The Lions have been victimized on the counter-attack many times this inaugural Major League Soccer season. So it was highly satisfying to see Orlando City flip the tables and become the clinical team on the rush.
Carlos Rivas and Kaká kept feeding Cyle Larin and the Canadian international kept putting them in the back of the net. The five goals is a new club MLS record for a road game, breaking the old mark of three set at Chicago in June and equaled at New York City FC.
Here are my player grades from Orlando City's third consecutive victory (feels good to say that):
GK, Tally Hall, 6.5 - Hall made three saves on the night and couldn't do much about the two goals allowed, but I thought he had a chance to get to a few more of those aerial balls that became more dangerous than they needed to be as a result of letting them go. Hall still had a fairly good game, but it wasn't vintage Tally.
D, Luke Boden, 6 - A mixed night for Bodz, who was asked to shift into an unfamiliar position when Seb Hines was stretchered off. Had a bad early turnover at left back in the 21st but Hines bailed him out with a tackle of Lloyd Sam in the box. Completely lost track of Sam on the second goal. Aside from that, it was a hard-fought shift from Boden who was calm on the ball and looked to clear his lines whenever possible.
D, Aurelien Collin, 7 - Big No. 78 had his hands full marking New York's attack but he did an admirable job. Was very calm and tried to keep the back line organized with Hines early on and later with Boden next to him. It would have been very easy for the makeshift back line to get disorganized but Collin didn't let that happen. He was a leader in the back, with the most touches, clearances and interceptions of the back four.
D, Seb Hines, 7 - An unfortunately short night for Hines, who was carried off the pitch after New York scored off a set piece. He was caught in a collision between two attackers and went down hard on his shoulder. While on the pitch, Hines was solid and snuffed out a Lloyd Sam attack in the box in the 21st minute after Boden's turnover. Completed 82% of his passes and had three long balls in his 33 minutes.
D, Rafael Ramos, 7.5 - Four clearances, three blocked shots and two interceptions for Rafa, who kept Mike Grella relatively quiet and held his ground when one-on-one out wide. Used his speed well defensively. A few misplaced passes and a lack of offensive threat keep his score from being even higher.
MF, Cristian Higuita, 8 - Showed incredible hustle after having a shot blocked in the 43rd minute, tracking all the way back to help with a tackle just above his own penalty area to start the sequence that resulted in Cyle Larin's second goal. Will unfortunately miss the Montreal match after picking up a yellow card on a mis-timed tackle attempt from behind Sacha Kljestan in the 28th. Higuita just continues to impress, with four tackles, two interceptions and two clearances to go with 92.1% passing accuracy. Drew a game-high five fouls.
MF, Darwin Ceren, 7.5 - The El Salvadoran was all over the pitch. He got on the ball everywhere, making a team-high 51 passes and completing 86% of them. Three interceptions and three clearances. I may be being picky, but I deducted half a point for a number of late decisions that kept him from either completing a pass or intercepting one. Could just be a matter of getting his timing back after being out, but a solid night.
MF/LB, Brek Shea, 7 - Three games and three wins since Shea returned. Was forced to reprise his role at left back after Hines was subbed out for Carlos Rivas. Tied Collin with a team-high five interceptions with two clearances and a blocked shot. Started the play that resulted in Cyle Larin's third goal with a gorgeous outlet to Rivas. Helped Orlando withstand a lot of pressure from Sam and Shaun Wright-Phillips.
MF, Kaká, 7.5 - The captain's return was a good one. Aside from missing the net with his shot attempts (none of the four found the target), it was a solid game. Showed great hustle and leadership and was more active defensively than we've seen in awhile. Led the team with 94% passing accuracy and had a team-high five key passes, adding two assists -- including a perfect service to Larin for the game's first goal and a touch pass to Bryan Rochez for the final tally.
MF, Lewis Neal, 5.5 - Another typical Lewis Neal outing. Was a step slow to break up some of New York's midfield play and didn't do much terribly dangerous on the offensive end, although he did put himself in a good spot in the 48th for a Cyle Larin cross but a deflection allowed Robles to collect it.
F, Cyle Larin, 8.5 (MOTM) - The Canadian scored a hat trick and forced a Damien Perrinelle own-goal with his presence. Three shots, three goals. That's clinical finishing and he mostly made the right runs with the exception of one time with Kaká leading the break. Didn't seem to have the rubber legs of the last match. Was a difference maker, completing 83% of his passes, made two key passes...oh, and set the MLS rookie goal scoring mark in style, becoming the first player in league history to net two hat tricks his rookie year.
LW, Carlos Rivas (34'), 8 - It wasn't a perfect night for the Colombian, who finished the night with two brilliant assists plus the cross that forced the own goal by Damien Perrinelle. He was a deadly force on Orlando City's counter attack, but he continues to rush his shots (shooting from too far away on one occasion when he could have been in all alone on Luis Robles) or right at the goalkeeper. He also made a few rash challenges and had at least one cheap giveaway. Still, he was such a menace offensively that we'll forgive that tonight.
MF, Adrian Winter (65'), 5.5 - It was a tough 25 or so minutes for Winter, who squibbed a shot well high and played a few passes too late and got them intercepted as a result. Still, he worked hard during his shift and generally got in the way defensively as New York looked for a way back into the match.
MF, Bryan Rochez (76'), 8 - What an eventful 14 minutes for the Honduran U-20 star. Rochez came on and immediately got involved, getting behind Matt Miazga in the 77th and forcing the Red Bulls defender to grab him from behind, earning him a second yellow and a sending off. Was active in the counter attack and finished calmly in the 93rd minute to extend his goal-scoring streak to three games.