It felt like Orlando City was robbed once again, but all things considered, a 1-1 draw on the road against a solid San Jose side should really be considered a good result for the Lions.
Of course, Major League Soccer referee Allen Chapman may not want to visit Orlando any time soon. His questionable red card on Brek Shea early in the second half put the Lions at a disadvantage for nearly 40 minutes. Again, though, it was rookie Cyle Larin who stepped up to save the day for City.
Darwin Ceren also looked good again for Orlando, though it was his blunder that gave up the equalizing penalty to the Quakes. Kaká was better again as well, though the offense was mostly neutralized upon the early departure of Shea.
Here are the grades for the resilient Lions on the night:
G, Tally Hall, 7 -- Not much to do again for Hall, in his second match back from ACL surgery. Made a huge save on Pérez García's shot in the 72nd minute to keep Orlando in the game.
D, Luke Boden, 6 -- A pretty quiet night for Bodz. He got forward well, but his final cross was uncharacteristically lacking on occasion. Avoided any defensive miscues.
D, Sean St. Ledger, 7.5 (MOTM) -- Another steady evening for Aurelien Collin's replacement, who Head Coach Adrian Heath may have a hard time taking off the pitch when Collin returns. Racked up six clearances for the Lions, and while Kaká and Larin were excellent, St. Ledger deserves credit for his quietly superb performance.
D, Seb Hines, 6.5 -- Less visible than St. Ledger, but solid nonetheless. Used his quickness to cover well for Boden when he was up in the attacking third.
D, Rafael Ramos, 6.5 -- Lots of close-but-not-quite in the first half, but the role of an attacking fullback decreases dramatically when a team loses a man. He avoided being beaten badly on defense, and his left-footed blast in the 61st nearly put Orlando up after the Shea red.
MF, Darwin Ceren, 5 -- Ceren played well for 89 minutes, but to earn a high grade, you need to avoid needlessly conceding a game-tying penalty. No excuse for charging through Stewart in the area to allow San Jose to even the score.
MF, Cristian Higuita, 5.5 -- An extremely quiet night for Higuita. It's clear that the more experienced Ceren has taken control on the midfield without Okugo on the field, but it's not quite clear what Higuita's role will be. He got forward at times, and stayed back at times, but wasn't particularly noticeable doing either.
MF, Brek Shea, 5 -- Shea played fine in a relatively dull first half, and then was confusingly sent off for a tackle on which he appeared to make hardly any contact at all with Sanna Nyassi. A poor decision from the referee ruined Shea's night, but fortunately for him, the Lions were still able to earn a point.
MF, Kaká, 7-- Buried the penalty for the Lions' lone goal of the match, and again looked consistently threatening on the offensive end. Would still like to see him be a little more aggressive and more quick to take shots on his own when he's within scoring range. Hustled well for 90 minutes, and got back on defense often after Orlando went down to 10 men.
MF, Eric Avila, 6.5 -- Passable is perhaps the best word to describe Avila. He progresses the ball forward well, moves it along, and at least makes his presence felt. At the same time, it seems unlikely that he's going to score or directly create many goals for City in the right wing role. Is it only a matter of time until we see a nearly healthy Pedro Ribeiro reclaim his spot in the starting XI at the expense of Avila?
F, Cyle Larin, 8 -- Though Kaká will claim it on the stat sheet, it was Larin's hard work and clever header that earned the penalty for the Lions. Further, the rookie stayed in as the lone option up top for the 10-man Lions through the 84th minute. He hardly had any opportunities, but his play, hustle, and effort in a difficult situation was commendable.
D, Martin Paterson, 6.5 -- Shout-out to Pato here. Despite only coming on in the 84th minute, he harassed San Jose, earned a yellow card, and played a significant role in allowing Orlando City to hold on for the tie. That was an important, veteran sort of nine minutes that the Lions will need to be a serious playoff contender this year.
MF, Amobi Okugo, N/A -- Entered at 87' and had little impact. The Lions were able to slow the game down sufficiently enough that there wasn't much in the way of a last-gasp effort from the Quakes.
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It was disappointing to lose Shea on such a poor red card decision, but in the end, the Lions should be happy to earn a point on the road despite the adversity.
Orlando City is back in action next Saturday night, when the Columbus Crew come to town. The Lions will be looking to avenge a demoralizing 3-0 defeat at Columbus (also down to 10 men that night) in April. The match kicks off at 7:30 p.m.