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Orlando City vs. New York City FC: Player Grades and Man of the Match

How did your favorite Lions rate in a 2-1 home victory over the soccer Yankees? Here are our player grades and man of the match. Vote for yours in our poll.

MLS: New York City FC at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Can’t we just play New York City FC all the time? By beating our fellow 2015 MLS expansion club 2-1 tonight, the Lions got their first win since July 31, snapping a four-game winless streak (0-2-2) and a two-game home losing streak. It’ll definitely make Monday feel better, as Orlando City is improbably still in the playoff race in the Eastern Conference.

New York City entered as the fresher and much hotter team, but the visitors failed to get much of a toehold on the game until the waning minutes when the Lions parked the bus a bit down the stretch. Orlando finished 2-0-1 against NYCFC this season and is 3-1-2 against the soccer Yankees in the all-time series.

Now, let’s get on with the individual performances.

Starters

GK, Joe Bendik, 6.5 – New York didn’t trouble Joe much until the second half. Neither of NYCFC’s two first-half shots were on target, but the Baby Blues were sharper in the attack after the break. Bendik’s three saves in the second half were all quite good he had to be quick off his line to beat David Villa to a late through ball, and he made two vital punches and caught one cross. However, he put his team in a bad spot on the goal by Steven Mendoza by deflecting the ball out in front rather than out to the side.

D, Luke Boden, 5.5 – Bodz started a bit slowly but seemed to get stronger as the game wore on, despite this being the third game in nine days. His passing stat line looks a bit pedestrian, at 72.2% accuracy, with only one of four accurate crosses and one of four accurate long balls, but he played a sound defensive game and got forward when he could to win corners and trouble New York City’s wide players. He finished with two tackles, an interception, and a clearance. He had one key pass, created one chance, and took a shot, but it was off target. Limited New York City’s effectiveness down the right offensive channel.

D, David Mateos, 7 – I thought this was a strong game from the Spaniard, like his game at Colorado. Defensively, he finished with one tackle, three interceptions, a clearance, and a blocked shot, but he did commit three fouls. He broke up a developing two-on-one break in the box in the 78th minute to preserve Orlando’s lead. Offensively, he completed 92.1% of his passes and nine of his 12 long balls were accurate. He even made a heads-up play to get forward to create a three-on-two counter attack off a set piece, although it eventually broke down. He tied Boden for the team’s most touches on the night (67), and rarely put a foot wrong.

D, Jose Aja, 7 – In only his second MLS start, the Uruguayan put in a solid shift against an outstanding offensive team. He led the back line with 93.3% passing, four interceptions, and six clearances. He also won two aerials, had one tackle, and blocked a shot. Nine of his 11 long balls were accurate. Most importantly, he and Mateos did a good job of not only cutting off the first New York attacker – usually David Villa, Tommy McNamara, and Steven Mendoza, but the duo also seemed aware of guys like Frank Lampard, making secondary runs into the area.

D, Tommy Redding, 6 – In a bit of an experiment, Redding started at right back, spelling Kevin Alston, who has rarely got a minute off in months. Redding was solid, if unspectacular, offering very little going forward, but helping keep the New York attack quiet. He completed 92.6% of his passes and two of his long balls were accuate. Defensively, he finished with two tackles, two interceptions, and two clearances. After halftime, NYCFC made more of an effort to attack his side of the field and found a bit more success crossing in from their attacking left side, prompting Jason Kreis to bring Alston on.

MF, Servando Carrasco, 5 – In my opinion, Serva was a bit off in this game – not terribly, but a bit. He offered little moving forward and failed to join the attack as expected a few times, leading to errant passes into areas in which his teammates expected him to run. His 85.4% passing accuracy was decent, but only three of his seven long balls were accurate, he created no real chances, and took no shots. Defensively, he posted one clearance, one interception, and one tackle. He did make one fantastic play on a takeaway from Ronald Matarrita at the corner of the penalty area and jump-started an Orlando City counter. Maybe his most important contribution was getting to a corner kick first and drawing a foul to alleviate pressure on the Orlando goal. Aside from those two plays, I didn't see as much from Servando tonight as I'm used to.

