The eighth meeting of the 2015 expansions teams is in the books, as Orlando City earned its first road win of the season with a 2-1 victory over its sky blue rivals. Orlando looked to be cruising to a 2-0 win until David Villa edged one back for the home team in the 74th minute. It was all hands on deck for the Lions after Villa’s goal, but Orlando’s defensive effort held up until the final whistle of the match.
Orlando sits atop the Eastern Conference standings with the win. Let’s take a look at the individual performances from the match.
GK, Joe Bendik 7.5 — The first half was quiet for Bendik, but Joe saved Orlando’s keister and all three points with a point-blank save on Villa through traffic in stoppage time. In fact, Bendik’s quiet start to the game looked like a distant memory as he was in constant motion for the final 20 minutes of the match. He kept a lid on things by twice pushing attempts over the crossbar along with a beautiful punch on one of NYCFC’s 12 corners in the match. But the biggest save was undoubtedly the last one that denied Villa. Bendik is worth at least nine points by my count this season so far. He keeps producing time and time again.
D, Donny Toia, 6 — Toia assisted Larin for his second goal of the game with a curling cross into the box. He picked up possession of the ball after a corner and escaped one marker before finding Larin. Defensively, Toia did a good job keeping Jack Harrison at bay for most of the game. Harrison was able to get some crosses into dangerous areas, but Toia prevented him from getting in behind the back four on the dribble. He had one mental lapse in the game, which resulted in NYCFC’s only goal. He lost track of Villa on the NYCFC free kick and the Spaniard made him pay by chipping a first-time finish from the near post.
D, Jonathan Spector, 7.5 — Spector continued his solid form for Orlando City since his move from Birmingham City this off-season. Spector won aerial battles and made clearances with both his head and his feet. He supported the outside backs by intercepting passes and making numerous tackles on NYCFC’s wingers. Through the middle, Spector and Redding were a solid unit, and didn’t look out of position for almost the entire match.
D, Tommy Redding, 6.5 — Redding made a strong case to continue as Spector’s CB partner even as Jose Aja is close to returning from injury. Redding stayed in contact with Spector and kept attackers in front of him the entire match. He was strong in the air when called on and made good decisions when he had the ball at his feet. Redding picked up a yellow card in the second half, but he made the right choice to halt a dangerous looking counter-attack for NYCFC, even though the hosts scored off the ensuing free kick. Kreis will have a difficult decision on his hands when Aja becomes fit again.
D, Scott Sutter, 6.5 — Sutter continued to join in with the attack like he did against the Red Bulls last weekend, and it paid off today. Sutter provided Larin with a well-weighted pass to open the scoring for the Lions. He had a sound defensive day as well. He seemed to cover the entire right side of the field, many times advancing higher than Johnson, who was playing right midfield. He also helped the team keep possession in wide areas, even though the Lions didn’t have a lot of the ball overall.
MF, Cristian Higuita, 6 — Higuita retained his starting position on the left side of Kreis’ midfield diamond for this match. He had a quiet match today due to the lack of possession for Orlando on the road. But Higuita was aggressive in the midfield when the team didn’t have the ball. He earned a yellow card for such play, trying to win back possession in the attacking third, but it was good to see him working hard to get the ball back. Offensively, he was part of the build-up to the first Larin goal. He left the game after injuring his shoulder after a tackle from Ethan White—who picked up a yellow on the play.
MF, Antonio Nocerino, 6.5 — Nocerino quietly helped Orlando connect passes in midfield. He balanced that link-up play, but wasn’t afraid to clear the danger when a pass wasn’t on. He provided good cover for the back four that was very compact through the middle of the field, with most of the home team’s threats coming from the wings. He also matched Maxi Moralez who likes to find space in between the back four and defensive center midfielders.
MF, Will Johnson 6.5 — Johnson is a model of consistency. Wearing the captain’s armband, Johnson never stopped running in this match. Everything we are beginning to expect from Johnson was on display in New York City today, except the stunning goal from last week. Johnson played a slightly narrower role, partly due to the narrow field in Yankee Stadium. He helped Nocerino and Higuita frustrate any passing moves through the middle of the park. NYCFC enjoyed a healthy advantage in possession all day, but Orlando’s midfield held up to the task each time.
MF, Giles Barnes 5.5 — Jason Kreis started Barnes at the top of the diamond for the second straight week. He tried to drive the team forward into attack, but there were long stretches of the match when he didn’t see the ball in attacking areas. He spent most of his time chasing the possession of NYCFC midfielders. Barnes managed to win free kicks for Orlando, which helped the team regain its shape and take a breather defensively.
F, Carlos Rivas, 7.5 — Rivas caused trouble early and often for NYCFC’s back four, forcing Moralez into a professional foul and a yellow card in only the second minute of the match. He fizzed a free kick that missed the near post in the 10th minute that was a lot closer than the match commentators gave him credit for. Rivas also helped set up the first goal for OCSC when he found Sutter with a through ball that set up the assist. The Colombian continued to harass defenders throughout the match. In the last 10 minutes of the game, he helped Orlando keep possession by holding up play in the NYCFC half. He also won valuable free kicks in the final minutes with his hold-up play to relieve some pressure on Orlando’s defensive posture.
F, Cyle Larin, 8 (MOTM) — We saw a vintage Larin performance this Sunday afternoon from the Canadian. Larin started the match looking bright and active. He was more involved in pressing opposing defenders than in any match so far this season. And Sutter rewarded him for his efforts in the 31st minute. Rivas connected with Sutter, who found Larin at the near post for the one-touch finish. Orlando’s other outside back provided Larin with his second goal. Toia’s cross found Larin who out-muscled Rodney Wallace to head in his second of the match. He also won a metric ton of free kicks by drawing fouls.
MF, Luis Gil (64’), 5.5 — He came in for Higuita after he picked up a shoulder injury. Gil entered the game as NYCFC started to dominate possession, and spent most of his minutes defending the onslaught of NYCFC attacks. His energy helped the team close out the three points on the road.
MF, Servando Carrasco (83’) 5.5 — Kreis swapped Barnes for Carrasco to add some more defensive stability to the final minutes of the match. Carrasco jumped in alongside Nocerino, Johnson, and Gil to close out the match. Nothing fancy about his play during the last minutes of the match — it was safety first with everything. In the end, it got the job done.
MF, Matias Perez Garcia (90’+3’), NA — MPG got a short run-out to waste a few seconds with a substitution for Rivas, and he got only a few touches at the end of the game.
Those are my ratings from a huge road win. How did you see the individual performances? Vote for your MotM in the poll below.
Who was your Orlando City Man of the Match in a 2-1 road win at New York City FC?
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