Orlando City scored first but couldn’t hold the lead and whether it was a soft penalty or not, and whether a handball should have been given on the other end or not, it’s another loss in a summer full of them. At least Cyle Larin broke his goal drought and he and Dom Dwyer appear to be learning more and more how to work together.
The trouble, as usual, seems to be in the midfield, with continuous turnovers ruining both possession and attack-building. Keeping three defensive mids in the midfield continues to bear no fruit on the offensive end.
Let’s get to the grades.
GK, Joe Bendik, 6.5 — It was a good night for Joe as an individual, making five saves out of the seven Montreal shots on goal. Was alert to a Dominic Oduro chance just nine minutes in, making a reaction save. Made a nice save on Ignacio Piatti in the 36th minute after he took down a cross in the box and fired immediately. Got a hand on the Piatti penalty kick but it popped up, hit the inside of the bar and spun in. Bendik’s best save came in the 63rd minute on a drive from the top of the box by Blerim Dzemaili — a one-handed stop that prevented a sure goal. He could do nothing about the second goal as Anthony Jackson-Hamel’s shot caught Bendik leaning the wrong way and it rolled agonizingly in. If there were holes in the performance, it would be his distribution. His long balls were often not close to a friendly face and he yielded a couple corners he otherwise normally wouldn’t.
D, Donny Toia, 6 — Had a bit of trouble dealing with the quickness and speed of Dominic Oduro, especially early but he settled in after that and was more secure against the speedy winger. His 78% passing is a step in the right direction after some recent games. He won a team-high four aerials and tied for the team high in clearances (4) and made three tackles and an interception. He was unable to get forward much, possibly in response to getting beat early by Oduro, but he played a solid if unspectacular game.
D, Jonathan Spector, 6 — I honestly don’t know why three people were on the passer on the second Montreal goal — maybe it’s an overreaction to allowing too much room last week at Atlanta. But Spector was one of three players high on the pitch when the pass set up Jackson-Hamel’s goal. That left Jose Aja alone to deal with the Montreal striker on Spector’s side of the pitch. Like Toia, he had four clearances to go with a team-high five interceptions but only two tackles on the night. His 78% passing was good but his long balls lacked accuracy.
D, Jose Aja, 5 — The last time these teams met, Aja was abused by Piatti. In this game, the young Uruguayan was much better but all anyone will remember was that he was involved in both goals. He tried to pull back his leg on the penalty call and Piatti made a meal of it, but it was the look of the play that drew the call and VAR (Ted Unkel) saw no reason to overturn it. He actually had decent position on Anthony Jackson-Hamel’s goal, cutting all the way from right to left to track the big striker. His passing percentage was lowest on the back line (65%). He was the team’s co-leader in tackles (4) and clearances (4), with one blocked shot and an interception, and also produced one of Orlando’s 10 shots.
D, Scott Sutter, 7 — It was a pretty good night for the Lions’ right back. He was involved on both ends, led the back line with 81% passing accuracy, won an aerial and had three clearances and three tackles. He helped out with Piatti on the right side of the defense throughout the night but still was able to get forward, leading the club with two key passes. Stepped up in the 71st into space and fired a shot that fizzed just over the bar.
MF, Antonio Nocerino, 5.5 — An active night for the Italian on both ends. He seemed to get forward more than usual. In the 50th minute he got into the box and earned a corner. He curled a dangerous shot into the area in the 57th that was cut out for a corner and sent a dangerous cross in at minute 61 that both Dwyer and Larin went for and kind of got in each other’s way. With an 87% passing rate and a key pass, he wasn’t as loose with the ball as some of his midfield teammates, and finished with two tackles, an interception, and a clearance.
MF, Cristian Higuita, 5 — Every game, I’m amazed to see Higuita’s passing rate. On this night, he was second among all starters (90%). And he really did do a number of good things. However, he was a turnover machine in the attacking half again. He ignored a wide open Cyle Larin in space between the defenders at the 26-minute mark and instead tried to pass out wide but got nothing on it and ignited a dangerous Montreal counter that ended with Matteo Mancosu firing wide. One look at his passing chart shows why he manages to keep his percentage high.
