It was a difficult game with all of the midweek distraction of Adrian Heath's firing and a short turnaround on three days rest against a Houston team that has been much better in recent weeks. It would be easy for the Lions to simply roll over and get ready for the new coach that the club is searching for.
But, to Bobby Murphy's credit, he had the lads in purple prepared to play. Despite a lack of precision in the final third, Orlando City played a pretty solid game from start to finish, ending the game with 62.8% of the possession and an 84.5% passing success rate. It was only in the final third where the field is most congested that things broke down a bit.
Houston was unable to mount much of an attack or keep the ball, but the Dynamo were occasionally dangerous on the counter. When they were, Joe Bendik was there, as was the post in the 88th minute. In the end, it was just another draw -- the team's ninth on the season.
Let's get to tonight's player grades.
G, Joe Bendik, 7.5 - He only finished with three saves but Bendik had to be sharp on all of them. From Alex's 21st-minute effort to a pair of dangerous Will Bruin chances late in the first half, including a diving save that just brushed the ball a smidge wide. Second clean sheet of the season for Joe, and first since the third game of the year.
D, Luke Boden, 5.5 - Bodz got a bit better as the game wore on but he struggled with the quality of his set pieces, especially corner kicks. He completed a respectable 87.7% of his passes, but that can be misleading, as much of his distribution was across the back or short passes to Shea -- many of which were immediately returned, which is illustrated by his game-high 96 touches. He was much better than Monday, however, so perhaps it's something he can build on.
D, Seb Hines, 6 - With the exception of one horrendous giveaway that started a counter, and one long run by Boniek Garcia on which he and David Mateos didn't communicate properly, it was a solid night for Seb. He completed 86.7% of his passes, got a head on a very difficult cross to at least get a shot attempt out of it, and made two tackles, while sticking to his mark on set pieces.
D, David Mateos, 7 - The Spaniard is a favorite punching bag for fans but it was a good night for David. He was second on the team with 90 touches, completed a game-high 94.7% of his passes (minimum 10 attempts), and played in several nice long balls that probably should have connected. He made three tackles to lead the defense.
D, Kevin Alston, 5 - Kevin had problems with his offensive delivery but he still managed a very solid 93.3% passing rate overall. He still has an issue or two per game with losing track of the weak side attacker although he did well to challenge players and force them to move laterally tonight, giving them a lower percentage shot.
MF, Harrison Heath, 7.5 - A very solid performance on what had to be an emotional night for H. He led all non-defenders in passing rate (88%), created a chance offensively, and made a few well-timed runs to try to get forward. He provided good coverage behind the attacking midfield and helped link the play in the middle of the pitch.
MF, Cristian Higuita, 7.5 (MOTM) - The Colombian led all Lions with five tackles and completed 81% of his passes. He was not only his usual effective presence in central midfield, but Higuita also did more of the heavy lifting in getting the ball forward into the attacking third. Although he usually struggles to complete passes on the offensive half of the field, tonight he was able to feed the ball in to Kevin Molino, Brek Shea, Cyle Larin and Darwin Ceren. Just slightly better defensively for me, so he edges H for my Man of the Match.
MF, Brek Shea, 7 - In the early going, Brek struggled to get going, but as the game wore on he got stronger. He made seven crosses on the night and several of those required timely and precise touches by the defense to keep them away from Larin running into the box. He struggled a bit with his passing (75%) but most of those were attacking attempts, as Brek seemed loathe to drop the ball backward.
MF, Kevin Molino, 6 - Provided a moment of magic that just about turned into the game-winning goal early in the second half, running through several defenders to get clear and attempt a chip shot on target. Unfortunately, Deric saved that shot. Aside from that, Molino completed 76.5% of his passes and could never quite find the final through ball for his teammates. He had two of Orlando's six shots and the only one on target, but he lost the ball frequently in traffic and almost entirely disappeared after Julio Baptista came on, pushing the Trinidadian to the right side.
MF, Darwin Ceren, 5.5 - Darwin is a lot of things, but a right wing is not one of them. He lacked quality in the final third, though that is belied by his completing 83.3% of his passes. The main goal of having him play there was to put an additional difficult defender in front of Houston fullback DaMarcus Beasley, and that seemed to work, as the former U.S. international was fairly quiet all night on the attacking end.
F, Cyle Larin, 5 - The Canadian had 34 touches, which is 22 more than he had Monday night. Larin worked hard to get into dangerous positions but ran afoul of the offside flag several times, although I have an issue with at least one or two of those. He managed to get two shot attempts with an early dangerous opportunity that he fired wide with his left foot. Was forced to battle both David Horst and Raul Rodriguez most of the night in isolation, which limited his effectiveness.
D, Julio Baptista (60'), 4.5 - The Beast wasn't able to leave much of a mark on the game after coming in for Ceren, although he did have one shot attempt and earned a free kick in a dangerous area. He had only 18 touches in his 30+ minutes and completed 77.8% of his passes.
MF, Servando Carrasco (88'), N/A - Serva came on for Harrison Heath near the end and registered only six touches. Not much time to get involved.
That's how I saw the Lions' performances tonight. Don't forget to vote for your Man of the Match in our poll below.