Orlando City threw a homecoming party, and it was fun, but it wasn’t quite as fun as it could have been (or maybe should have been). The Lions drew Western Conference foe Sporting Kansas City, 2-2, at Orlando City Stadium on a night that could have seen the hosts take more, or fewer, points.
In the end, maybe a draw was fair.
Jason Kreis’ team certainly wanted to wash away the memories of a two-game road swing without taking a point. But instead of taking all three — which has been the norm at the club’s new stadium — the Lions got only one before they head to San Jose for a midweek meeting with the Earthquakes.
Here are my individual ratings for Orlando City’s participants in the match.
GK, Joe Bendik, 7 — There wasn’t much Joe could do about either of the goals, which simply pinged to the wrong person at the wrong moment. He finished the match with six saves. He found himself in a tangle of bodies on both and couldn’t do much other than get a touch. In the 32nd, he made a diving punch on an effort from Fernandes. made another big save in the 51st and punched a Feilhaber effort over the crossbar three minutes later. In the 90th, he stopped another Gerso effort.
D, Donny Toia, 5.5 — Although he mostly played well, Toia can be partly culpable on both goals, as they originated on his side of the field. But his man appeared to come back from an offside position on the first and he was a bit unlucky to stumble on the second while tracking Gerso Fernandes. He finished with three tackles, two interceptions and three clearances, and passed at a 73.3% rate, but he didn’t have a single cross in a more defensive posture than we’ve seen in recent games.
D, Jonathan Spector, 7 — His highlights started early when he made a saving tackle to break up an attack in the third minute. He conceded a free kick in a dangerous area in the eighth minute that led to the first SKC goal but it wasn’t a great call as he went shoulder to shoulder and we saw the first of many instances of a Sporting player going down easily. Prevented Feilhaber from getting onto a Fernandes cross on the goal but the ricochet fell perfectly for Latif Blessing. He recovered defensively after a Cristian Higuita turnover in the 36th to put out the fire. Spector led the team with six clearances, and tallied one tackle, a blocked shot, and two interceptions. His passing was good (86.7%) and seven of his 10 long balls were accurate.
D, Jose Aja, 6.5 — It was an eventful night for Aja, who was booked just 11 minutes in although it merely looked like he got tangled up with his man. If Ricardo Salazar was sending a message that he would put up with no nonsense on this night, well...he put up with a lot of nonsense after showing Jose yellow. He struggled to get back to help deny the first goal (more on this below). He lost his man on the second goal but thought he’d made up for it by scoring on a beautiful header two minutes later, but the play was whistled dead and a goal kick awarded. He passed well (95% with 5/6 accurate long balls), and finished with two interceptions, a clearance, and a blocked shot and was pretty good in the air.
D, Scott Sutter, 6.5 — He couldn’t have made a more accurate cross than the one he served in to Kaká in the 26th minute. He had zero other options in the box but picked out the captain, who had three men on him, from way out on the right wing. It was a deserved assist. He got caught watching a bit on the first goal but got fooled by the deflection momentarily. He rightly tried to point out that just before the goal, this happened without a call:
Just a few seconds before the 1st Sporting KC goal, José Aja was held back by Roger Espinoza, but nothing called. pic.twitter.com/XGtJPBeOMh— Austin David (@AustinDavid22) May 14, 2017
Sutter had one interception and three clearances defensively, and passed at an 85.7% clip. Unlike his assist to Kaká, the accuracy on his long balls was off, only hitting one of five.
MF, Antonio Nocerino, 6.5 — It was a fairly quiet night for the Italian, which is what you want from your defensive midfielder. His passing rate was good (90.3%), He was dispossessed in his own end once but overall played a much safer game than he did last Saturday. He stepped in front of a shot in the 64th minute to block it and he finished with three tackles and a clearance. He even made a nice run into the box early but Cristian Higuita didn’t see him.
