Orlando City fell for the second straight game, only picking up one point in its first three games of the season. After a pretty even match-up, the game was decided in the final half hour on two bad giveaways by Joe Bendik and Sacha Kljestan.
On the plus side, the game saw the debuts of three key players in Kljestan, Lamine Sané, and Josué Colmán. All three are expected to play important roles as the season continues. Here is how I graded each player for the performance in today’s game.
GK, Joe Bendik, 4 — As good as Joe Bendik usually is for Orlando City, he wasn’t on this day. It would usually be too much to blame a player on one play, but as little as goalkeepers touch the ball, you have no choice. The defining moment for Bendik came in the 62nd minute when the ball was played back to the goalkeeper and a poor clearance found Ismael Tajouri, who slid it past him for the opening goal. That play in itself is enough to say Bendik had a bad day.
D, RJ Allen, 5 — RJ Allen tried to get involved in the attack to help his new team defeat his old team, but his efforts were to no avail. He had some decent crosses and played well in defending the outside but didn’t have much of a say in the game.
D, Jonathan Spector, 5.5 — Jonathan Spector played well early in the back, clearing a dangerous opportunity in the sixth minute with his head, but his game ended early in this one. A clash of heads with NYCFC’s Maxime Chanot in the 16th minute forced the center back to receive medical treatment. He would finish the first half but would then be replaced by Lamine Sané. Hopefully, it doesn’t turn out to be serious for the Lions’ captain.
D, Amro Tarek, 6.5 (MOTM) — It was a poor team performance in New York this afternoon, but the bright spot is that the center backs did look good. Spector played well before being injured and Sané was terrific in his debut. Tarek also displayed a strong performance, keeping tight in the back with both of his partners for another impressive showing. Given the fact that he played so well in the back, and played the whole game, I’ll give Tarek the nod over Sané.
D, Mohamed El-Munir, 4.5 — The trend of Mohamed El-Munir losing his man continued this afternoon and it nearly cost Orlando City in the first half. In the 34th minute, the left back lost his man as Rodney Wallace ran right past him and headed a ball off of Joe Bendik’s post. Defending wasn’t the only trouble for El-Munir as he also struggled to get into the attack, though he did have two shots.
MF, Cristian Higuita, 4 — Cristian Higuita’s tough play early made it look as though he may be sent off before the first half ended, but his hard tackles soon changed into soft passes and turnovers that resulted in NYCFC opportunities. In fact, it was his turnover that forced Yotún into winning the ball back, before he and Bendik combined to gift NYCFC the opening goal.
MF, Yoshimar Yotún, 4.5 — Usually one of Orlando City’s best players, Yoshi Yotún had one of the worst games to date for the club. Poor decisions was what he’ll be known for in this one. His bad decision to send a soft pass to Bendik in the 62nd minute put pressure under the goalkeeper, causing his poor clearance and NYCFC’s first goal.
MF, Will Johnson, 5.5 — It’s generally a decent game for Johnson when you don’t notice him and this was one of those matches. He passed at an 88% clip, fired off two shots (hitting the crossbar late), and contributed three tackles, two interceptions, and four clearances. However, he also didn’t manage to create any chances and lost the ball three times.
MF, Sacha Kljestan, 5 — Much was made of the return of Sacha Kljestan, who served a two-game suspension to start the season. It was a disappointing debut for the midfielder, who never really got into the game. He did get involved in the turnover party late though, playing some nice balls to the men in blue, including the one that led to the second goal against. He still passed well (86%) and created three chances.
F, Justin Meram, 5.5 — Other than the center backs, Justin Meram probably had one of the better games for Orlando City. He was aggressive up top and put pressure on the NYCFC defense, attempting three of the Lions’ 11 shots. He nearly opened the scoring in the 52nd minute, but the shot was just wide. However, he must be held accountable for failing to convert as a forward, which lowers his grade. He also passed poorly (53%), particularly in the final third.
F, Chris Mueller, 5 — It’s difficult to expect too much from the rookie who played in just his third professional game this afternoon. Playing up top, Mueller didn’t really have any big chances to break the deadlock, aside from just after the start, when he had a shot blocked out for a corner from a good spot. He also wasn’t able to get the Lions back into the game when they fell behind. For that reason, it was an easily forgettable game for the young striker.
D, Lamine Sané (45’), 7 — Coming on at halftime for Spector, Sané was very good in his debut for the Lions. From shielding off defenders as the ball rolled toward Bendik, to strong clearances, there’s not much bad you can say about one of Orlando City’s new additions. The decision of who to start between Spector, Tarek, and Sané is a good problem for Jason Kreis.
MF, Richie Laryea (67’), 5 — Like several others, it was a forgettable game for Richie Laryea, who couldn’t really find his way into the game. He didn’t have any egregious plays like Kljestan or Yotún, but also was unable to find a way to inject life into the team as Kreis undoubtedly wanted when he brought him on.
MF, Josué Colmán (76’), N/A — The last substitute for Orlando City in this one was the long-awaited debut of Josué Colmán. The young midfielder showed some nice moves and passing, but was ultimately unable to make anything happen after coming on with just 14 minutes to go.
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