Orlando City played shorthanded for the sixth time in 20 MLS matches this season when referee Fotis Bazakos showed a straight red card to Lions striker Cyle Larin in the 32nd minute. City was already down a goal at that point and the uphill climb got that much harder with only 10 men to play against 11. The result was a disappointing 2-0 loss against a team Orlando could have jumped in the standings with a win.
To Orlando's credit, the Lions played hard throughout the match, out-shot New York Red Bulls (14-10), and created more scoring chances (9-8), despite being shorthanded. Adrian Heath lauded his team's effort and fight to try to take something out of the game, but in the end the Red Bulls finished their chances and Orlando City didn't.
Here are are Player Grades for the match:
G, Tally Hall, 7 -- Made two big saves early in the match on Sacha Kljestan (2') and a Bradley Wright-Phillips header (5') to keep Orlando City in it early. He could do nothing on Kljestan's goal and Grella's late tally. Kept the back line organized and did his usual solid job between the sticks.
D, Corey Ashe, 5.5 -- Solid, if unspectacular debut in purple for the two-time MLS All-Star. Had some nice runs and good interchange on the left with Carlos Rivas but his lack of familiarity with his teammates led him to zig a few times when his teammate zagged. His crosses didn't find his targets. However, Adrian Heath praised Ashe in the postgame press conference for playing well having had only a couple of days on the training ground with his new team. Had a game-high 97.1% passing accuracy.
D, Sean St. Ledger, 7 -- A surprise starter after his dislocated shoulder last Saturday against FC Dallas, Ledge went the distance and was his usual solid self. Not too many individual moments of standout brilliance tonight, but a steady, calming presence that snuffed out chances before they became too dangerous.
D, Aurelien Collin, 6.5 -- May have crossed wires with Rafael Ramos on Kljestan's goal, but was otherwise solid again with timely interceptions and was calm on the ball under pressure in tight spots. Wasn't able to assert himself in the air on the numerous free kicks and corner kicks. Tried an audacious bicycle kick off a corner but it resulted in a foul for a high boot.
D, Rafael Ramos, 6 -- Got forward well on the outside but wasn't able to land many of his crosses where he wanted. Didn't get much help on the right with Lewis Neal only getting 36 touches on the night. Was partly culpable on Kljestan's goal, failing to either properly track the Red Bulls midfielder or communicate to teammates about the danger.
M, Cristian Higuita, 6 -- A generally solid night for the young Colombian although his petulance at being whistled for a foul earned him a booking that will keep him out of next Sunday's match at New York City FC. Was good at breaking up New York's attacks and led the team with three chances created, but failed to capitalize on getting into good spots in the offensive third. Had a screamer of a shot go just inches over the bar in the 73rd minute. The players and Adrian Heath were both adamant that Luis Robles got a touch on it for a corner and Heath was ejected for his dissent.
M, Darwin Ceren, 7.5 (MOTM) --Tireless work tonight from Ceren on his return from Gold Cup duty. Broke up play all over the pitch, got the ball into good spots on offense and drew a game-high five fouls with his footwork. Completed 91.4% of his passes and had a team-high 79 touches, as he was constantly on and around the ball.
M, Carlos Rivas, 6.5 -- Created problems for New York with both his pace and his power but he couldn't find the final touch needed to produce a goal. He had a game-high seven shots but placed only three of them on goal. Still, all three of those chances were dangerous and stung the hands of Luis Robles. Had a chance to play in Kaká for a brilliant chance but shot instead. Awareness and final touch will get better but not a bad night for the Colombian DP.
M, Kaká, 6.5 -- Another night at the office for Kaká, who finished with three shots and created two chances. His movement was good and he made Dax McCarty look silly with an early nutmeg in the box. His passing wasn't quite where it normally is, though, with only a 72.7% accuracy rating.
M, Lewis Neal, 4 -- A very quiet night for the Englishman, who touched the ball only 36 times in 77 minutes. He had no shots, created no chances and his passes, while accurate, weren't any kind of threat. If he was focusing on the defensive end, well, he only finished with one tackle.
F, Cyle Larin, 4.5 -- Got the awful red card in the 32nd minute after a fairly forgettable first half. Had a cross that wasn't close to anyone and didn't produce any dangerous chances, but his holdup play was decent and had one shot from the top of the box blocked. Had a couple of heavy touches that hurt the attack, but honestly didn't offer much from a positive or negative perspective, although he definitely didn't deserve to be sent off.
F, Bryan Rochez, 4.5 (77') -- Came on for Lewis Neal and touched the ball nine times but produced little threat. Created one scoring chance but didn't impact the game much.
F, Pedro Ribeiro, N/A (88') -- A very late substitution for Corey Ashe, Ribeiro didn't really have time to leave a mark on the match.
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