It was a valiant effort from Orlando City, but in the end they weren't able to hold off the second half comeback from D.C. United. Goals from Kofi Opare and Chris Rolfe were enough to top Cyle Larin's first half blast and give the Black and Red three points at home.
The Lions played well enough in the first half, scoring early and then effectively stifling D.C. through the halftime whistle. Aurelien Collin and Rafael Ramos looked excellent on the back line, and Larin continued to show improvement up top.
Just as United was beginning to build momentum in the second half though, Collin had to be removed from the game with an apparent hamstring injury. Seb Hines' apparent lack of fitness meant that fullback Tyler Turner had to be thrust into emergency duty at CB, which seemed destined for failure from the outset.
When Opare managed to beat his marker and score off a set piece for D.C. in the 70th minute, the writing was on the wall for Orlando. It was only a matter of minutes until Rolfe was able to elude Turner and touch home a cross from Jairo Arrieta, who Orlando City selected and, then quickly dealt, in this off-season's expansion draft.
Noticably absent from much of the night's proceeding was Kaká, who had perhaps his least effective game of the season for Orlando City. Here are the player grades for the evening:
G, Donovan Ricketts, 6.5 -- Doesn't deserve blame for either goal, and did well enough when he was called upon. Made a huge save in the 69th minute on DeLeon to keep City in the lead a few moments longer.
D, Luke Boden, 6 -- Was again passable, if not impressive, in his new starting role at left back. His corners and crossing are an improvement, but he was beaten badly defensively on a few occasions, including by Michael Farfan in the 62nd.
D, Sean St. Ledger, 5.5 -- As they always say with center backs, a quiet night is generally a good one. Not involved on either DC goal, though he failed to really have much impact offensively either.
D, Aurelien Collin, 7.5 -- The Frenchman was having a Team of the Week-caliber performance for Orlando, and then it all went wrong. After tracking back and clearing the ball on defense in the 65th minute, he fell to the pitch clutching his hamstring. With only rookie fullback Tyler Turner available to replace him, his unfortunate injury may have doomed Orlando City.
D, Rafael Ramos, 7 -- Looked like the Lions' most dangerous attacking threat for much of this match. Overall, another good performance, but he loses a point or so for losing track of Opare on D.C.'s first goal.
MF, Darwin Ceren, 6.5 -- It seemed to me that the El Salvadoran National Team captain relished his leadership responsibilities in midfield without Okugo in the lineup. It may have been his best match so far in MLS, and it was his blocked shot that led to Larin's goal.
MF, Harrison Heath, 5.5-- Didn't really do a whole lot, but didn't make any major mistakes for the Lions either, which is all you could really ask from the 19-year-old. He was active enough, and showed he was clearly ready for the intensity by getting in 34-year-old Davy Arnaud's face early on. Did earn a dangerous free kick in the 54th.
MF, Brek Shea, 5 -- Doesn't seem to have developed any chemistry with Kaká playing in his new midfield role. Active, but really never seemed particularly dangerous.
MF, Kaká, 4 -- Easily the Brazilian's worst game for the Lions. He was a total non-factor on offense, and actually hurt the team with a number of turnovers and bad passes. His giveaway in the 79th led directly to Rolfe's goal.
MF, Eric Avila, 5 -- More "blah" from Avila. An excellent piece to have on your roster as versatile depth, but is he really cut out to be an every-match starter for Orlando City?
F, Cyle Larin, 7 -- Excellent work from the Canadian from the opening whistle in this one. Continues to show a great motor, and his goal was more impressive than he may get credit for. Showed some improvement in his holdup play, and flashed a bit more of the dribbling and speed that made him a star at UConn.
D, Tyler Turner, 4 -- Replacing Aurelien Collin at center back was always going to be an impossible ask for Turner. He entered just as D.C. was gaining momentum, and crafty veteran Chris Rolfe easily lost him on United's second goal.
MF, Bryan Rochez, 5 -- Another fairly short substitute appearance for Rochez. He put in the effort, but failed to really have any impact on the game in 13 minutes.
MF, Carlos Rivas, 4.5 -- Entered at 81' and also failed to impact the match. Blasted one ill-advised shot well over the bar, and failed to react quickly enough inside the six yard box on what could have been a late equalizer.
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Orlando City looked good at times, but the injury to Collin was too much to overcome on the road against a strong D.C. side. Thoughts on our player grades? Let us know in the comment section.
The Lions are on short rest this week, playing their third match in eight days against the L.A. Galaxy on Sunday, May 17, at 5 p.m. in Orlando.