Well, another opener, another late goal for Orlando City. The Lions played about an hour a man down and still managed to come from behind to draw D.C. United, 1-1 at Orlando City Stadium. It was the Lions’ third such stoppage-time equalizer in four MLS opening days.
Despite the adversity, the Lions were able to steal a point on opening night, and here are my player grades. Yours may vary.
GK, Joe Bendik, 7.5 — Bendik was Bendik. He had two save-of-the-week nominees, the first coming on the saved penalty kick off the crossbar and left post. He also had a beautiful leaping save in the second half that kept the game 1-0. Bendik did slip up on the Yamil Asad goal as he misjudged a clear punch out situation on the set piece and got caught. Overall, a great opening game for Bendik.
D, Mohamed El-Munir, 6.5 — Even though he had some rough patches on defense throughout, El-Munir played as a powerhouse defensive player, staying physical through the entire game and creating some opportunities out of it. It was also his MLS debut, so forcing yourself into almost every play and playing a physical role was very important for the Lions. He also kept the game 1-0 with a crucial tackle on Darren Mattocks in the 79’ minute on a breakaway. El-Munir showed that he can play in the starting 11 for games to come.
D, Amro Tarek, 5.5 — Amro Tarek had a solid outing, even though he appeared lost for most of the first half. He picked up his play throughout the second half, being much more involved in the action and creating some plays for the Lions’ offensive attack. Tarek will improve throughout the year, but tonight was an average night for the Egyptian defender, filling in for presumed future starter Lamine Sané.
D, Jonathan Spector, 7.5 — Oh captain, my captain. Spector represented the Lions well in his first game as captain succeeding Kaká, and he played solid in his role. His diving header kept D.C. from scoring off the rebound of Bendik’s saved penalty. Spector held the back line up well being down a man, and his passing was also solid, which was evident on the assist to Pinho that led to the Lions scoring the game tying goal in the 90’+3 minute. Solid outing for the captain and a great assist that sent the fans home happy.
D, Scott Sutter, 8 — Sutter played a very solid game throughout, playing great defense on the outside and also coming up and delivering solid crosses that created attempts for the Lions’ offense. Sutter also passed the ball around the pitch well as a whole, helping Orlando City post an 82% passing rating. I believe Sutter’s presence on both ends of the field kept the Lions calm, and that allowed for the draw to occur even after he was subbed off. I was surprised to see him subbed off, but he played an amazing game on the outside on both the defensive and offensive end of the field.
MF, Cam Lindley, 5 — I feel as I am being generous here to Lindley by giving him this grade, as I believed he had a rough night. He had a horrific early turnover in the second minute and obtained the yellow card that let to the Asad goal, but he also settled into the club pretty well after being put in a position that he has never been placed in before — and in his MLS debut. Overall average game for Lindley, and hopefully these minutes were a stepping stone for progress in his talent.
MF, Victor “PC” Giro, 5 — Yes I know, he got sent off in the 41st minute, but PC was playing very well before his eventual red card. He was all over the field and played with rare and minor mistakes, but the red card as mentioned before did not allow him to play a full 90 minutes, let alone a full half. PC played well though, but a suspension for a game is ahead due to the red card.
MF, Will Johnson, 6 — Johnson was relatively quiet, but he also kept the midfield intact after the PC red card. Johnson had three fouls through the entire game, so his presence was felt physically but not much in terms of set pieces and important plays. Not much to say here about Johnson, an average night for him.
MF, Yoshi Yotún, 7 — Yotún was easily the most versatile midfielder on the pitch, and beside the Pinho goal, he had the best opportunity on net but was denied by Frederic Brilliant right on the line. Besides that, Yotún was all over the pitch and created numerous opportunities for himself and others. He officially finished with two shots and two chances created, with a game-high 95 touches.
F, Chris Mueller, 6.5 — For it being his first MLS game, Mueller played solidly. He was eventually subbed off for Stéfano Pinho, but while he was on the pitch, he showed flashes of what is to come from the youngster. Mueller had a few good opportunities, his best being a clean header win that went wide right. He had other good chances as well, but the ball never found the back of the net for the rookie. He also put in a dangerous cross for Meram. Overall, a very solid outing for his first MLS start.
F, Justin Meram, 8 (Man of the Match) — Meram was a thorn in the side of the D.C. United defense, creating numerous attacks that didn’t result in any goals, but kept D.C. on their toes. Meram’s ability to create opportunities in one-on-one situations was key, and he also sent in a few crosses that almost ended up in the back of the net as well. Meram showed his flexibility playing at striker instead of on the wing, which in the long run may help the Lions with the amount of injuries currently on the squad. Meram didn’t net a goal, but he did notch a secondary assist on Pinho’s goal and created a game-high four chances and fired a team-high three shots, while maintaining an 86% passing accuracy. His constant pressure and nifty nutmegs around the pitch gives him the edge as my Man of the Match.
F, Stefáno Pinho (58’), 7 — All credit to Pinho, who scored the game-tying goal, as he placed himself perfectly in the box for Spector to send in an easy assist and tie the game in stoppage time. Pinho did not start ahead of Chris Mueller, but he came on and played a very solid second half to help the Lions steal a point.
MF, Richie Laryea (66’), 6 — Laryea came on for Lindley, and played a great role in the midfield, only having one unsuccessful pass throughout his time on the pitch. He did have one shot that was way off target, but his overall tick-tack style of play was crucial for the Lions in the second half and he drew a couple of free kicks. Laryea was able to keep some plays alive with numerous recoveries and his overall style of play was solid. Good night for Richie, overall.
D, RJ Allen (81’), N/A — Allen did what he could do for only being on the pitch for about nine minutes, but he didn’t do anything wrong at all. He had two nice passes into the box in stoppage time that were deflected, but they kept D.C. honest in the comeback effort. Allen also played offensively due to the situation and was never really tested by D.C. on defense. Can’t fault Allen here at all, and he was a nice substitution option for Kreis.
Well, that’s what I thought about the match, lets see who you think was the Man of the Match. Vote below!
Who was your Man of the Match for Orlando City against D.C. United?
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