MF, Will Johnson, 7 — Will’s service was good but came with an asterisk on this night. His 29th-minute corner found Spector at the back post but the whistle blew for an infraction. His late cross was perfectly placed for Aja but curled out before cutting back in for Jose...apparently. His shot in the 60th minute didn’t miss by much and would have been a great goal. His 93.2% passing rate was top notch for his team-high 44 passes, and he completed two key passes on the night, with 6/7 accurate long balls. He made one tackle, two interceptions and three clearances on defense, was not dispossessed and had no bad touches. A solid night for Will.
MF, Cristian Higuita, 5.5 — The Colombian did a good job of recovering the ball, but he also had moments of sloppiness that were costly. He coughed up the ball in his own half in the 36th minute but Spector bailed him out. Four minutes later he was booked for a chop to the ankles. He made a fantastic — and utterly unexpected — run in the 48th minute and forced Graham Zusi to pull him back and take a yellow card, or he’d have been in on goal. He teamed up with Sutter to foil Jimmy Medranda’s attack in the 63rd. Higuita was dispossessed three times and had two bad touches, and recorded an uncharacteristically low one tackle. He added two clearances and completed 83.3% of his passes.
MF, Kaká, 7.5 (MotM) — The secondary goal scorer everyone was looking for during the first month of the season has arrived. The Brazilian calmly chested down Sutter’s cross in traffic in the 26th minute, took a dribble toward center, and stroked home a beautiful back-post goal to put the Lions ahead. His free kick in the 50th from just above the box didn’t sail high by much and his nifty moves earned a corner a minute later. His silky move in the 79th minute forced Ilie Sanchez to grab him and take a yellow card. He hustled back after taking a free kick in the 89th minute to break up a counter attack with a nice defensive play in space. His 81.3% passing rate was OK but not stellar, but he was two for two with long ball accuracy. He contributed a tackle and an interception, with one key pass.
F, Carlos Rivas, 7 — Carlitos made an early impact with a tremendous defensive play off a short SKC corner to force a goal kick. Nearly got onto a long ball in the fifth minute but Tim Melia just got there first. His scrumptious cross in the 16th minute gave Cyle Larin little to do but stick out a toe to score. In the 28th minute, Rivas stole the ball right off the foot of Ike Opara, one of the best center backs in MLS, but his cross for Larin was deflected away. As usual, the stat sheet doesn’t show how much he influenced the game. He took a lot of attention of Opara on the night and was always a threat on the counter. He was dispossessed three times and had three bad touches, and completed only half his six (!) passes. He sent his lone shot high over the bar. His main contribution was the space he created for Larin and Kaká and the attack seemed to go nowhere after he was lifted for Giles Barnes, which kind of gives him a case for Man of the Match. Two of his three crosses were accurate.
F, Cyle Larin, 6.5 — The Canadian returned to the score sheet in the 16th minute, doing what he couldn’t do in Toronto by finishing a nifty cross from Rivas. Stole the ball with some good defensive work in the 21st minute and got into the box before being dispossessed by Roger Espinoza, who may have gone through his back before getting a foot to the ball. He nearly got a second goal in the 71st but couldn’t get his shot over Melia, and the two collided, which ended up requiring treatment for Larin. Both his shots were on target, he contributed a clearance, and completed 75% of his passes. He showed a good work rate but couldn’t consistently worry SKC’s back line.
F, Giles Barnes (64’), 4.5 — After relieving a beat-up Rivas, Barnes came on but didn’t have much chance to get involved in the match. His 83.3% passing rate seems pretty good but he only attempted six passes. He didn’t attempt any shots or create any chances, and recorded no defensive statistics at all. Quiet night for the Jamaican, who just couldn’t leave his mark on the game.
F, Luis Gil (65’), 6 — It was a steady performance in relief for Gil, who came on for Higuita, who was on a yellow. His passing rate wasn’t stellar (55.6%) but it was a small sample size. He finished with a tackle and a couple of crosses on the night. He sent a ball that put Larin in on goal for a scoring chance in the 71st and he fired on target off a corner in the 95th.
That’s how I saw it. What did you think? Vote for your Orlando City MotM below and let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Who was your Orlando City Man of the Match from the Lions’ 2-2 draw vs. Sporting Kansas City?
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