On a very damp evening in Orlando, the Lions survived. That’s the best word to use in this situation, after going down to nine men, weathering the 21-shot barrage and managing their second clean sheet in a row to the Chicago Fire.
It was a very good game up until the Rafa Ramos red card, then the game went from bad to worse after Antonio Nocerino received his marching orders. Through all that, however, the Lions managed to survive and come away with a very much earned draw.
Now, without further ado, let’s get into the grades.
GK, Joe Bendik, 8 — Forced to come up with a huge performance and had to save six of the Fire’s 21 shots in the game. Stonewalled David Accam on a 1-v-1 shot in the 14th minute. Managed a diving save in first-half stoppage time after a good combination of passes from the Fire. Had another play a minute later, stopping a follow-up shot from Nemanja Nikolic. Great save in the 56th minute on a Michael de Leeuw header in the box.
D, PC, 8 — A very good game for the Brazilian. Was forced all night to try and defend the wing and did a great job in doing so. Stopped a potential counter in the 15th minute on a dangerous challenge on Nikolic. Great clearance on a lofted ball into the box in the 44th minute. Foul in a dangerous area in the 62nd minute, leading to a free kick just outside the box for Chicago. Had a poor header in the 89th minute that almost gave Chicago a chance, but Pereira bailed him out.
D, Jonathan Spector, 8 — A great job not only defensively, but anchoring the back line and getting the team to play together, despite being down two men. Was second on the team in clearances. Good cut out of a cross in the fourth minute after the defense was stretched thin by the counter.
D, Leo Pereira, 8 — An incredible performance by the Brazilian. Met with a lot of pressure and for only his third ever game in MLS, he was excellent. Led the team in tackles and clearances and was second on the team in interceptions. Was fourth on the team in passing accuracy with 87% and led the team in blocked shots as well. Did a good job standing up David Accam in the 17th minute when he was inside the box and had great positioning on the turnover in the 88th minute by PC and knocked away a potential chance.
D, Rafael Ramos, 4 — Rafa Ramos is cursed. Honestly, the guy just can’t catch a break. Had a decent start to his evening, getting an early cross in the seventh minute, forcing Matt Lampson to come out to catch it. He was just starting to settle into the game and then in the 26th minute, he went in for a ball in the air, catching Brandon Vincent on his way down. He didn’t see Vincent as he went up for the ball, and after the foul was called, Ramos was shown a straight red card.
MF, Antonio Nocerino, 5 — Up until the sending off, Nocerino was having a solid game. Nothing too glaring in terms of offense or defense, but was just solid all around. Unfortunately, he had a poor challenge 68th minute as he put his cleat into Matt Polster’s back and earned him a straight red, ending his night.
MF, Cristian Higuita, 6 — A somewhat typical Higuita performance tonight. Had his usual defensive prowess and his usual passive backwards passing, but still provided a boost for the Lions. Had a 100% passing accuracy for the game and was the most fouled player on Orlando City, with three. Early on, he was a bit indecisive with passing, trying to get balls forward and passing them back and didn’t really improve as the game went on. Had a poor turnover in the 51st minute, giving the ball straight to Accam with space, but the Orlando defense provided depth and broke it up.
MF, Will Johnson (MOTM), 8.5 — Credit where credit is due. Johnson didn’t start out the game all that well, but after Ramos’ red card, he really took hold of the team defensively and did an excellent job in the back line and in the midfield. Forced to switch to fullback after the red card to Ramos for the remainder of the first half, and did great cutting out attacks and reading the game. Finished with the most tackles (3), interceptions (6), and third in clearances (4). Had a last-second defensive play in the 34th minute to knock away a back-post cross. Almost headed it into his own net in the 42nd minute trying to clear the ball away, but it went wide of goal. Great challenge in the midfield on Luis Solignac in the 53rd minute to break up a counter attack.
MF, Giles Barnes, 6.5 — Did a good job in the first half running at the defense and taking on players, but the end product just wasn’t there tonight. Good run into the box in the 40th minute, but couldn’t get the cross up in the air. Forced to come out for Scott Sutter after the first half due to the red card to Ramos.
F, Carlos Rivas, 6 — Still struggled with set pieces, like the free kick he had in the eighth minute. Had a bit of confusion in the 13th minute, when he got caught with the ball and didn't’ know what to do with it. Took a shot from way outside the box in the 24th minute that forced Lampson into a save. Had another effort a few seconds later he pulled wide right. Put in a long ball into the box in the 44th minute, but it was a bit too far for Larin. Had a chance in the 52nd minute to run with space, but his touch on the ball let him down. Came off for Kaká in the 59th minute.
F, Cyle Larin, 6 — Had a few chances early on in the game, but after the red card, was almost invisible offensively. Did well to cover defensively and helped on the wings before he came off in the 71st minute to make way for Carrasco and a more defensive shape. His best opportunity came in the 33rd minute when he caught Lampson off his line but he hit his shot right at the keeper.
D, Scott Sutter (45’), 8 — Forced to come in after the halftime break to provide cover defensively. Occasionally got forward into the attack, but after the second red card, he bunkered down and defended the wing well.
MF, Kaká (59’), 6.5 — Came on for Carlos Rivas in the 59th minute to get a bit more attacking variety, but after Nocerino’s sending off and Larin coming out, he was put alone on an island up top. He did have a chance in the 69th minute after he got the ball in the box, but his cross was right at Lampson in goal.
MF, Servando Carrasco (71’), 6.5 — Came in with a sliding challenge to knock the ball away in the 86th minute. Only managed nine touches on the ball and completed only two of five passes but he helped the team park the bus and got into passing lanes late.
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.
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