With a 1-0 win over the weekend, Orlando City earned a big three points over the host
Bridgeview Chicago Fire, riding the momentum from last weekend for the Lions' second set of consecutive wins this season.
The road to the playoffs is a rough one, which Lions are seeing their stock rise heading down this important stretch?
Cristian Higuita - I can't help it, folks. I try to diversify my picks, but lately, Higuita is forcing my hand. He's continually improved since overtaking Amobi Okugo and here we are -- in September -- and the guy is still raising the bar.
The midfield belonged to Cristian on this night. The man racked up eleven tackles. Chicago? The whole team got twelve. He completed 87% of his 61 passes, including 71% of his long tries. He completely owned the midfield in a game that saw captain Kaká miss his second straight MLS match. That's the kind of performance that sends your stock into orbit. NASA is monitoring the situation from the International Space Station.
The Back Line - Yeah, I'm cheating. I've got a lot of love to give around and a limited space to work with. Besides, both David Mateos and Aurelien Collin positively earned it.
Let's start with Mateos, who is taking to Florida like he's a New Yorker in February. Looking more and more comfortable each day, Mateos was dominant, while sometimes isolated in the middle as Collin helped stifle Fire winger David Accam down the flank. With four interceptions, five clearances, and between 1.2 and 1.5 gallons of ice cold blood coursing through his veins, Mateos wasn't just cool under pressure. He was frozen. A stoic force that rose head and shoulders above the competition, this was one of the finest performances we've seen along the back line all year.
But let's not forget about the Pitbull.
Collin's performance was nothing to scoff at, either. He passed the eye test beautifully, giving Rafael Ramos support on the wing, yet still partnering with Mateos as a firm back line in the box. Seven interceptions, seven clearances, four tackles, and a 91% passing rate to boot to satisfy the numbers nerds like myself. This back line doesn't just bark -- it has a mean, mean bite.
If the back line can keep this up down the stretch, it will go a long way toward making a push for the postseason.
Adrian Heath -- I'm gonna squeeze one more in because the man deserves it. I've criticized Inchy when I've felt it was warranted, but today, the man's earned nothing but praise for a masterfully managed game.
I submit Exhibit A: the only exhibit. Inchy made three subs on the evening, and in this clip, you'll see sub No. 2 (Brek Shea) feed a ball in to sub No. 1 (Darwin Ceren), who taps a feed to sub No. 3 (Bryan Rochez) before people in purple go crazy around the country.
Good work from the boss, good work from the players, good night for the fans.
Alright, the hug-fest stops here. It was a big win, a good win, but there's always room for improvement if you aren't the best. We'll start with Adrian Winter. It's tough not to see your stock fall after scoring a brace, and while Winter failed to score a hat trick, he finds himself as an easy choice here.
Truthfully, I thought Winter had a solid outing. While he went back to his "invisible man" routine, he was at least efficient, completing 87% of his passes for one of his more accurate outings as a Lion.
We've seen what Winter is capable of -- nights like this, while tolerable, are no longer what we hope for.
Cyle Larin - Consecutive rough outings for Kid Fantastic, who still finds sole possession of the MLS rookie goal scoring record just out of reach.
Larin still looks tired. The effort is there, but there looks to be a lack of explosiveness that we saw when he was putting balls into every net he looked at. He had chances to claim the record just before subbing out, but simply couldn't convert. He's got a week to rest and prepare for the Red Bulls -- we'll need everyone at the top of their game for that important late season clash.