In a game that I have to play back to believe, the New York Red Bulls fell to Orlando City in the Lions’ first win of the season. For a recap of a match I still can’t believe you can head over to read Michael’s write-up. In my first attempt at player grades, here’s how the Lions fared as they scooped up three points in arguably the hardest venue in MLS.
GK, Brian Rowe, 7.5 — So many fans have had very mixed feelings about Brian Rowe. Tonight, I think he may have just proven why he’s Orlando’s starting keeper. The Red Bulls never let up, with nine shots, four of which were on target. He was quick to react in the sixth minute, punching the ball to safety, sending a message early on to the Red Bulls that he wasn’t going down easy. With three saves he helped lead OCSC to the team’s first clean sheet of the season.
D, Robin Jansson, 7 — Jansson made his MLS debut with the Lions tonight and made himself known on the pitch with two tackles, three interceptions, seven clearances and a 58% pass success rate (though the plan wasn’t to play out of the back, so the passing success suffered as a result). Jansson stretched the field with 15 long ball attempts off his left foot, finding space on the right wing to Ruan numerous times. He seemed calm, cool, and collected with every touch of the ball, and it was refreshing to see so much control. He earned a yellow in the 51st minute with a challenge on Omir Fernandez. I can’t wait to see more of his defending.
D, Alex De John, 6.5 — De John was back in the starting XI near his hometown in front of a huge crowd of supporters. Before going off in the 65th minute with a leg injury after a challenge, De John was having a decent game with three interceptions, six clearances, and a blocked shot. His pass success rate was 53%. No major errors made him a valuable member of the back line.
D, Shane O’Neill, 6.5 — With one tackle, nine clearances, and a blocked shot and a pass success rate of 51%, O’Neill seemed more like himself out there tonight providing much needed coverage in the back. He started an attack with a long pass off a Red Bulls set piece but Santiago Patino wasn’t able to complete it. He also started the sequence that led to Orlando’s goal, sending the ball up to Dom Dwyer.
WB, João Moutinho, 7.5 — Offensively Moutinho had the assist to Sacha Kljestan for the lone goal of the match. We saw three tackles, three interceptions, one clearance and a 47% pass success rate in his OCSC debut. There’s room for Moutinho to grow, but it was not a bad game and the assist set him above a seven in my book.
MF, Carlos Ascues, 6.5 — Ok, I’m probably going to hear it on this one. Ascues was all over the place tonight with his performance — three tackles, two interceptions, three clearances, two blocked shots, and a 50% pass accuracy. Some of his passes left me scratching my head and led to New York scoring chances. Then he goes and clears the ball off the line only three minutes after the goal from Kljestan to preserve the lead.
MF, Sacha Kljestan, 8 (MOTM) — With one goal, leading in touches, and a 73% pass success rate Sacha was the man Orlando City needed on the field tonight against his former teammates in their house. Some fans have strong feelings about Kljestan, but this is why he’s a starting player. He’s quiet a lot, but when he makes noise, he’s deafening. He was fun to watch tonight.
MF, Uri Rosell, 7 — Leading in tackles (four more than the next closest) and with three interceptions, five clearances, one shot attempt, and a 69% pass success rate in his first minutes of the season, Uri did not disappoint. Seven of his 13 long balls found their target and he had the second most touches at 73, just one fewer than Kljestan. There’s no doubt that against the Red Bulls tonight, Rosell made the midfield a tough place to play.
WB, Ruan, 6.5 — Ruan and his speed had a lot to offer the offense tonight while his play in the back was only OK. Defensively, Ruan saw two tackles, one interception, three clearances, and he finished with a 63% pass success rate. He had two shot attempts, one on target, making a few nice runs into the box that really opened the right side of the field up with his pace of play.
F, Nani, 6 — The man we all love to watch seemed to struggle a bit in the match as he continued to be taken down with no calls. It was hard for him to get anything past the New York defenders as they swarmed him any time he had the ball. Nani had a 69% pass success rate and not much else this match as he learned how physical MLS can be. It is evident however, that the chemistry is building between him and his teammates as he works to create space with his quality of play.
F, Santiago Patiño, 6 — Patiño played an hour against the Red Bulls in his first start and attempted one shot, which was blocked, and had an 80% pass success rate. The rookie used his size and pace to create multiple opportunities but was unable to finish as he adjusts to the physical demands of MLS play. He attempted only five passes but two of them created scoring chances.
F, Dom Dwyer (60’), 5.5 — Dom started the match on the bench after a rough game last weekend against Montreal. He came in for Patiño and in his time on the field he completed 75% of his passes (though only on eight attempts) and attempted a single shot, but it wasn’t on goal. But his presence was necessary, as his hold-up play was crucial in the buildup to Kljestan’s goal. He took down O’Neill’s long ball and sent it wide to Moutinho, then pulled the defense toward him as the cross went to Kljestan at the top of the box. He was also important in stoppage time as he carried the ball into the attacking third on multiple occasions to help burn some time off the clock and had a beautiful cross to Ruan, that almost resulted in a goal.
D, Lamine Sané (66’), 5.5 — Sané saw the 18 for the first time all season as he’s been recovering from an injury, coming on only to replace an injured De John in the 65th minute. He had one interception, four clearances, and picked up a yellow on a poorly timed clearance that resulted in Omir Fernadez running into his knee. His rust showed a little as he conceded a pair of late set pieces.
D, Kyle Smith (77’) , 5.5 — Smith came on to replace Nani in an attempt to shore up the defense to help preserve the win. In his short time on the field he saw one tackle, one interception, and one clearance with a 38% pass success rate. More importantly, he cleared the ball down the field whenever he had the chance, helping the Lions see the game off.
There you have it, Mane Landers, the first win of the season! Revel in it now, because Wayne Rooney and D.C. United are coming to try and take the win in the purple palace next weekend. We’re going to need some of the structure and pressure we saw from the team tonight if we’re to stand a chance. But before we get to that, please vote for your OCSC Man of the Match in our poll below.
Who was your Orlando City Man of the Match in the Lions’ 1-0 win at the New York Red Bulls?
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