The Lions collected an impressive three points in Philadelphia tonight. Dom Dwyer and Chris Mueller got their names on the score sheet yet again in a performance that won’t be forgotten by the supporters any time soon. Let’s take a look at the Lions’ individual performances in the team’s 2-0 road win over the Union.
GK, Joe Bendik, 8 (MotM) — Bendik is an excellent shot stopper, and that attribute was on full display as he made six saves and maintained a clean sheet against the Union. There was a notable moment early on in the first half that saw Bendik make a fantastic spot save but then gave a lackluster second effort to collect the loose ball. But in his defense, there weren’t any opposing attackers close enough to make the difference. Those types of potential lapses are easily avoidable but could just as easily be the difference in a close match. He was also shown a yellow for time wasting, but that’s just a bit of gamesmanship. Regardless, this was another great performance from the Lions’ keeper, worthy of a Man of the Match designation.
D, RJ Allen, 5 — I’m not quite sure how to accurately grade this one from Allen, who was subbed off in the 29th minute for Cristian Higuita after suffering what looked to be a hamstring or quad injury. He didn’t make much of an impact on this one. We’ll be monitoring the news on his injury, so stay tuned.
D, Amro Tarek, 6.5 — Tarek continues to impress in his starts in place of injured captain Jonathan Spector, displaying an adept ability to win hard tackles. This match was no different for Tarek, who defended well throughout the full 90 minutes and communicated well with his center back pairing, Lamine Sané.
D, Lamine Sané, 7.5 — Another one that continues to impress since joining the club is Sané, who has proven to be one of the Lions’ best off-season additions so far this campaign. His consistency in the back will likely prove to be key in the Lions’ push for the playoffs, and his leadership and camaraderie with his fellow center backs and wing backs is apparent.
D, Mohamed El-Munir, 6.5 — El-Munir’s pace is always the attribute that sticks out most to me, and it was featured in this match several times as he tracked his way back to win tackles that normal wing backs wouldn’t have made. He did get caught out of position occasionally, but nothing too critical this week and the positioning looks to be improving. He was shown a yellow for a rough tackle, but otherwise El-Munir looked solid overall on the night.
MF/D, Will Johnson, 6.5 — Johnson showed his versatility yet again when he was forced to switch to right back in the 28th minute due to the departure of Allen. Johnson defended well throughout the match and continues to display his usefulness in several positions around the pitch. His tenacity and work rate are unmatched, and this performance further highlights his resurgence as a utility player for Jason Kreis.
MF, Yoshimar Yotún, 6 — Yoshi didn’t have his best showing on the evening but his effort was unmatched. Under the circumstances, Yotún did his best to distribute to the attackers in front of him and push his team further up the pitch, but he lost the ball on several occasions and wasn’t strong in defense. Yoshi still provides Kreis with another utility player that can fill several holes in a pinch, and he he’s proven to be valuable in such occasions.
MF, Chris Mueller, 6.5 — The kid is killing it. After sparking the comeback win last week against the Portland Timbers, Mueller netted his second professional goal against the Union. Moving well and getting involved in the attack early, it was especially impressive to see Mueller play in a position that isn’t his preferred striker role. This was yet another encouraging and exciting performance from the rookie, and I can’t wait to see what he translates this confidence into.
MF, Sacha Kljestan, 6.5 — The defending MLS assist leader collected yet another against the Union, helping striker Dom Dwyer add to his impressive growing tally. His presence was a constant in the midfield throughout the entire match and performances like this show why Orlando made him such a priority during the offseason. I was especially encouraged by his connection with Dywer for his goal. If those two click, the score lines will be impressive.
MF, Stéfano Pinho, 5.5 — Pinho was dangerous in the first half, creating chances for his teammates and positioning himself well in the box on attacks down the opposite flank. Unfortunately, the halftime whistle also ended his hot streak in the attack, and he was subsequently removed for Justin Meram in the 64th minute.
F, Dom Dwyer, 7 — The magic man strikes again. In the 39th minute, Dwyer added to his tally by notching his fourth goal through three matches with a beautifully timed run followed by a calm finish into the bottom right hand corner of the net. Dwyer was a constant threat for the Union’s back line to monitor and that allowed extra space for the attacking midfielders behind him, notably Mueller, as he acted as a pseudo second striker at times.
MF, Cristian Higuita (29’), 6.5 — Higuita played well after coming on for an injured Allen halfway through the first half, swapping with Will Johnson, who moved to Allen’s position on the back line. Higuita was solid both defensively and in the attack, and deserves praise for his performance against the Union.
MF, Justin Meram (64’), 6 — Meram did some Meram things after being brought on in the 64th minute for Pinho. Meaning he found space, passed well, and put a few dangerous balls across the box for his teammates. Meram can make a difference as a starter or as a substitute, and this match showed how.
MF, Josué Colmán (89’), N/A — Colmán wasn’t allotted much time to make a stamp on the match, but he did make a stamp on a Union player. Colmán came on for Mueller and very quickly conceded a foul in an attacking position for the Union. He would have surely made a positive impact on the game had he been introduced earlier, but Kreis likely wanted to keep that final substitution in the back pocket until the last second in case of any injuries.
The Lions started this one slowly but certainly ramped up as time went on. With two successive wins strung together against decent opposition, the Lions will certainly be entering this week’s training sessions with an extra bit of confidence and an extra bit of swagger. San Jose, heads up.
Who was your Man of the Match in Orlando City’s 2-0 road win over the Philadelphia Union?
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