Orlando City is in free fall after the most promising start in its MLS existence. There are multiple reasons for it, which is fodder for other columns than this one, but they include other teams adjusting to what Orlando was doing early in the season, a lack of creativity in the final third, and a falling off in form of Cyle Larin and Carlos Rivas.
Those and others are topics for other posts.
This one is to rate Orlando City’s players individually for their part in Saturday night’s loss to expansion Minnesota. It feels bad to lose to a lower table team and to your ex-coach, especially when the opponent was missing its best player. But it’s really just another loss in a bad run of results and the opportunities were there for the Lions had they only taken them.
Usually, these grades are turned in shortly after the conclusion of the game but technical issues with a staff writer’s computer focused my attentions elsewhere. As a result, the delay offered me an opportunity to ignore the emotional reaction of just giving everyone a grade between two and four after the loss and gain perspective that can only come with time to reflect. This might be a good way to do it in the future, actually.
All that said, let’s get to the player ratings.
GK, Joe Bendik, 6.5 — It would be harsh to blame him overly much on the Christian Ramirez goal. He came off his line to try to make the play and nearly made it. He could possibly have recognized the danger a split second sooner but, again, it would be harsh to blame him too much for a one-on-one play. His 20th-minute save on Ramirez kept the score level early. His distribution was OK. He had to face only five shots and only two were on target.
D, PC, 6.5 — Although not the only player to struggle with his long balls, PC hit only three of 10 on the night. His passing was a decent-ish 78.7% (second among defenders) but he created no chances and attempted only one cross, which didn’t connect. He at least tried to get the attack going but made some curious mistakes, such as dribbling into a triple-team late in the game and then committing a foul after being dispossessed. Earned a free kick in a good spot late but the Lions wasted it by fouling with the ball in the air. Defensively, he was second on the team in tackles (6) and finished with three interceptions and three clearances but also tied for the team high in fouls (4) and kept Ramirez onside on the goal.
D, Jonathan Spector, 7 — Yet another workmanlike effort by Specs, who led the team in clearances (6) and tied for the most interceptions (4), with one tackle. Spector passed at a 76.7% rate, won two aerials, and drew two fouls. It wasn’t a standout game for the veteran center back but it was a solid performance and he generally did his job on the night. People will remember the final score, but likely won’t recall that the defense limited the home team to just five shot attempts and Spector was a big part of that.
D, Jose Aja, 6.5 — The Uruguayan lost track of Ramirez a couple of times – who doesn’t? – but otherwise his night was mostly solid. He gambled and lost in the 20th minute, trying to beat an attacker to the ball, forcing Bendik to make a big save. He bailed out Will Johnson in the 28th by blocking a dangerous cross in transition after the midfielder had turned it over and he did a nice job of holding off Ramirez on a cross in the 78th. His passing rate of 76% was about the same as Spector’s and he won one aerial and made three tackles with four interceptions and five clearances. He managed one key pass but was accurate with only three of 12 long balls.
D, Scott Sutter, 7 (MotM) — Sutter led the entire team in passing accuracy (89.7%) and was second in crosses (5), helping to create on a night when few players were able to do so. His shot in the seventh skipped just wide of the far post. His long throw-in created a chance for Cyle Larin in the ninth minute. He finished with three interceptions and four clearances. Honestly, it was a toss-up for me between Sutter and Spector as Man of the Match but on a night with so little offense, one of the few players who tried to create some gets my nod.
MF, Luis Gil, 6 — The midfielder created a team-high four chances (tied with MPG) and got his one shot on target in the 50th minute, although it was right at Bobby Shuttleworth. He seemed to struggle at times with connecting in the final third, which makes him pretty much like everyone else on the night, but he finished with a 78.1% passing rate. Gil tied Aja and Spector for the team high in interceptions (4) and had one clearance.
MF, Antonio Nocerino, 6 — With two tackles, an interception, and two clearances, Noce did his usual job of trying to shield the back four, albeit in a flat 4-4-2, which may not best suit his strengths. His best moment may have been in the 70th minute, when he dispossessed Johan Venegas inside the box to break up a Minnesota attack. He unleashed a screamer of a shot in the 54th minute that Sam Cronin blocked. His passing percentage of 76.7% was the lowest among the team’s midfielders but they were all within a couple of percentage points of one another. He was the only midfielder aside from Johnson to send a cross into the box.
MF, Will Johnson, 6 — The acting captain didn’t leave too much of a mark on the game but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. His effort and work rate continues to be among the best on the team. He nearly singlehandedly brought the Lions back in the 58th by testing Shuttleworth just two minutes after Minnesota opened the scoring. His worst moment came in the 28th minute with an uncharacteristic sloppy turnover. Had time and space but fired high in the 87th minute. He had two interceptions and three clearances and led the midfield with a 79.2% passing rate.
MF, Matias Perez Garcia, 6 — MPG’s night was a mixture of successes and failures, as usual. He tied for a team high with four chances created, had a game high seven tackles, and was second on the club in shots (4). Yet only one of his four shots was on target and the three misses weren’t close. He earned three free kicks, taking one in the 23rd minute and forcing a diving stop from Shuttleworth. He had better accuracy on his long balls (4/6) than most of his teammates.
F, Carlos Rivas, 4 — I’m noticing a difference between the home and away versions of the Colombian. Rivas was static most of the game, preferring to stand in place to send in crosses rather than take on defenders wide to get to the end line or try to turn the corner. He shoots (wildly) from distance but won’t shoot from close range. He led the team with six crosses but had a few others blocked simply by being unwilling to make an effort to make space for himself. Rivas passed at only a 72.7% rate and got only two of his six shots on target – both of which had little power and were right at the keeper. He was dispossessed a team-high four times. Just not a great night for the Colombian.
F, Cyle Larin, 4 — If anyone was off his game as much as Rivas, it was Larin. He should have done better when Sutter’s throw-in fell at his feet in the box in the ninth minute. He ruined numerous attacks by trying to pass through defenders, and misjudged a through ball that could have seen him in on goal. The Canadian also wasted a late free kick in a good spot with an obvious push that drew the referee’s attention. His passing accuracy (66.7%) tied Bendik for the team low, and he didn’t have goal kicks to drag down his percentage. He did manage to get both of his shot attempts on target and helped out defensively with an interception and two clearances.
MF, Giles Barnes (72’), 4.5 — The Jamaican came on for Gil and was mostly invisible for the game’s final 20+ minutes. The box score shows he had three shots but none were on target and I’m hard pressed to even remember any of them. He completed four of his eight pass attempts and neither of his two crosses.
MF, Cristian Higuita (74’), 5.5 — Despite coming on two minutes later than Barnes, he had six more touches (21 compared to 15) but aside from drawing a foul and winning an aerial, he didn’t have too much impact on the game. His passing rate was good (84.6%) in a limited number of passes (13).
That is what the individual performances looked like to me. What did you think? Be sure to vote below for your OCSC Man of the Match.
Who was your Orlando City Man of the Match from the Lions’ 1-0 loss at Minnesota United?
This poll is closed
Matias Perez Garcia