Will Johnson’s goal was enough to give the Lions a 1-0 win in Utah. It was not the best performance by Orlando City, but a win is a win. Orlando City was unable to get much going offensively, and Cyle Larin was unable to create a big impact in his return. The lone goal came from a bouncing ball, off a set piece, that Johnson was able to finish against his old team.
So, let’s dive right into the grades:
GK, Joe Bendik, 6.5 — Bendik was back to his typical self tonight, making saves that Orlando City fans have become accustomed to seeing. However, everything wasn’t perfect for the ‘keeper and he had way too many turnovers, just look at the chart below. Still, his two saves and two crosses held solidified the win for Orlando City. Plus, he kept the shutout, and for that his grade goes up. His highlight of the match came in the 64th minute. RSL nearly went up as Luis Silva broke through the Lions’ defense and was in on goal. Bendik was quick off his line, and gave Silva no chance at finding the back of the net.
D, Donny Toia, 6 — Offensively Toia was poor, however defensively he did well. He led the team in clearances and interceptions, but his passing accuracy was about 56%. He did not even attempt a pass in the final third and he mostly had giveaways on the touch line. He was beaten a few times by Brooks Lennon, but was either able to recover or had help behind him.
D, Jonathan Spector, 7 — Spector was the leader tonight, and kept the defense compact and organized. Although close a few times, the high line never broke and RSL was unable to get in behind the defenders. The one time that it did happen, Bendik scooped up the ball with ease. Almost all of Spector’s defensive stops were outside the box, and he made the stops that were needed. He was caught ball watching early on in the game, but was able to recover. He struggled in possession a few times which led to seven turnovers in the defensive third.
D, Jose Aja, 7 (MotM) — Aja needed a great performance to claim the spot as his own, in place of Tommy Redding, and, while it was not great, he was the best defender on the field tonight. He finished with eight clearances, four recoveries, and one tackle, a block, and a recovery. He had just four misplaced passes, all of which were long balls forward. He did give up two fouls, one of which resulted in a yellow card. Aja was also part of a defensive unit that held RSL to only two shots on target, but more impressive might be the home side’s six offside calls. Aja and Spector combined to keep the unit from breaking, where previously this year the opposition broke through Orlando’s high line way too often. On the goal, Aja got robbed of his first MLS goal, as his header hit the crossbar.
D, Scott Sutter, 6 — All-in-all Sutter had a good game, although he has had better outings in purple before. RSL wanted to get Joao Plata the ball down the left side, and Plata continually beat Sutter, as the Swiss-Englishman lacked the speed of the Ecuadoran, most notably on the play below. Like Spector, he was caught ball watching early on but he got better and better as the game went on.
MF, Kaká, 4.5 — It was not a performance for the Brazilian to remember, as he walked directly to the locker room after being subbed off, ignoring Jason Kreis. He hardly provided any attacking support, failed to register a single shot, and added many turnovers as well. His yellow card that he picked up in the 68th minute came off of his own turnover and was just lazy defending.
MF, Cristian Higuita, 5 — An awful decision by Higuita in the 76th minute led to an RSL free kick 20 yards out and should have resulted in a yellow card as well. Luckily for him he did not get a yellow, though, as 11 minutes later he whacked an RSL defender in the face while dribbling and earned himself a card. He was part of a midfield that struggled to possess the ball and led to RSL having 60% possession. In the 21st minute, Higuita and Kaká both failed to gain possession and the play nearly led to an RSL goal. However, for all the bad, Higuita made a handful defensive stops and broke up the home side’s attack.
MF, Antonio Nocerino, 6 — Noce had a quiet evening, with no glaring mistakes but also nothing too noteworthy. Late in the first half the Italian took a knock that he got up limping from. He continued on for the remainder of the first half, but did not come back out to start the second 45. The club stated that he is not injured though. While in the game, he did what he was supposed to do. He only had five misplaced passes, as he sat below the midfield and tried to direct traffic. He did give up a free kick about 30 yards out in the 35th minute, but altogether a solid outing for Nocerino.
MF, Will Johnson, 6.5 — Johnson scored the lone goal in the match, simply by being in the right place at the right time and jumping on the rebound. For the rest of the game he was a little bit of everywhere, although not making too much noise for himself. This is not strictly his fault, as it is most likely coming from Kreis, but he needs to put a cross in the box on the corners and stop with the short passes. They lead to way too many turnovers and counter attacks going the other way.
F, Giles Barnes, 6 — Barnes was another player who had an average game, but did what he needed to do. He got up and down the right wing all game, and in the 35th minute made room for himself and got a rare shot on target for Orlando. His passing accuracy was nothing to be proud of, but he brought energy for the Lions while also helping out on the defensive end.
F, Cyle Larin, 6 — In his first game back, Larin played with energy that the Lions were missing for the past three games. Up top he did not have many opportunities, but he attempted to make something out of nothing multiple times. He spent a large amount of time away from the goal and in the open space instead, even taking players on one-on-one near midfield. He finished with just two shots, none on target, but the service in to him was poor, and he did not spend much time in front of the net. For his first game back, it was a good performance, although nothing special from the Canadian.
MF, Servando Carrasco (46’), 6.5 — When Noce went out at halftime the team did not miss a beat with Carrasco in. In fact, the defense got better in the second half. Carrasco had a quiet game, but, as the defensive midfielder, quiet is typically not a bad thing. He connected on eight of his 10 passes, and broke up any attack that tried to go by him.
MF, Luis Gil (72’), 6 — With just under 20 minutes to play, by the time Gil entered the game Orlando City was in defensive mode. The team picked up a little when he came in, and he helped to secure the shutout. He won a header in the box over Kyle Beckerman at the back post in the 84th minute that could have threatened Bendik’s goal. He had one clearance and one recovery, to go along with his five-for-six passing.
MF, Richie Laryea (88’), N/A — He did not have enough time to earn a grade, but in his few minutes he once again brought immediate energy to the Lions. Three minutes into his game, he juked out a defender, got into the box, and nearly opened his account and beat Nick Rimando, but the veteran ‘keeper parried it out for a corner.
Those were the grades, as I saw them. Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments and vote on the Man of the Match below.
Who was your Orlando City Man of the Match from the Lions’ 1-0 win at Real Salt Lake?
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