Orlando City won its fifth consecutive match on Friday night at the Citrus Bowl, with this week's victims donning the Sky Blue of Manchester City Lite, known in Major League Soccer circles as New York City FC. While New England failed to lend the Lions a hand against Montreal on Saturday, it was still a massive win for Adrian Heath's side in its final home match of the 2015 season.
Now we take a look at how the Stock Watch responded to the 2-1, come-from-behind victory that cemented OCSC as this season's superior expansion club.
Carlos Rivas – With Brek Shea serving a suspension, the Colombian got the start on the left wing against NYCFC and used his pace to torment the defense all evening. Rivas recorded three key passes in the game and the fact that he ended the night without recording at least one assist was a traveshamockery.
Rivas got things going early, generating a pair of chances in the first 15 minutes for OCSC that went wasted by teammates, and then in minute 40 he curled a beautiful left-footed cross perfectly onto the forehead of Cyle Larin, who should have done better with his headed effort. Then in the second half, Rivas set up what should have been, could've been, and maybe was, a goal that was not allowed by the referee, when he sent in another superb service to Larin whose shot was promptly sat on by NYC's Jefferson Mena as it crossed the line in the 73rd minute.
While he won't have the stats that he deserves to back the outing, Rivas' stock is hot this week following a scintillating shift on the left.
Cyle Larin – Just when it seemed like Kid Fantastic's stock couldn't get any higher, he went out and registered another brace to put his goal tally at 17 for his rookie season. The crazy thing is, as Rivas' lack of assists illustrate, Larin probably should have bagged another hat trick at the very least in this one, but he was still too much for NYCFC to handle once again, as he's now notched five goals against New York City this year.
Although Larin couldn't match Rivas' intensity out of the gate, he got stronger as the match progressed and wore down the center of the NYC defense to net the equalizer and the match-winner. Larin now has as many goals as David Villa this season and has more goals than esteemed MLS strikers such as Chris Wondolowski, Bradley Wright-Phillips and Obafemi Martins as he continues to set the MLS rookie scoring bar higher and higher.
Corey Ashe – Ashe was in a tough spot on Friday evening, playing for the first time in over a month and doing it on his weak side at right back. Not to be deterred, the natural left back stepped up to the challenge and turned in a solid evening for Heath and the Lions.
The diminutive defender used his pace to get up the right flank and parlayed that into an assist when he set up Larin's first goal of the night with a nifty cross into the box. Overall, Ashe completed 78% of his passes on the night on 51 total touches, several of which were in the form of dangerous crosses.
Tally Hall – Hall finds himself in the falling category not for his play, but for the unfortunate injury he suffered in the second half that has put his 2015 season to an end one game early. As he started to accelerate for a charge out to handle a long ball from NYC, Hall went to the ground grasping his right knee with what was later revealed to be a torn meniscus that will require surgery.
As for his play on the night, Hall was not particularly busy, which is nice for a goalkeeper, but his distribution, while not too bad, was a bit off. He saved everything he could on the night, as Kwame Watson-Siriboe's opening goal was out of his reach.
Lewis Neal – Neal got the start in the middle of the pitch in place of the suspended Kaká and it's safe to say that he didn't look much like Ricky at any point in the match. He completed over 86% of his passes on the night, but zero of them went down as key passes (passes that led directly to a shot) as Adrian Winter, Rivas and the fullbacks provided more in attack than Neal did at the No. 10 spot.
Neal was not a liability by any means, but his lack of creativity and relative anonymity did nothing to inspire a rise on the Stock Watch. Throw in the golden opportunity he squandered in minute 38, when he scuffed a nice setup from Winter wide left from about 15 yards in front of goal, and you've got a stock on the decline.