The Lions traveled not only west, but up, to battle the Colorado Rapids at altitude today. It was looking a bit scary for the first 10-15 minutes, but once the boys settled down a bit, it was certainly a match dictated by the Lions. They held 56% of possession, and led in almost every other statistical category. These were three big road points, and not just to extend the winning streak to five matches.
So without further ado, lets dig into how the Lions fared this evening:
GK, Joe Bendik, 7.5 — Joe got some help from the post in the 18th minute, and had some great saves. Had a big save from distance in the 23rd minute, and what could only be considered a superhuman effort in the 64th minute. Was a definite contender tonight for MotM, but a few mistakes, primarily in distribution, kept him out of the final running.
D, Mohamed El-Munir, 8.5 (MotM) — You should have known the day he was planning to have while watching him dribble through four defenders in the 10th minute. Mo was all over the pitch, all match, leading the team in touches and making the left side extremely dangerous for most of the game. His perfectly timed sliding save in the 92nd minute stopped what was probably a tying goal to help maintain the lead and hold on for that 2-1 victory.
D, Amro Tarek, 7.5 — After what looked to be a tough fall in the 14th minute after being undercut on a header, he settled nicely into position and played fantastic. In the 20th minute, after a tragic giveaway, tracked back to make a great defensive recovery and win the ball back. Picked up a yellow in the 86th, for a play I definitely question, but did not let that affect him for the limited time left in the match. He had some nervy minutes late, as did many of his teammates.
D, Lamine Sane, 7 — Had moments of greatness, had moments that left me scratching my head. Had some amazing defensive play, and then could have been the body that kept Dominique Badji onside. This obviously was something on his mind the remainder of the match as he worked hard to make up for the mistake. Solid performance, especially on the road, from the Lions’ central defense pair.
D, Will Johnson, 6.5 — Johnson was just as consistent as he typically is. His work ethic cannot be questioned, although there may have been a few times he found himself out of position. Overall, he played the right back position as best as we could expect.
MF, Cristian Higuita, 8 — Rough start for Cristian, and by start I mean the first 10 minutes. After that, and I will need to re-watch the match, something switched on and he became a completely different player. He was a force in the midfield, and not the force of old that we were all just waiting to get a card. This Higuita is a controlled, precise, defensive midfielder. If he had played a full 90, I am positive he would have been an even bigger contender for MotM. The central midfield position is getting more and more competitive by the week, and Higuita is making a strong case for continuing to start every week.
MF, Yoshimar Yotun, 8 — As with Higuita above, Yoshi was looking to make an impact today. With an unbelievable 96% passing efficiency, and a heat map that shows him all over the pitch, Yoshi was another solid contender for MotM. I was honestly a bit surprised when he grabbed the ball and placed it on the spot for the penalty, but after he buried it, I understood why. His game is only improving, and the team needs to maximize his time before Russia 2018.
MF, Justin Meram, 7 — Meram played very well today. Like so many other Lions, the first 10-15 minutes were spotty. At some points in the first half, it looked as though he was trying a bit to hard to force a pass, take one to many dribbles, or get just a bit too fancy and give up the ball. That being said, he still proved to be extremely dangerous, constantly drawing multiple defenders when he had the ball in the attacking third. He came close to opening his Orlando City account again with a diving Zac MacMath save off the post the only thing standing between him and the score sheet. He should have had an assist on a cross to Sacha Kljestan but the latter smashed his shot right at MacMath. And it was his heel flick into the box that led to the foul on Yoshi. The magic that he has shown is starting to show, and will only improve with time.
MF, Sacha Kljestan, 7 — Thoughts on Sacha mirror thoughts on Meram. It is obvious that for both of these veterans, when things get a bit tough, muscle memory takes over and the results may not look good. They may not look good yet. Just hold on everyone, because the 200-foot drop that leads into the epic double loop is looming. Eight matches is not enough for the entire midfield to have that psychic knowledge, but if this is the result this early, you will get no complaints from me. He notched the assist on Higuita’s goal, and looks more comfortable every match.
MF, Chris Mueller, 7 — Welcome to MLS, rookie. This seemed to be the message that the Rapids were trying to send to Mueller from the first whistle. The one thing that stood out to me was he handled it extremely well. He was the target of at least two defenders all match, and was professionally fouled more times than I could count. His demeanor never changed, he was all over the pitch, and he had some absolutely critical moments. His blocked shot and clearance off a 79th minute corner at the top of the box was amazing, and his dribble into the box and look at goal in the 82nd minute was close, just missing right as he tried the near post.
F, Dom Dwyer, 6.5 — Two moments stand out. The bicycle attempt, and how he handled himself after getting cup checked. It was a tough day for Dom, and it was obvious that the central defense pair from the Rapids were not going to let Dom back flip. Unfortunately for Dom, sometimes you need to realize this and find another way to impact the match, and he did. I give a ton of credit to him, because I am not sure I would keep my head after someone tried to ruin my chances of having another child. I guess we will all have to wait one more week to see number 101.
MF, Oriol Rosell (67’), 6.5 — Uri is starting to see more and more minutes, and it is getting more and more interesting to watch. He played a solid 23 minutes, but to be honest, he came in for a player that was on fire, so the grading is even more difficult. I am truly looking forward to seeing what Uri can do for a solid 90 minutes.
MF, Stefano Pinho (83’), N/A — Coming on for Meram with seven minutes left doesn’t give us much time to grade. He was in the box for a number of late Colorado corners, and his height was appreciated.
D, RJ Allen (91’), N/A — Again, not a lot of time to grade, but considering the outcome of the match didn’t change, job well done.
What else can I say, folks? That is five wins in a row, Orlando City currently sits third in the East, and the team has won two straight road matches for the first time since 2015. The boys just went a month undefeated and untied, and I cannot think of a better time, unless they can repeat in May. Let me know your thoughts below in the comments, and who you feel the Man of the Match was in the poll below.
Who was your Man of the Match in Orlando City’s 2-1 victory at Colorado Rapids?
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