Orlando City welcomed back starters Brek Shea, Kevin Molino, Darwin Ceren and Rafael Ramos from international duty, and for the most part outplayed a very good D.C. United team, but in the end it was the same late heartbreak by Vancouver. Luis Silva put a stoppage time free kick past a diving Donovan Ricketts and now we're all angry, sad and any number of other negative emotions right now.
At some point, out-playing your opponent means nothing if there's no reward at the end of the 90 (or so) minutes. Some teams go months without the number of outstanding scoring chances Orlando had during tonight's 1-0 loss to United, but a combination of missing the net and the omnipotence of Bill Hamid in the DC goal combined to keep the Lions scoreless for the second consecutive home match.
And that Silva goal really did spoil a marvelous effort by Orlando City.
Let's get to tonight's player grades before I start drinking and never stop.
G, Donovan Ricketts, 6 -- He got his hands on the game winner but couldn't keep it out, which ruined an otherwise fine performance. Positionally, Ricketts was good all night, he controlled his box as a veteran should and he made two vital saves on Chris Pontius and Conor Doyle to keep the game scoreless during D.C. United's best sequence.
D, Brek Shea, 8 -- We saw perhaps the best crossing of the season out of Orlando's left back, who was playing after featuring for the USMNT for 90 minutes early in the week in Switzerland and flew back from Europe. Shea was dangerous, linked up with the midfielders well and provided beautiful crosses for his teammates. Defensively, he lost Sean Franklin once but other than that was solid. When he got caught forward, he recovered well. Oh, and he was the only one in the wall who jumped on Silva's game-winning free kick. Oh, and he saved a goal on the line. For my money he was man of the match.
D, Seb Hines, 6.5 -- Once again you didn't notice him much, and once again that was a good thing. Hines has provided solid play in the position that was the last one to be settled in preseason.
D, Aurelien Collin, 7.5 -- We didn't see much in the way of reckless play from Collin tonight. The Frenchman was good in the air, and made important tackles out in front of his box to stop United attacks. However he did make a mess of two chances in front of goal off corners, one with his head and one with his feet.
D, Rafael Ramos, 7 -- The Portuguese U-20 international was very solid once again, not really putting a foot wrong defensively and keeping the pressure on the left side of D.C. United's defense. He continues to impress and aside from not trusting his speed to get forward a few times, really had a great overall game.
MF, Darwin Ceren, 6 -- A few cheap giveaways and a few fouls tonight from the El Salvador international, who didn't get back to Orlando until Wednesday afternoon, but he was otherwise solid in breaking up plays in midfield, and playing passes forward. Seemed to tire in the second half and it affected the team keeping possession.
MF, Amobi Okugo, 7 -- Another very good outing for the defensive midfielder. Okugo controlled the back end for Orlando, provided coverage for defenders who went forward, and was involved throughout the game. If there was a flaw in his game tonight it was the two fairly open headers off corners that he pushed wide.
MF, Eric Avila, 5 -- Although he was involved and played fairly well in the first half, he all but disappeared after the break, even to the point where Kaká and Shea were ignoring him when he was open wide to the left side in the second half. He gave way to Carlos Rivas in the 71st minute and that quickly gave the Orlando attack a boost.
MF, Kaká, 8 -- The Brazilian was outstanding with his distribution and seemed OK with acting as playmaker, attempting only one shot all night, and that one was squibbed well wide as he tried to pull it back for a left-footed try. He sprung Larin, Kevin Molino and Carlos Rivas several times for what could (and maybe should) have been goals. The only thing he did wrong all night was fail to jump on Silva's free kick, which went right over his head en route to the back of the net. Was it his calf injury acting up? He did get fouled and was slow to get up in the second half and hardly took any of the free kicks after that, so...maybe?
MF, Kevin Molino, 6.5 -- It may have been his best game of the season for about the first 70 minutes, but Molino still must take another step forward. He rocked the post on one shot and took four total shots. His pass to spring Rafael Ramos was sublime and his link-up play was good once again, but he lacked the vision to give Cyle Larin a tap-in and really should have beaten even a top notch keeper like Hamid on the play anyway.
F, Pedro Ribeiro, 5 -- Continued to work hard up top and earned an early corner to set up a chance. Might have opened the scoring at 19th minute mark but appeared to pull a hamstring before he could open himself up for a shot, trying to fight off Kofi Opare.
F, Cyle Larin, 7 -- The Canadian really opened up the game when he came on for the injured Ribeiro. He gave Molino and Kaká space and got four shots off, with two on target, but unfortunately both were right at Hamid. You can see the talent but the rookie hasn't quite put it together just yet.
MF, Carlos Rivas, 6.5 -- Provided much more of an attacking force on the left than Avila and did manage a few chances, with his best coming on a free kick denied by Hamid's best save of the night, a diving effort to his left on a ball labeled for the bottom corner. But Orlando still needs more from the Colombian, who seemed to have too much time in the box with no defender in front and missed the net entirely.
F, Bryan Rochez, N/A -- Came on in stoppage time and didn't really have time to make an impact on the game.