Orlando City remains perfect at its new home after a 2-1 win over the Galaxy, and showed tremendous resolve to battle back from the LA Galaxy’s late equalizer. The team responded immediately after the visitors leveled the game and started creating chances to snatch all three points and that’s exactly what happened. This team simply has an entirely different demeanor in 2017 and there’s a real belief in games, rather than an impending dread that something bad will happen.
The Lions will head to New York City FC next weekend for only their second road match of the year, but before we start talking about that match, let’s rate the individual performances in what was a solid team victory.
GK, Joe Bendik, 7 – Joe couldn’t do much about Romain Alessandrini’s goal, which was a rocket off the inside of the right post. But he finished with five saves on the day and a few of them were not the easy kind. His best save came in the 77th off a Gio dos Santos attempt that he got his fingertips on to keep the Galaxy off the board to that point. He had another good save in the 70th off a Gyasi Zardes attempt. He came off his line to win a cross in front of Alessandrini by sheer force of will in the 93rd minute and showed the fire we saw after his late save against Philadelphia. All in all, Bendik commanded his box and stopped everything he could get a hand on and that’s all you can ask of your keeper, but I’m knocking half a point off for his 27.3% passing accuracy.
D, Donny Toia, 7.5 – Toia led Orlando City with seven tackles and tied Tommy Redding with a team-high five clearances as he did well to deny Alessandrini the space he likes to attack down the right side of LA’s offense. Alessandrini didn’t start to have true success until he started playing more centrally, as Toia mostly held the DP at bay. Toia also passed well (82.1%) but he did concede three fouls, but that includes a head-scratcher because he was run over in the corner on the play. His foul on Alessandrini led to a good chance for LA, though. Solid day for Donny.
D, Jonathan Spector, 7 – The only thing Spector really did wrong was to overcommit to a shot fake by Alessandrini, who then cut to his right and scored the LA goal. Aside from that he had a good day, again directing his teammates, reading plays to sniff out danger before it manifested itself, and finished with an impressive 91.4% passing accuracy. He had three clearances – one off the goal line on a Daniel Steres effort – two interceptions and blocked a shot
D, Tommy Redding, 6.5 – Tommy had another mostly strong game, including some balls in the air that he can sometimes struggle with (he didn’t technically win any aerials but he did enough to ensure his mark didn’t either). His passing was solid (85.2%), and he tied Toia with five clearances, with a tackle and a blocked shot. At times he was not able to quite cut off the movement of dos Santos, Alessandrini, and Zardes, but marking those players is a lot to ask of anyone.
D Scott Sutter, 7.5 – The Swiss international may have been Orlando’s man of the match in the first half, with two tackles, two chances created, the assist on Will Johnson’s opening goal, and creating much-needed width for the Lions’ attack. He cooled off a bit after the break and only passed at a 65.6% clip, but he combined with Johnson to make Emmanuel Boateng nearly invisible on the day. Boateng owned Orlando in last year’s meeting but he wasn’t able to do much (0 key passes). Sutter continues to settle into the lineup nicely.
MF, Antonio Nocerino, 6.5 – Noce was quite accurate in the first half (92.3%) with his passing and finished at 85.4%, so he didn’t fall off much after halftime. He created a chance for Carlos Rivas, conceded only one foul, with two interceptions and a clearance. Five of his six long balls were accurate, including a scrumptious pass to Rivas in the 35th minute, but the Colombian made a mess of his cross for Cyle Larin. For only training the last couple days of the week, it was a good outing for the Italian. Jason Kreis praised his leadership and work rate after the match.
MF, Cristian Higuita, 6 – Cristian’s passing rate was typically good (82.4%) but he seemed a bit heavy with his first touch at times and was perhaps a tad slow to the ball a few times, but he did manage to avoid a booking and finished with two tackles, committing only one foul (and that came in like the first minute). He had the most bad touches of the non-forwards, who each had one more than his four, and was dispossessed three times. But he put in his usual tough shift and is slowly working his way back to 90-minute fitness.
MF, Will Johnson, 8 (MOTM) – Maybe Will should just keep that captain’s armband when Ricky returns, eh? Johnson had a monster game with a beautiful goal and another assist, and has been spectacular on set pieces defensively, clearing a few out of harm’s way on this day (three in total). On his goal, he worked hard to ensure he got back onside after taking a corner kick, then chested down Sutter’s long ball and hit a gorgeous chip shot into the back post side netting on the half-volley. His corner delivery on Cyle Larin’s winner was as good as the one he had against the Red Bulls. He finished with a team-high three shots (tied with Giles Barnes), two of which were on target, and created two chances. His passing rate of 76.3% could have been better but he did complete five of his six long balls. He tallied two tackles.
MF, Giles Barnes, 6.5 – Taking over for Matias Perez Garcia at the top of Kreis’ diamond midfield, the Jamaican had a solid outing but it could have been so much more. Barnes could have had a brace but was denied twice on last-ditch blocks that may have been avoided had he been able to get his shots up under the bar. He got all three of his shots on frame, however, passed at an 85.7% clip, and won two fouls. Importantly, he moved the ball forward into space by dribbling right at defenders and forcing them to commit, which is a skill not all of his teammates have.
F, Carlos Rivas, 7 – Is there anyone in MLS more snake-bitten than Rivas is right now? He rattled the woodwork twice, made two beautiful passes that resulted in chances, created space down the left, proving to be a nightmare for right back Nathan Smith, and got a shot on frame that was stopped by Clement Diop. There were a few times he still hit the ball poorly and sent the ball into the seats, but this was a much better game than his last couple and he left with cramps in the 75th minute with no goals or assists to show for a good game. He deserved a goal on his 23rd birthday, but the posts took away his presents.
F, Cyle Larin, 5.5 – Until the winning goal, this was not a great night for the Canadian striker, but credit him for keeping his concentration and working hard on the game winner. I saw other sites that rated him high for scoring that goal, and he did put himself in good positions, but there were just too many times when he passed when he should shoot and shot when he should pass. His movement did bother Jelle Van Damme into fouling him repeatedly and taking a booking, but that movement didn’t result in much of an end product. He tried to field a high cross with his foot rather than head it on goal in the second half. He managed two shots, one on target, with the goal, and his passing rate of 80% was fairly high for him, but he did have five bad touches and was dispossessed a team-high five times.
MF, Luis Gil (72’), 6 – It took Luis a few minutes to get into the game but he settled in nicely, completing 92.9% of his 14 passes and helping hold onto the ball in the game’s late stages. He got himself into a good spot to get a header on target off Sutter’s cross in the 84th minute, but didn’t quite get all of it. Finished with a pair of tackles and generally harassed the right side players for the Galaxy over the game’s final stretch. He’s not yet integrated fully into the team, but it looks like Gil will fit in nicely when he finds his rhythm.
MF, Servando Carrasco (75’), 4.5 – Serva didn’t look like he got fully settled after coming on for Rivas. He made a mess of a couple of possessions and was more inaccurate than usual passing the ball (66.7%), managing nine touches in total. Finished with just one tackle despite a lot of Galaxy possession in the attacking third during his time on the pitch.
F, Hadji Barry (90’), N/A – The young striker wasn’t on long enough to do much, touching the ball only twice, but he did have a chance to be a hero. He was on only seconds when a ball fell for him in the box. His first touch was heavy but he gathered it in and had his shot blocked. That was about all for his contributions on the day.
That’s how I saw the individual performances from a solid 2-1 win over the Galaxy. What did you think? Vote for your Man of the Match in our poll.
Who was your Orlando City Man of the Match from the Lions' 2-1 win over the LA Galaxy.
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