Orlando City held on to a 2-1 victory over the Houston Dynamo. Late into stoppage time, it looked as if the Dynamo had leveled it but the assistant referee raised his flag for an offside call. This was definitely one of the Lions’ best performances collectively as a unit across the pitch. What follows is how I rated the individual performances in this one.
GK, Pedro Gallese, 7 — El Pulpo did what he does best. He stepped up to make big saves at key moments yet again, proving why he is the first name on Orlando’s team sheet. He started his night making a great save in the sixth minute. But, there were two key plays in the second half where he earned his grade. The first came in the 64th minute, when he stopped a 1-v-1 situation by taking a yellow card well outside the area. Later, he made a huge save in the 71st minute low and on the line to secure the win. He finished with four saves, passed at an 86% rate and had 31 touches on the ball.
D, Joao Moutinho, 6.5 — It looked to be a night when Moutinho decided to come out of the locker room and put on a passing clinic. His first half was filled with pinpoint passes, long balls, and subtle dinks over top that might usually go unnoticed. He found his way into the attack on a number of occasions and played just as well when called upon in the back. There was a brief moment when Moutinho thought he had earned the team a penalty by crossing the ball into the box for a handball; however, it was rightfully overturned by VAR as a free kick just outside the box. He finished his night with two tackles and interceptions, completing three long balls and passing with 82% accuracy while touching the ball 45 times.
D, Robin Jansson, 5.5 — The Beefy Swede did himself no favors by earning yet another yellow card for dissent in the 14th minute. It will also cost him another suspension for accumulation, as the Lions head to Cincinnati on Friday. He had a typically buccaneering performance. Jansson passed with 84% success, with three long balls, completed a dribble, had three clearances, and a tackle on only 35 touches. This was definitely a game that as the lone first-team center back, he should have provided the club a bit more.
D, Kyle Smith, 6 — Smith spent most of the first half going unnoticed. But as a “break glass in case of emergency” option, there is nothing wrong with that. Unfortunately, he did lose his mark and ultimately the header that ended up in the back of the net. There were also a few other errant passes throughout the night that could have cost the Lions, but thankfully Houston was unable to capitalize. Statistically, he won an aerial duel and a tackle, and recorded one interception. He also stepped up when he was needed most for seven clearances, passed at a 79% rate, and had the second-most touches on the back line, with 59. He often seemed to be in the right place at the right time, offering up his body to block hard-struck shots and take a little pressure off of Gallese.
D, Ruan, 6 — In the 17th minute, Ruan played a dangerous diagonal ball on a training ground set piece to Kara. Otherwise, it was a quiet night from the speedy right back. While he did find himself in the attack and making runs into the channels, he never really seemed dangerous coming forward like he is known to look. He was able to complete 32 passes at an 87% rate, with five crosses and three long balls. But defensively, he only mustered up a two tackles all night.
MF, Cesar Araujo, 6.5 — Araujo always seems to pop up just when you need him to. As he spent most of his night hanging back while Urso pushed forward, he was able to pass 50 times at a great 92% success rate, won a tackle, made three interceptions, and had 59 touches. He also committed two fouls while being fouled twice to keep things nice and even. There was never a highlight reel moment for Araujo in this match, but he also didn’t give any up and he shielded a makeshift center back pairing well.
MF, Junior Urso, 6 — The Bear spent much of his first half racking up yellow cards for the Dynamo players. He was fouled twice but knocked down many more times. He led the team in passing percentage (93.9%) across 33 passes. He went two for two on long ball accuracy and put one of his three shots on target. He did miss an easy tap-in finish in first-half stoppage time and had a chance saved in the 47th minute. Defensively, he made two tackles but also gave up two fouls.
MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 8 (MotM) — Pereyra was the maestro he was brought in to be on the night. He distributed well with cheeky chips and long balls throughout the match. He had 58 touches and passed at an 80% clip, while recording a game-high six key passes in the process. He is credited as having two assists on the night — one secondary and one primary — but really the goal on the latter should have been his. He pegged an unknowing Kara in the calf on a powerful shot that became Kara’s second goal, but it always seemed to be going into the back of the net regardless. On the first goal, he played a perfectly weighted ball to Torres that was then passed on to Kara for the opener. The only blemish on his night would be a yellow card that he really knew nothing about. Pereyra chested down a ball and went to play it on the volley at the same time a Dynamo player ran in from behind him. Striking the player with his boot earned him an unfortunate booking.
MF, Jake Mulraney, 6.5 — I have become a Mulraney fan over his past few appearances. But tonight, we were shown a new aspect of his game. While he is pacey and dangerous on the wings, it seemed he was given more freedom to cut inside and make runs. The free flowing role with the player drifting inside is something we are accustomed to seeing Torres do, but at times it caught the Dynamo off guard when it came from the other side. He looked even more dangerous on the inside than on the touchlines, and it will be interesting to see this develop more over the coming weeks. He passed at a 76% rate and offered four shots but none were on target. He had no defensive statistics on the night, but he did stand up attackers well in hold-up play.
MF, Facundo Torres, 7 — Torres had a series of great passes throughout the match. In the 19th minute, he played a perfectly weighted ball to Ruan, setting up a cross and chance. In the 25th minute, he made the extra pass to Kara for the first goal and his fifth assist of the year. In the 47th minute, he took on the back line and was able to lay off to Urso for a shot. While only one of these plays led to a goal, he was able to keep the attacking pressure and momentum up for the Lions. He had one shot and four key passes. He got stuck in for three tackles and a clearance. He crossed the ball four times and went two for two on long balls with his 87% passing rate. Overall, it was a solid shift for the Designated Player.
F, Ercan Kara, 7.5 — The stat sheet shows two goals for Kara, but he really only knew about one of them, securing the team’s first brace of the year. He opened the scoring in the 25th minute, sliding at the back post to tap in and finish off a DP-to-DP-to-DP sequence. In the 58th minute, Kara found himself standing near the six-yard box when Pereyra struck a ball low and hard in his direction. The deflection off his calf gave him a brace for the night, but I’m sure he will give credit to Pereyra in the locker room. Kara put four of his five shots on target, won an aerial battle, won two tackles, and had a clearance.
F, Benji Michel (64’), 5.5 — It never seemed like Michel got involved in the game. He wasted what could have been the nail in the coffin with a stoppage-time chance. But even before then, he only touched the ball 13 times across nearly 30 minutes of play. As he continues to work back from injury, he will need to offer the team more or else he might just find himself being replaced permanently.
MF, Andres Perea (68’), 6 — Perea had 18 touches in the final minutes of the game. He won two aerial duels, a tackle, and had a clearance to see the Lions to victory. He completed his 12 passes at a 75% rate.
F, Tesho Akindele (78’), N/A — Lately, it seems like Akindele finds himself playing on the wings opposed to striker — as he often did under Pareja in Dallas. He came on late in the match to offer some fresh legs and size defensively. He was able to offer the club a much-needed clearance late.
F, Alexandre Pato (78’), N/A — Pato came on to offer that super-sub spark. While there weren’t enough minutes left in the game for him to get his own goal, he did find himself in behind the back line in the 93rd minute. He laid the ball across the face of goal for an onrushing Michel, but the chance was ultimately wasted. Pato likely could have done better firing at the goal, and in the future, we need to see him finish teams late in games.
MF, Sebas Mendez (78’), N/A — With only four touches, there’s not much by which to judge Mendez’s performance. He completed two of his four passes.
That’s how I saw the performances on Saturday night in Exploria Stadium. Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments, and don’t forget to vote for Man of the Match.
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