Orlando City’s first road match of the season was a tough one as the Lions fell to the Columbus Crew, 2-0. For a defense that was so promising to start the campaign, the back line struggled to contain a potent Crew attack at times. It’s not easy to win away from home in MLS, and Orlando certainly proved that today, looking a shadow of the team that took six points in its first two matches.
Here are the grades:
GK, Joe Bendik, 5 — The defense left him out to dry early on, forcing him into a few solo situations with Columbus attackers. He stopped Ola Kamara, who was flagged as offside, but couldn’t duplicate it against Justin Meram, who beat Joe to his left. Meram’s second would have been just as tough for Joe to get to; he did the best he could with what he was given.
D, Will Johnson, 4.5 — His third start at fullback was easily his worst. He was nonexistent for Meram’s first goal and struggled to keep up on the defensive end. When he finally switched back to midfield, his play improved dramatically. He had some of Orlando’s best chances in the final 10 minutes (he led the team with four shots) but couldn’t turn them toward goal. Hopefully next week we’ll see more of Will in midfield.
D, Jonathan Spector, 4.5 — Credit to Spector for being one of the only Lions defenders that played to the whistle on Columbus’ first goal. His sliding challenge wasn’t enough to prevent the inevitable, but the defense as a unit struggled for most of the afternoon. Spector made his fair share of challenges and saving tackles, but it was definitely an off-night for him after some stellar play in the last two matches.
D, Jose Aja, 4 — It wasn’t Aja’s best outing in purple. He and the rest of the back line were consistently tested by the Crew and were often bailed out by the linesman’s flag. Bad went to worse as he exited with a hamstring issue just before halftime and he didn’t have an opportunity to redeem himself after a collectively poor half.
D, Donny Toia, 5.5 — Toia had the best of Orlando City’s opportunities in the first half but the fullback couldn’t make them count. He managed to keep Ethan Finlay at bay for the majority of the match while the Crew did most of their damage through Meram and Ola Kamara. Donny got forward well and did what he could all along the left sideline. The veteran fullback continues to be a solid solo defender, if not a threatening presence on offense.
MF, Servando Carrasco, 4.5 — Servando was hard-done with the booking, but he struggled to make an impact before being taken off. Central midfield was overrun for much of the game. Even though he managed to connect on most of his passes, the majority were lateral or backward. He managed to record two tackles, but couldn’t hold his own against the talented attack of Columbus.
MF, Antonio Nocerino, 5 — Nocerino had similar problems to Carrasco, though he was the more positive of the two going forward. It was a sloppy afternoon for the Italian with a few crucial miscues that cost the Lions. Nocerino managed to snag a trio of interceptions and won the ball high up the field in a few instances, but he also gave the ball up cheaply several times.
MF, Matias Perez Garcia, 5 — MPG just couldn’t get anything going this afternoon. His touches in the final third failed to connect, his shot was high over the crossbar. When he got the ball on the counter, he often rushed in without support and was swarmed, losing possession.
MF, Giles Barnes, 6.5 (MotM) — Barnes was the only consistent threat on the offensive end. He ran at defenders, set up his teammates, and had a few goes at goal for himself. Barnes was the only spark for an otherwise lackluster Orlando attack, moving all over the field to try and jump start something. Sent Larin down the left side of the box in the 51st but the Canadian chose to cross instead of shooting. It was futile in the end, but it was another positive showing for Orlando’s newest Designated Player.
F, Carlos Rivas, 5 — The biggest question surrounding Rivas at this point in his career is his consistency. After two great performances to start the year, he fell off in this one. He couldn’t find space to stretch the defense and didn’t have that same creativity we’ve seen from him so far this season. He managed to whip in some of his classic crosses — especially when he was pushed out wide at the end of the match — but we also saw him sky a few balls over the crossbar again.
F, Cyle Larin, 6 — The first half showed some worrying signs of seasons past with Larin growing frustrated and walking back onside. He made up for it in the second half and looked good on the ball, trying to create some things for his teammates. Cyle ended with a disappointing single shot on goal and ended his scoring run at two games.
D, Tommy Redding (43’), 5.5 — The defense didn’t get burned quite as often as it did in the first half, but still struggled to contain the Crew’s attack. Tommy made a couple of clutch tackles that kept things from getting out of hand and stayed composed on the ball.
MF, Cristian Higuita (62’), 5.5 — There wasn’t much energy in midfield until Higuita made his appearance just after the hour mark. He made his presence known in both attack and defense, but couldn’t provide the right touch. His giveaway in midfield on an off-target pass intended for Nocerino sparked the Crew’s second goal, but he was the biggest presence in central midfield for Orlando all afternoon.
D, Scott Sutter (71’), 4 — The Swiss international finally made his debut but it wasn’t pretty. Justin Meram nearly toppled him over for his second goal of the match. He also let a few crosses fly in that made life tough in the penalty area in the short time he was on.
That’s how I saw this afternoon’s match. Let us know what you thought below and be sure to vote for your Orlando City Man of the Match.
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