Orlando City

Orlando City vs New York Red Bulls: Player Grades and Man of the Match



Ugh. After an unbeaten start to the season, Orlando City has finally tasted defeat after a 2-1 loss in Harrison, NJ to the Red Bulls of New York. The Lions put themselves in a 2-0 hole before Silvester van der Water scored and nearly got another late in the game. Here’s how each Lion fared in the first loss of the year:


GK, Pedro Gallese, 6.5 — Gallese was great at times in this game. His early save off a Red Bulls corner kick was phenomenal. He made four more saves in this game, and didn’t have much of a chance on the two Red Bull goals. Where he needed to be better was his distribution. He was 16 of 25 (64%) passing, including 4 of 13 (30%) on long balls, which is not good enough. Granted, there was a lot of just hoofing it up to try to win second balls, but you still want at least a little more out of the back. 

D, Kyle Smith, 7 — Kyle Smith is just consistently good. He’s not dynamic the way Ruan or Joao Moutinho are, but he’s just so consistently good defensively. He made three tackles, one interception, two clearances, and nine ball recoveries. Playing as a hybrid center back and later as a true fullback, he was flexible and effective. He played a key role in several late Orlando City attacks, including having the initial cross on the goal, finishing with a completed cross and having his one shot blocked. He was also important in possession, completing a team-high 58 passes at 85%.

D, Robin Jansson, 7 — Jansson was arguably Orlando’s best player on the day — he was my choice for Man of the Match until van der Water made things happen late. Defensively he was sound with eight ball recoveries, two successful tackles, three interceptions, and six clearances. When Orlando’s midfield turned the ball over, it was often Jansson shutting down the Red Bull attack, and he did his job. Perhaps even more impactful at times was his distribution. While he only completed three of six long balls, he was breaking lines, beating the press, and putting Orlando’s forwards into dangerous spots. These are the plays that only Jansson makes for this team that can be such a weapon. Overall, he completed 39 of 46 passes (85%), and also completed a dribble. With no Rodrigo Schlegel due to personal reasons, Jansson stepped up and maybe re-earned his spot in the starting XI. 

D, Antonio Carlos, 6.5 — Another game, another solid outing from Antonio Carlos. He did his defensive work well, making two tackles, a massive seven interceptions, three clearances, and eight ball recoveries. He passes the ball well, completing 49 of 55 passes including four successful long balls. It wasn’t an overwhelmingly stellar performance, but certainly good. 

D, Michael Halladay, 5.5 — It was a good, not great, MLS debut for Homegrown defender Michael Halladay. His one big mistake came on New York’s first goal when he failed to track Caden Clark and got caught ball watching. Other than that, he was solid. He completed 19 of 23 passes (83%), won a tackle, had a pair of interceptions, and six ball recoveries. He wasn’t particularly dynamic offensively, neither of his two crosses were on target, but it was a solid first outing for the young defender. 

MF, Sebas Mendez, 4 — Mendez has been one of the standout players for Orlando in this first part of the MLS season, but this was a poor performance. He completed 46 passes at an 84% clip including 4/8 long balls, but he struggled breaking lines or even linking play at times. He gave up four fouls, including a dangerous opportunity at the top of the box for New York’s second goal, and got a yellow card. Mendez won only one of his three attempted tackles and made only one interception. Maybe I’m being harsh, but it just wasn’t good enough from Mendez in this one. 

MF, Junior Urso, 6.5 — I really like what we saw from Urso. Defensively he won the ball back eight times, won 14 duels, and completed a tackle. He was also dynamic in transition, helping spark Orlando’s best offensive actions of the game. He completed 38 passes at 84%, completed five of eight long balls, completed two of five dribbles, had a key pass, and connected on a first half corner kick, though his effort dribbled well wide. He also drew a team high eight fouls. The only real negative for me was how cheaply he gave away the ball at times with several poor passes and he was dispossessed a team-high seven times. Overall solid performance from the Bear.

MF, Andres Perea, 6 — Starting in place of a natural winger to counter New York’s diamond midfield, Perea wasn’t in his best spot to succeed but was pretty good in spite of that. He completed 36 passes at 82% including all three of his long balls and completed three dribbles. He was involved in several half chances but also put in some defensive work, with two ball recoveries and a clearance. 

MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 4.5 — It was a quiet day for El Maestro. He only played a half and made very little of his time on the field. No chances created, no shots, and only one key pass is not the return you expect from a player of Pereyra’s quality. He completed only 20 of his 27 passes (74%) including 0/3 on long balls. His defensive work was also mediocre at best with only one ball recovery and no tackles or interceptions.

MF, Chris Mueller, 5.5 — It wasn’t a bad game for Mueller, but he still hasn’t found his 2020 self. He completed 29 of his 43 passes (67%), three of his six dribbles, and had a key pass. There were times he got into dangerous spots or got the team into good areas, but the quality just isn’t there. He hasn’t been aggressive enough, finishing with no shots in this game. To be fair to him, he was doing a lot of work in this game playing as more of a wingback than pure winger and he did a good big of defensive work, with six ball recoveries and a pair of aerial wins. But for a wide player, his crossing was poor — 0/3 from open play and 0/2 on corners — and he has to start doing more. He did look a little sharper when the formation changed, but it was another disappointing outing.

F, Tesho Akindele, 6.5 — Tesho was pretty good again, even if he didn’t find the scoresheet. He did have an assist, setting up van der Water’s goal and should’ve had a second soon after. He had an excellent opportunity after being played in behind but couldn’t beat the keeper with his weak foot. In all, the big Canadian completed 23 of 27 passes. His defensive work was great again, winning seven duels, two ball recoveries, a successful tackle, and a clearance. You want more than one shot from a center forward, but with the overall lack of opportunities for much of the match and with everything else he brought to the table, it was a good Tesho performance.


F, Benji Michel (46’), 6.5 — Benji made things happen off the bench. His pace and strength were a welcome addition to the game, particularly on van der Water’s near equalizer. It wasn’t a super clean game. He was dispossessed three times and had other miscontrols, but he added a different element that stretched the field. He completed seven passes at 64%, had a successful tackle, and won three tackles. 

F, Silvester van der Water (63’), 7.5 (MotM) — Subbing on, van der Water changed the game for Orlando City. He was dynamic, creative, and dangerous for Orlando, providing a spark on the right wing. He had two successful dribbles, completed two long balls, created a chance, won four duels, and had three shots. Defensively he won a tackle and had two ball recoveries. He also bagged his first Orlando City goal in the 84th minute, though he should’ve tied the game four minutes later with a wide-open chance inside the box. Even with that miss, it was another exciting performance from the Dutchman who might’ve earned himself more minutes after these last two games.

D, Joao Moutinho (63’), 6.5 — Moutinho brought a lot in his half hour or work. His delivery was tantalizing, including a good opportunity for van der Water that unfortunately deflected off another Orlando City player. He completed 16 of 25 passes (64%), won three tackles, and made three ball recoveries.

That’s how I judged everyone’s performance, but what did you see? Leave your thoughts below and vote who you think deserved Man of The Match.

Polling Closed

Silvester van der Water31
Robin Jansson3
Antonio Carlos0
Kyle Smith4
Tesho Akindele2


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