Even though the final score shows an unflattering result for Orlando City, there were plenty of performances for the Lions to be proud of on Saturday night as the team settled for a 1-1 draw with the Columbus Crew.
Orlando, despite the draw, played well for the majority of the match, and was arguably the better group outside of a poor stretch late in the first half that saw the Crew grab a 1-0 lead thanks to a set piece goal from Lalas Abubakar. The Lions out-shot Columbus 20 to 4, held roughly 56 percent of the possession, and were much more effective with the ball, completing 85 percent of their passes to Columbus’ 77 percent.
One of the Lions’ standout performers was midfielder Cristian Higuita, who came into the game as a substitute for Will Johnson in the 32nd minute. Higuita made an immediate impact from the right side of the midfield getting on the ball, pushing play forward, and consistently making his passes.
“Sometimes there’s a little bit of confusion or a communication problem about what exactly his role is and what we want,” Jason Kreis said after the match. “But tonight I thought he came in and did an excellent job at the 8 position when he came in, I think that was right around the 10 or 15 minute span where we were really struggling but then I thought he was excellent when we moved him back to the 6.”
Higuita finished with four tackles, 93 percent passing, one assist, and also fired off a couple of shots. We don’t often see the Colombian pushing that high up the field and into the penalty area, but he was around the box all throughout the night and actually saw a majority of his touches coming from Columbus’ half.
His chart was good, as you could imagine:
“I think he’s an extremely versatile midfielder,” Kreis said. “I think he’s arguably one of the highest-potential players that we have in this group. I’m really a big fan of his.”
None of this play comes as surprising, Higuita has been playing some of his best soccer lately and Saturday night’s game may have been his best match of the season. In 2015, he broke into the league as one of the best young defensive midfielders and this season he’s returned to that form and is showing exactly why big clubs around Europe were chasing this guy before Orlando City landed him.