So many square balls. So many back passes. Because the Lions deploy three defensive midfielders, this kind of passing night is magnified because there’s nothing going forward.
But it wasn’t all bad for the Colombian. He contributed three tackles and a clearance, and Montreal had no goals in the run of play while he was on the pitch.
MF, Kaká, 5.5 — Sent a nice ball in for Larin in the 31st that turned into a corner. The Brazilian had one tackle but no other defensive statistics. Offensively, he was a bit sloppy at times; he was dispossessed three times and had three bad touches, and just didn’t seem to have much jump in his legs. His passing was decent (76%) with one key pass. He didn’t attempt a shot for the Lions.
MF, Will Johnson, 7 (MOTM) — After a couple of subpar outings against Atlanta, Johnson quietly had a very solid game. His 91% passing led all starters and if you look at his chart you can immediately see the difference between his night and Higuita’s.
There are a lot more forward arrows on Will’s chart. He added a key pass and a pair of accurate crosses to go with one of Orlando’s two shots on goal. Defensively, he was the co-leader in tackles (4), with one clearance and one interception. One of his tackles was a vital challenge in the penalty area against Piatti that prevented a scoring chance.
F, Dom Dwyer, 6 — Suffered four fouls in the match — at least of those that were called — as he worked hard in the offensive third. Offensively he was a bit isolated but he did manage to have some moments of danger. In the 35th minute he sent a gorgeous through ball for Larin but the Canadian chose not to take a left-footed shot as he was closed down from his right and the chance evaporated. Moments later he got free and headed over the bar on a cross that hung up a bit on him. He did a nice job defensively on a short corner to harass Blerim Dzemaili and force a turnover at the 41-minute mark. In the 64th minute he sprung Larin again. He registered one shot and one key pass. He was dispossessed three times but at least one of those should have been a Laurent Ciman foul. Dom’s passing was good (80% and one key pass that could have been two) and he had a clearance and a tackle but he’ll need to do more to be involved moving forward.
F, Cyle Larin, 6 — This may seem harsh for the goal scorer but hear me out. Blocked a free kick in the 11th minute as part of the wall. That started an offensive opportunity. His goal in the 12th minute was a great show of brute force and individual effort as he fought off Marco Donadel, got in behind, and beat Evan Bush cleanly to score for the first time since May 31. Earned a corner in the 31st minute getting in behind and trying to center for Dwyer. Opted not to fire lefty on a good through ball from Dwyer and the opportunity melted away. Later he was sent in by Dwyer but missed the net with his left-footed curler. Larin was dispossessed an incredible eight times in the game and had three bad touches. His passing was good (87%) but it was the times he opted not to pass that he had the ball taken right off his foot. He finished with one tackle — but immediately turned the ball over after winning it — and one blocked shot.
MF, Luis Gil (66’), 4.5 — I’m not one of those Gil bashers like others, but Luis really didn’t make an impact in the game. His passing was just 73%, he contributed nothing offensively and he made one interception on defense.
F, Carlos Rivas (73’), 4.5 — Like Gil, Rivas didn’t make an impact. His one shot attempt probably hasn’t landed yet, he had one bad touch and was dispossessed once, and his passing was just 67% in the game. With his speed, he should be able to manage more against tired legs in about 20 minutes of playing time.
MF, Giles Barnes (84’), N/A — Not enough time on the pitch to earn a grade, from my perspective, but he probably should have come on earlier. Managed only seven touches but completed both pass attempts and nearly put a cross onto Larin’s head late.
That’s the way I saw the individual performances in a frustrating 2-1 loss. Please let us know what you thought in the comments section and vote for your Orlando City Man of the Match in our poll below.
Who was your Orlando City Man of the Match in the Lions' 2-1 loss at Montreal Impact?
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