With both teams missing a number of starters to injury, suspension, and Gold Cup action, it seemed destined to be an ugly game from the beginning. With Orlando missing their captain Kaká to manage the referee and control the action, FC Dallas seemed the more composed team throughout the first half, in addition to getting a few friendly calls.
Dallas came out in a 3-5-2 formation, and the five midfielders seemed to overwhelm an Orlando side missing Darwin Ceren and Kaká in the middle. The referee didn't help either, and it was clear that some of the younger City players were getting a bit frustrated without Kaká there to calm things down.
Cristian Higuita tripped Fabian Castillo in the penalty area just before the halftime whistle to give Dallas a penalty kick, which Mauro Diaz buried to put them up 1-0. Orlando came out for the second half looking much better with Carlos Rivas back on the wing, but a defensive lapse allowed Dallas' Victor Ulloa to set David Texiera up for an easy goal.
It was a rough night for Orlando City all around, and there weren't a lot of positive to take out of it for anyone. Here are our player grades for the match.
G, Tally Hall, 6.5 -- Absolutely nothing Hall could have done about either Dallas goal, so hard to place any blame on the keeper for this one. Made three saves, and wore the captain's armband in Kaká's absence.
D, Luke Boden, 5 -- Earned a second yellow card and the first sending off of his professional career in the waning minutes of the match. Both fouls were questionable, but regardless, it wasn't a great night for Boden. He had a couple fairly dangerous giveaways in the back, and he failed to really influence things in the attacking end.
D, Seb Hines, 6 -- Seb was fairly solid for most of the night, but he and Okugo were both to blame for losing Texiera on Dallas' second. Hines was right to move out to cover Ulloa, but he was too late to see the run, which opened up too much space for Texiera.
D, Sean St. Ledger, 6.5 -- May have been Orlando City's best player for the first half hour or so, but he left the match in the 42nd minute after sustaining an apparent shoulder injury. Looked to be in quite a bit of pain on the field, so it seems unlikely he'll be fit for NYRB next week.
D, Rafael Ramos, 6 -- Quiet night on the offensive end for Ramos, but that's because he was busy dealing with Fabian Castillo on defense. Despite being on the field primarily for his attacking skill, he did a good job for the most part. Did give Castillo a little too much space in the run up to the second goal, and you could argue he also committed a foul on the penalty.
MF, Cristian Higuita, 5 -- Higuita did not get any support from the referee on this night, but excuses don't matter in the standings. Passing was far too inaccurate, and was completely overwhelmed by Dallas' five-man midfield.
MF, Harrison Heath, 4 -- Almost totally invisible in the first half, and was pulled at halftime in favor of Amobi Okugo. Head Coach Adrian Heath, Harrison's father, said there were "6-7 players" that could have been pulled at the half, but it was telling that he went with H.
MF, Eric Avila, 5 -- Orlando needed something more tonight from Avila, with Kaká and Larin out, but he wasn't able to come through. Chose to run with the ball instead of finding a teammate far too often, and failed to even slightly threaten Dallas keeper Dan Kennedy.
MF, Pedro Ribeiro, 6 -- He's tall, Brazilian, and he plays soccer, but he's no Kaká. On a night when Orlando City had nothing resembling an offense and managed zero shots on goal, Ribeiro was the attacking midfielder in charge of the action. To his credit, he did score a goal in the 56th minute, but it was wrongly called offside by the referee.
MF, Lewis Neal, 4 -- Somehow managed to be even less of a factor than Avila on the other wing. Unbelievably, failed to complete one pass in the attacking third.
F, Carlos Rivas, 5.5 -- It's clear that coach Adrian Heath would like to take advantage of Rivas' speed at forward on occasion, but it's just not happening. Strayed offside far too often, when he didn't really need to. Was much, much better once moved back to left wing in the second half, but it was too little too late at that point.
D, Aurelien Collin, 7 (MOTM) -- Considering Collin wasn't expecting to play at all tonight, he put in a pretty impressive 50' performance for the Lions. He made a number of last ditch tackles to stop counter attacks, and wasn't really culpable on either goal. In fact, he was there to stop Castillo had Higuita not fouled him on the first.
MF, Amobi Okugo, 4.5 -- What is wrong with Amobi Okugo? There's no question he was brought in this off-season to be a difference maker for City, but at this point he's basically a bench warmer. Got a shot to start the second half tonight, and was again disappointing. Almost gave up a goal in the 55th minute with a pass to no one in particular in the defensive half, and then got lost on Dallas' second.
MF, Danny Mwanga, N/A -- A late, desperation sub to try to provide an offensive spark for Orlando City. Failed to impact the game much either way.
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With both teams missing a number of starters, Orlando City was unable to continue its seven match home unbeaten streak. Let us know what you think of our grades in the comment section.
The Lions have a friendly against English Premier League side West Bromwich Albion on Wednesday, July 15, at 7:30 p.m. They return to MLS action the following Saturday, July 18, against the New York Red Bulls in the Citrus Bowl.