Interim Head Coach Bobby Murphy rolled the dice with an unconventional lineup that featured 20-year-old defensive midfielder Harrison Heath as the No. 10, little-used left wing Carlos Rivas as a lone striker at the top of his 4-2-3-1, and a DM pairing of two that included Antonio Nocerino for the first time in a while.
It went about as you'd expect when you saw the team sheet. Forget about Cyle Larin's four goals in two trips to Red Bull Arena, let's have some fresh Canadian legs up top for that Western Conference opponent on Saturday!
And the match turned into a bigger nightmare than the 2-0 final score. Brek Shea, sitting on four yellow cards, earned another for dissent. Not something you want to see from your (acting) captain. And something you never want to see is Heath on crutches after the match after sustaining a nasty-looking injury to his right knee.
The Lions were never in position to make a game of it, and didn't register a shot on goal until they were down 2-0 in the second half. As such, do not expect to see very high grades herein.
GK, Joe Bendik 7.5, (MOTM) - Started the game with a huge save on Chris Duvall in the sixth minute. Made a diving save on Bradley Wright-Phillips' free kick in the 55th minute and denied Gonzalo Veron one-on-one in the 68th. His heroics allowed the score line to stay somewhat more respectable than it could have been. Not much he could have done on the Connor Lade goal, as his defense failed to deal with a corner. Could perhaps have positioned his wall better for Felipe's free kick goal, but certainly couldn't have reached it from his starting position.
D, Luke Boden, 4.5 - Not the best night for Bodz, who struggled to provide good service on the offensive end, whether from open play or set pieces. Didn't do enough to clear balls into the box and sometimes lost track of secondary runners. Seemed to work hard, but didn't quite get much accomplished for his efforts.
D, Seb Hines, 6.5 - Made two extremely vital plays in the first half, blocking a Mike Grella shot with his face in the 32nd minute, and cut out a cross labeled for Bradley Wright-Phillips in first-half stoppage time. In addition to two blocked shots, Hines finished with a tackle, four interceptions and three clearances. If there was one thing he struggled with it was passing, at just 66.7%. Played safely all night, blasting balls up field rather than taking time on the ball against New York's high pressure.
D, David Mateos, 6 - A bit more clumsy than Hines and also a tad less careful about conceding fouls or clearing aerial balls. The Spaniard did manage four interceptions and three clearances, like his partner. He did pass the ball better though, finishing with a 75.8% rate.
D, Kevin Alston, 5.5 - Might have covered the most ground of any Lion in the game. His passing accuracy of 87.5% led the back line and was one of the best on the team and he busted his rear end getting up and down the right flank, often to be ignored by his teammates who missed the switch. Finished with three tackles, four interceptions and two clearances and not a single foul. He was culpable on the first goal, being unaware of how much time he had, he conceded a corner unnecessarily that led to Connor Lade's goal. Despite a good passing rate, neither of his crosses were very good, though he did have one key pass. A solid night for Kevin that he can hopefully build on.
MF, Antonio Nocerino, 4.5 - The best thing that can be said about the Italian's performance is that it didn't hurt the team, even if it wasn't entirely helpful either. He did manage a tackle and three interceptions defensively, but his passing rate of 76.5% could have been better. Seems to be getting more comfortable after a decent showing in U.S. Open Cup and not having a nightmarish outing tonight, but there's still a way to go.
MF, Cristian Higuita, 6.5 - Kind of a typical night for Cristian, who passed at a team high 88.1% (minimum 45 minutes played), completing all four of his long balls. He had two tackles and led the team with six interceptions. However, he was dispossessed three times -- second only to Kevin Molino and sometimes stood still while waiting for a pass to arrive, allowing New York players to step in front and take it. That kind of lazy play doesn't show up on the stat sheet unless you count the lopsided possession numbers. He also took yet another yellow card.
MF, Brek Shea, 4 - He was the only Lion to get a shot off in the first half, although both his efforts were blocked. Earned an early free kick and showed good hustle but he did lose Duvall to set up a great opportunity for the Red Bulls early. Took a silly yellow card for dissent in the 52nd that will keep him out of Saturday's match at Vancouver. Turned the ball over in his own half in the 58th and then compounded the error by conceding a free kick just outside the box that New York scored on. Won two free kicks in decent spots but conceded four. Not the best night for Brek, who managed the fewest touches of any non-goalkeeper to play 90 minutes.
MF, Harrison Heath, 4 - Not a great night for H, who left the game with an apparent right knee injury at halftime. At the time, he was completing only 55.6% of his passes and had touched the ball only 15 times. One of those was a nightmarish bad touch that started a counter attack in the 21st minute. He did manage to earn a free kick in a good spot in the 30th, but overall just not as much quality as on Friday from H. Hopefully his injury isn't too serious.
MF, Kevin Molino, 4 - Yeah, longtime Lions fans will hate this score, but I don't think this was a very good night for the Trinidadian, who often disappeared in this game. He completed a good amount of his passes (81.6%) and had four key passes, but a lot of his movement was backward or sideways and not challenging defenders. In addition, he was dispossessed a team-high four times and not only led the team in bad touches (8), but had more than twice as many as anyone else on the team. Passed up at least one decent look at goal to make an extra pass and registered no shots. That can't happen when you're being counted on for offense. His best contribution was sending Larin in on a 1-v-1, but it wasn't enough from The Original.
F, Carlos Rivas, 2.5 - The Colombian is simply not wired to play an isolated striker role in MLS. He was useless on balls in the air due to his height disadvantage, so everything above his waist was a turnover either by the defender winning it or from Rivas fouling to try to win it. He was also continually offside by either mistiming his runs or being lazy about getting back on. (Officially he was offside twice but that's only because he let the ball go a couple other times to avoid the whistle.) It was a wasted start for Rivas, who may have been able to offer more from the left wing. He had a terrible heavy touch on a 30th-minute free kick pass attempt for Boden. In 59 minutes he had just 15 touches and even though he completed 80% of his passes, that was only on five attempts. When he was subbed off in the second half, I'm not even sure he'd touched the ball after the break.
MF, Darwin Ceren, (45') 5 - Came on for Heath at the break and managed to temporarily inject some life into the match for Orlando. He put the Lions' first shot on goal with a long distance try in the 61st minute and had his typical good passing rate (83.9%) with four of five accurate long balls, but conceded several free kicks seemingly without needing to do so.
F, Cyle Larin (60') 4.5 - In 30+ minutes, Larin got only 13 touches but he did attempt two shots, getting one on frame. For the first time, he failed to score a goal at Red Bull Arena, but he didn't really get many opportunities coming on as late as he did. He made his runs and battled in the box, but often the play broke down before anyone could get him the ball. He might have done better to shoot high when in alone on Luis Robles in the 76th minute, but in fairness it did take a great save to deny the Canadian a goal.
MF/F, Julio Baptista (65'), 5.5 - Put on in an effort to chase the game, The Beast put in a solid 25 minutes. He had one shot on target, completed 93.3% of his passes and played one long ball, which was accurate. He managed 18 touches in his 25 minutes, which is more than Rivas or Heath managed, staying involved in the game.
Well, that's the way I saw the game. Tell us how you rated the Lions tonight and vote for your Man of the Match below.