Well, Orlando City isn't going undefeated in 2016. And the first loss of the season almost didn't happen tonight. The Lions were staring down the barrel of a 1-1 road draw in icy Philadelphia tonight until Tranquillo Barnetta's unstoppable free kick gave the hosts a 2-1 victory.
The Lions (2-1-2, 8 points) were just moments away from a vital point but just like last year, a set piece did them in. And you could see it coming, as they failed to defend set pieces well all night, although, in fairness, there was nothing anyone could really do about Barnetta's kick. Philadelphia (3-2-0, 9 points) knocks Orlando out of the East's top spot and improves to 2-1-0 against the Lions in three MLS meetings.
The question everyone will be asking is about substitutions. The obviously tired, but shorthanded, Lions (down four starters after midfielder Cristian Higuita picked up a groin injury) were in a good position but were decidedly outplayed after Jim Curtin made two midfield substitutions in the second half. Adrian Heath never countered and from that point on, the Union controlled the game.
Sports can be dumb and make you feel things you'd rather not feel, but here are our grades and Man of the Match from a tough loss in Philly.
GK, Joe Bendik, 7 -- There was nothing he could do about either Philadelphia goal. Was left out to dry by his defense on Sapong's second-minute tally and would have had to have been Superman and Batman rolled into one to even get a touch on Barnetta's late free kick. Despite people moaning on Twitter about how "he didn't try," Bendik is a professional keeper and knew he had no shot. He made a vital save on Chris Pontius in the 38th minute. He also punched away a cross late in the first half that could have created problems just moments after Orlando City tied the match. Second half he stopped a shot from point-blank range with his face. He worked hard for his paycheck tonight.
D, Luke Boden, 6 -- Mixed night for Bodz, who didn't do a whole lot wrong but yet didn't do that much very well, either. Passed at only a 71.7% clip and managed three crosses. Made just one tackle but it was an important one, breaking up an attack by taking the ball from C.J. Sapong after he'd been beaten on the dribble.
D, Seb Hines, 6.5 -- Was easily the best of a very nervy back line but that doesn't mean he played up to the level of Sunday, when he was magnificent. Offensively, Seb got onto some crosses but couldn't get any of his headers on target. On defense, he doesn't look comfortable playing with Aurelien Collin and the two ended up in the same spot on multiple occasions, so perhaps there's simply just not good communication between the two. Managed seven clearances and blocked two shots.
D, Aurelien Collin, 5.5 -- Tied Hines with seven clearances and had a team high five interceptions but it was hardly a good outing for the Frenchman, who nearly duplicated Ramos' early gaffe with a similar one in the second half. He had a few nervous moments with the ball in the box, in defending set pieces, passed at only a 71.1% clip, and and he doesn't look comfortable, although he has only played one and a half games.
D, Rafael Ramos, 3 -- Despite this grade, I feel like I'm being generous. Rafa's early howler led to Sapong's goal, as he touched a Keegan Rosenberry cross right onto the foot of the Union striker. An early cross went out of play on one of Orlando's first forays into Philadelphia territory. His service was generally poor and he tried to bring down a ball in the box that nearly ended up in his own net in the second half. He continues to argue when calls don't go his way, while the play is going on behind him. With his performance this season, it may only be a matter of time before we see Kevin Alston.
MF, Antonio Nocerino, 3.5 -- Wasn't very sharp and gave away a few dangerous turnovers in his own half. At one point in the first half he was seen signaling back and forth with Carrasco, as the two are still learning to get on the same page. He'll wear the goat horns for giving away the free kick late in the game (seconds after Ceren committed a similar foul 10 feet away but the ref played on), but he should have been subbed out as you could see the fatigue. Did send a marvelous ball forward for Kaká in the second half and you can see there is skill, but it's all still coming together for the Italian. That doesn't excuse his dreadful 69.2% passing accuracy, even if four of his seven long balls were accurate.
MF, Darwin Ceren, 5 -- Not the usual performance we get from the Salvadoran. He turned the ball over far too cheaply, conceded two free kicks in his own half and nearly had a third but the ref played on. Didn't come close to goal on his one shot. Generally passed well, but gave the ball up in bad spots a couple of times, too.
MF, Servando Carrasco, 6 -- Spent a lot of the game tracking back and covering for his defenders, blocking crosses and helping clear the box. Made two interceptions, two clearances and passed at an 83% clip. It was a neutral sort of night for Servando, who quietly did his job but nothing spectacular.
MF, Kevin Molino, 6 -- Set up Winter's goal in the 43rd minute with the right pass. Earned free kicks and corners and linked up well both in the attacking half and with right back Rafael Ramos. Like Nocerino, he seemed to tire midway through the second half and was less effective. He passed fairly well at 83.9% but didn't produce as much danger as we've seen so far this year, with only one key pass (on Winter's goal).
MF, Adrian Winter, 7.5 (MOTM) -- Put in his usual workmanlike shift and was rewarded, but also robbed. His finish on the tying goal in the 43rd minute was smooth and on another night he may have earned a lot more fouls for his efforts, but referee Jair Marrufo let the teams play through a lot of contact. Was denied by Andre Blake early in the second half and was absolutely robbed with a late rocket off the volley by a diving Blake. Look for that on your MLS Save of the Week candidates. Winter had five total shots and the only three shots on target for Orlando.
FW, Kaká, 7 -- Lined up in the middle of the front line in a 4-3-3 and, while it's clear he's not a striker, the Brazilian was still vital in the attack, completing a team high 85.7% of his passes. His pass to Molino started the break that led to Winter's goal. Set up Winter with a great chance early in the second. Was second to Winter with four shots but none were on frame. Just not enough help up top for the captain tonight, who worked hard, did a good job in possession and passed well but couldn't produce a moment of true magic on a cold night in Philadelphia.
FW, Julio Baptista (90'), N/A -- "The Beast" made his first appearance for Orlando City but it was far too late to do much of anything other than run a bit.
MF, Carlos Rivas (90'), N/A -- Had one insanely good cross in his three minutes on the pitch, which Winter nearly converted, and would have, if not for a superhuman save by Blake.
Those are my grades. Feel free to yell at me or post your own below and vote in our poll for your Man of the Match.