on Dom’s second goal of the day. He got forward often, usually to good effect, but he needs to improve on that pesky back post.
D, Amro Tarek, 6 — Tarek started the game well enough, but didn’t step in to stop the pass that Derrick Etienne scored from. Like his partner in defense, he struggled at times dealing with balls played over the top. On one such occasion in the 18th minute, only a timely intervention from El-Mo prevented a good opportunity for the Red Bulls. The rest of his game was solid enough, but neither center back was completely convincing in the first half. Hopefully the injury that saw him subbed off for RJ Allen wasn’t too bad.
D, Lamine Sané, 6 — Sané losing Etienne resulted in the Red Bulls second goal. He made plenty of good tackles, and was assured on the ball in the face of the high press. He was part of the offside trap that caught the Red Bulls a number of times, and though he wasn’t able to prevent Long’s goal, it looked like he was fouled. He did well for the rest of the game but won’t enjoy watching that second Red Bulls goal. Not a bad performance, but not a particularly good one either in his first MLS start.
D, Scott Sutter, 6 — Sutter was quiet for most of the game. He didn’t close down his man quickly enough on the opening goal, allowing Kaku plenty of time to pick out Valot at the far post. He also didn’t get forward nearly as much as fans have become accustomed to, although that was perhaps by design to help provide extra cover for the center backs. One of the few occasions he did however, his shot deflected in off Josué Colmán for the winner, so bonus points are certainly in order for that.
MF, Yoshimar Yotún, 7.5 — As usual Yoshi was heavily involved in the game. He assisted Dom’s first goal from a corner kick, and popped up all over the field. Some of his passes weren’t as accurate as they could have been, but the ones that were successful were usually part of a good piece of build-up play towards the Red Bulls’ goal. Overall, a good game from him.
MF, Cam Lindley, 5.5 — Cam struggled against the Red Bulls’ pressure. He had a positively dreadful giveaway that led to Etienne’s goal, and his passing accuracy on the day was only 58%. He often had less time on the ball than he expected and he finished with just one tackle. He did manage to connect on three of his five long balls, but his withdrawal at halftime for Colmán was certainly the correct decision, although whether it was for his play or for being hacked down by Kaku behind the play is anyone’s guess.
MF, Will Johnson, 7.5 — For much of the game Johnson was in the running for my Man of the Match. Not only did he score, (even if it was a tap in) but he also completed 91% of his passes, made several great tackles, and was involved in many of the team’s good moments in the first half. But a needless and quite frankly stupid foul gave the Red Bulls the set piece that they would eventually equalize from. That mistake aside though, if Johnson continues to play the way he did today it might be difficult to dislodge him from the starting XI.
MF, Sacha Kljestan, 8 — Another player who I seriously considered giving MOTM to, Kljestan impressed on his home debut. He made Johnson’s goal happen, playing a great pass through for Justin Meram, who in turn supplied Johnson. He also played a fantastic ball over the top of the defense in the second half that Chris Mueller was desperately unlucky not to score from. His vision and passing was at the heart of a lot of what Orlando did well, including finding Sutter on the other side of the field to set up the winning goal, and he certainly gave fans reason for encouragement going forward.
F, Justin Meram. 8 — Meram benefited immensely from having the physical presence of Dom Dwyer up front with him. Free to drift out wide where he’s most comfortable, Meram assisted on the team’s first goal, and nearly got a goal himself in the last minute of stoppage time only to be denied by a last-ditch challenge after waltzing through half the Red Bulls’ defense. He did put the ball in the net, but it was flagged offside. He was unable to do anything after being released down the wing in the 70th minute, but wasn’t helped very much by Mueller’s run.
F, Dom Dwyer, 8.5 (MOTM) — While he almost certainly fouled Robles while scoring his first goal, he certainly won’t care and neither do I. A goal is a goal. No such questions surrounded his second though, as he showed wonderful awareness in making an intelligent run behind the defense on a throw-in to lash the ball in from a difficult angle. His hold-up play was excellent for the entire game, and he was fouled on more than one occasion as he brought the ball down. An excellent season debut for one of the fan favorites, and hopefully the goals continue to flow.
MF, Josué Colmán (45’), 7 — Coming on for Lindley after halftime, Colmán instantly added another dimension to the Lions’ game. With his intelligent movement, good passing, and dribbling ability he helped create more than one chance for Orlando. He was involved in lots of delicate interplay that typically resulted in a player being released into space with the ball, and his work was rewarded with a completely unintentional goal when Sutter’s shot deflected in off his back. He perhaps tried to do too much at times but his possession play late helped the team kill off the game.
F, Chris Mueller (64’), 6.5 — Mueller came on for Dwyer and did a decent job of deputizing for him. While his failure to make a more intelligent run in the 70th minute resulted in Meram being left with few options, he nearly made up for it a few minutes later. The rookie timed his run to perfection and must have surely thought he scored, only to be denied by a fantastic save from Luis Robles.
D, RJ Allen (73’), 6.5 — Allen subbed on for the injured Tarek, and simply didn’t have a ton to do. However, his passing was accurate and he didn’t any egregious errors, so it was a solid enough 20 or so minutes from him.
Do you agree with my ratings, or am I nuttier than a port a potty at a peanut festival? Vote for your Man of the Match below, and let me know in the comments about your opinions on the players’ performances.
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