Orlando City finally got back into the win column with a 2-1 win over Montreal. Impact fans may feel a bit salty about not getting an offside call on Cyle Larin on the last goal and Mauro Biello certainly disagreed about the foul call that led to the first, but if all of the early season bad calls (and bad no-calls) that cost the Lions points are going to even out over the long haul, it's got to start somewhere, and I'm certainly not going to feel bad for anyone over it.
The Lions started the match kind of a mess, and Montreal did grab a much deserved early lead. But as the game wore on, a funny thing happened -- Orlando City started to play as a team. Adrian Heath promised lineup changes and we got them. He put Cristian Higuita and Servando Carrasco in the central midfield above his back line and went with an attacking midfield of Carlos Rivas, Kaká, and Adrian Winter, pushing Antonio Nocerino and Kevin Molino to the bench. Seb Hines returned to the starting lineup but his night ended early with another knock.
I had a lot of very low ratings running through my head for the first half hour of the match, but now some of these will probably be scoffed at as too high. That's OK. These are my grades and disagreement isn't a bad thing. Let's get to those player ratings.
G, Joe Bendik, 9 (MOTM) - Another sparkling outing for the former Toronto FC man, who made some key saves in the second half, including somehow stopping a deflected shot one-handed while moving the other direction. He came off his line twice to prevent dangerous chances for Montreal and finished with six saves on the seven Montreal shots on goal, including a huge save in the 71st on Oduro. The only one he couldn't keep out took a deflection and he could do nothing about it. Kept the game level long enough for the Lions to find a late winner.
D, Brek Shea, 5 - He spent much of the first half trying to get booked (and eventually succeeding in the 41st minute), getting a lecture in the 11th and 29th minutes from referee Mark Geiger. Venegas flopped in the 40th to try to get him booked, and succeeded, but the left back should never have gone after the Montreal player, after having already won the free kick. Should have scored off a cross in the 51st minute but the ball went between his legs as he attacked the net. Worked well with Rivas down the left, though, so it wasn't all bad for Brek.
D, David Mateos, 7 - Solid if unspectacular night for the Spaniard. Headed away a free kick in the 24th minute. Worked well with both Seb Hines and Tommy Redding, teaming up to keep Oduro and Piatti from getting many quality looks. Completed 87.2% of his passes and completed five of his seven long balls.
D, Seb Hines, 7 - Was having a good night before leaving in the 40th minute with a knock. Completed 94.7% of his passes and all five long balls were accurate. Stopped Oduro in the open field just moments before Piatti opened the scoring. Dispossessed Lucas Ontivero in the 30th off a free kick to clear the danger.
D, Rafael Ramos, 3 - Before leaving with an apparent hamstring injury in the 34th minute, the Portuguese youth international was having somewhat of a nightmare game. He was beaten on Ignacio Piatti's goal in the fourth minute, he allowed a free kick with an unnecessary foul in the corner, and Dominic Oduro also beat him in the 15th minute, before having his cross deflected. Speaking of deflected crosses, neither of his were accurate. Ramos had one blocked and mishit another. Just a tough night all around for the youngster.
MF, Servando Carrasco, 6.5 - Started the match a bit tough, deflecting the Piatti shot that beat Bendik and taking a couple rough challenges, but came into the game as it wore on. He completed 80% of his passes and two of his five long balls were accurate. He finished with two tackles, two clearances, three interceptions and a blocked shot and helped Higuita lock down the middle of the pitch just above the back line.
MF, Cristian Higuita, 7 - Led the team in tackles (6), interceptions (6) and clearances (5) and completed 86.2% of his passes. Tracked back in the 33rd off a Ramos turnover to thwart the counter attack. Was better in the air than usual, getting his head on a few of Montreal's set piece crosses to clear the danger. I have to mark him down a bit for taking a silly yellow card for dissent when a call went against him in the 53rd after he thought he'd dispossessed Piatti cleanly.
MF, Carlos Rivas, 5.5 - It was a night of almosts for the Colombian, who may have been a tad rusty after not seeing the field much recently. Used his speed to get up the left wing and create havoc but only three of his team-high nine crosses were accurate. Nearly served up an easy goal for Baptista, but the pass was just off. Came close to an Olimpico on a corner kick but it was cleared by Montreal. Completed just 66.7% of his passes and took an unnecessary yellow card for kicking the ball away to keep Montreal from playing quickly. Made a bad play going for goal in the 89th from a bad angle rather than heading to the corner to waste some valuable seconds. He was an agent of chaos, but that's not always a bad thing.
MF, Kaká, 8 - If not for some slight disappearances in the opening 20 or 25 minutes, this could have been an even better night for the captain. Assisted on both of Larin's goals and took three shots, forcing a save on one. Got in alone on goal and Wandrille Lefevre had to be perfect on his tackle to avoid a penalty. Led the team with four key passes. Really asserted himself in the game starting late in the first half and willed his team to victory.
MF, Adrian Winter, 6 - Typical hustle game for Winter but he didn't really get into dangerous spaces with the ball, had only one key pass, and didn't get any attempts at goal. Earned an early yellow card with a couple of crunching tackles and settled down after that. Managed only 25 touches in his 74 minutes.
F, Cyle Larin, 8.5 - Scored one with his head and one with his foot, and got into dangerous spaces all night. He earned the free kick that led to his first goal, sprinting up the left sideline. Lefevre got the ball cleanly on the slide tackle but raised his boots and took down the Canadian. Three of his game-high five shots were on target, including a header at Evan Bush in the 75th minute and the two goals. It wasn't a perfect night, as he took a heavy touch in the clear in the 55th and shot just wide from a poor angle instead of squaring the ball to an open teammate for the easy goal. Still, a good night for Kid Fantastic, who got his first multi-goal game of the season.
D, Kevin Alston (34'), 7 - Subbing in for the injured Ramos in the first half, Alston showed well in the game. Adrian Heath called his efforts "smashing" after the match. He missed on a few passes and long balls, and he took a yellow after getting beat by Piatti in the 66th, but defended well overall and was an attacking presence. His wicked cross in the 87th had to be punched away by Bush.
D, Tommy Redding (40'), 7.5 - Spelled Hines and picked up where the starter left off with a fantastic performance. His vital tackle on Piatti in the box in the 73rd minute had to be perfect and it was. In the 80th, he shut down Michael Salazar's bid to get past and into the box with a neat tackle. Finished with only three tackles but all were 1-v-1 and kept Montreal from generating a dangerous chance. He also completed 86.7% of his passes and both of his long balls were accurate. His positioning wasn't always perfect but the youngster played well.
MF, Julio Baptista (75'), 6 - It wasn't the best outing for The Beast until his gorgeous chip to Kaká set the winning goal in motion, although he did complete 85.7% of his passes. Fell in the box on a Rivas cross while trying to reset his feet to get a shot off. Attempted one shot but it was off target.
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Those are my grades for the Lions' skid-snapping win over Montreal. Please vote for your Orlando City Man of the Match in the poll below and let me know what your ratings were.