MF, Antonio Nocerino, 6.5 – The Italian continues to blossom under Jason Kreis, leading the club with a passing accuracy of 94.9% (OK, Brek Shea had 100% accuracy but he only passed it twice). Nocerino did a good job of jumping into passing lanes, forcing attackers back or to the sideline, and linking the back line with the attacking midfield. He had one key pass to create a chance, played a pivotal role in the first Orlando City goal, and racked up four interceptions, a clearance, and a tackle. He even took one for the team when he was booked for standing over the ball to prevent a quick restart on a free kick.

MF, Kaká, 7.5 (MOTM) – I’ll be honest. Without the two goals, the captain’s score wouldn’t be this high. He started the game slowly, dribbling into trouble a few times and giving the ball away with poorly weighted passes. But his determination on the first goal was vintage Kaká. He wouldn’t be denied in rounding Jefferson Mena and firing on goal from a tight angle, following his shot to score on his own rebound. He led Orlando City in shots (4) and shots on target (3), and not only scored the penalty kick, but also drew the foul that set it up. His passing (84.1%) was a bit better than it’s been in recent games. He had no accurate crosses on two attempts, registered no defensive stats whatsoever, and had no key passes. Still, he put the ball in the back of the net, and that’s what wins games.

MF, Matias Perez Garcia, 7.5 – MPG was the best man on the pitch most of the night. Without his defensive play and his pass wide to Kaká, the first goal would never have happened. He was superb at winning back possession on the night, with a team-high three tackles and an interception. He created two chances, completed 83.9% of his passes, took one shot, and drew two fouls. Moreover, his hustle and tenacity was contagious and he continues to combine better and better with his teammates.

MF, Kevin Molino, 5.5 – It pains me not to be able to put a higher score here. The Original had chances for heroics and to put the game out of reach. At 75.6%, he had the lowest midfield passing accuracy and had no accurate crosses on the night. He muffed a chance to get onto a Boden cross and the deflection took the ball out of reach for Cyle Larin as well. Later, he worked his way past goalkeeper Josh Saunders, then sent a soft shot at the empty net that allowed Ronald Matarrita to make a sliding save on. He was dispossessed three times but he also made three tackles to tie MPG for the most on the team.

F, Cyle Larin, 4.5 – I’ll take the heat for this grade again. The Canadian international is showing signs of fatigue after all the minutes he’s racking up, but to his credit, he worked hard to get into dangerous spots. Things just aren’t falling for him and his teammates seem unable to get him the ball, either through poor crossing or expecting the wrong run. Larin failed to register a shot and was dispossessed a game-high seven times, managing only 31 touches. He had the ball taken off his foot by Matarrita on a clear breakaway in the 86th minute. His passing accuracy was just 64.3%. Defensively, he chipped in two clearances and an interception.

Substitutes

D, Kevin Alston (56’), 6.5 – Kevin got a rest tonight and man did he look fresh in the second half . He earned his team a corner in the 60th minute with a hustle play on a nice forward run. His passing accuracy (60%) looks ba until you consider he only had five attempts. Finished with two tackles and blocked a Jack Harrison cross in the 92nd minute.

MF, Tony Rocha (68’), 5.5 – Tony came on to provide more defensive help for the final 22 minutes and didn’t get too much accomplished. He had one interception and completed four of his five passes with 11 total touches. It may have been confusing to come on for an offensive player, entering the game for Matias Perez Garcia.

MF, Brek Shea (74’), 3.5 – It’s very difficult to grade Brek for this game. He came on early enough that I can’t give him an N/A score, yet he managed only two touches of the ball in his 16 minutes. He completed both of his passes, which is good, I guess. But he registered zero stats of any kind, aside from one foul committed. He came on for Kaká, which may be one of the more bizarre substitutions we’ve seen in the team’s first two years, but Orlando City held on, so I guess you’d say it was more successful than not. Still, two touches in 16 minutes? Woof.

That’s how I saw tonight’s performances. Let us know what you thought below and be sure to vote for your Orlando City Man of the Match.