It may have taken three games, but damn, do three points feel good. Orlando City fought off the high-powered New York City FC attack for just over 90 minutes to hold on to the clean sheet in a thrilling 1-0 victory. It may be (extremely) early, but you can't hate being one point out of first, no matter the date on the calendar.
There were several good performances, but some downers as well. How does the stock watch look upon your favorite Lion's performance?
Cristian Higuita - The midfield was buzzing defensively in this one and Cristian led the charge, channeling his trademark intensity beautifully to the tune of 13 tackles. Read that again. Thirteen tackles. A consistent nuisance to the NYCFC attacking threats, he was just as important in Orlando's own offensive attempts, completing 90.7% of his passes.
A longtime favorite of the Stock Watch since its inception, Higuita didn't set the world on fire against Chicago. This, however, was the kind of performance that had me constantly singing his praises last season.
Let's hope to see more of the same from the Deportivo Cali expat moving forward.
Darwin Cerén - Higuita's longtime tag-team partner in the middle was effective as well, refusing to let the sting of an opening day red card ruin his form early. While his passing wasn't quite as accurate as usual at 75%, Cerén was just as important as Higuita working defensively. With five tackles and tying the team lead in interceptions (5) and clearances (7), the El Salvador captain is reminding the league of the influence he can have on the pitch.
He and Higuita combined for 133 of the club's 564 touches, or just under 25%. If captain Kaká isn't on the pitch, these two need to continue being the pulse of this team.
Honorable Mention - Joe Bendik. Helluva game for the new keeper, that's the kind of quality we love to see in net.
Antonio Nocerino - I have been reluctant to be hard on Nocerino, and I don't intend to change that stance here. The truth is, only 14 people played in this game, and not everyone can see their stock rise.
Nocerino has said he would need more time to really get his legs under him, and I am more than willing to give him that time. However, we aren't talking about his performance three weeks from now in this space, we're talking about his performance last Friday. And it was not what we expect to see moving forward.
27 touches, 19 passes, only 73.7% completed. Neither of his two crosses could find a forehead, and he did not register a defensive statistic.
The man is certainly talented. We patiently wait for that talent to shine through in purple.
Adrian Winter - This was certainly Winter's least impressive effort of the still-young season. While his energy was -- and consistently is -- at an impressive level, the results it brought were not as beneficial as in games past.
An efficiency black hole, Winter managed to complete just 53.9% of his passes, missing on both his crosses and all four long attempts.
We know what Winter can do when put in position to maximize his skill set. Here, I believe we see what he can't do when he is not.