Orlando City SC was taken down for the first time on the road in the 2019 Major League Soccer season, as the Lions lost 2-1 to Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium, in Sandy, UT. The Lions, who have been alternating from losses to wins over the last five matches, conceded two goals before Nani came off the bench and scored one, but were unable to get another one before the final whistle.
Here are our player grades in a night in which Orlando struggled with some individual defensive mistakes.
GK, Brian Rowe, 6 – The goalkeeper couldn’t really do much to avoid either of RSL’s goals, even if Sam Johnson’s finish was near him — but way too powerful. He did make a pair of important saves in the second half on low shots from Jefferson Savarino that kept the Lions alive in the game.
D, Kamal Miller, 6 — The Canadian tried to cover Ruan and was easily beaten by Sam Johnson inside the penalty box on RSL’s first goal. The opponents repeatedly found space behind him and, not by coincidence, scored the second on a play that started on the left side of Orlando’s defense. He finished with a tackle, an interception, a clearance, and a blocked shot.
D, Robin Jansson, 6.5 — The Swede lined up as the centerpiece of Orlando’s back line and had a busy night, trying to cover both Miller and O’Neill when they were beaten on the run, registering three clearances. He was the best passer among the starters with an 89.2% rating.
D, Shane O’Neill, 5.5 — O’Neill had trouble with Johnson’s pace for most of the night, but still managed to lead the team in clearances, with four. He had a decent chance to tie the game near the end, but misplaced his header big time. He had one interception and blocked one shot but his passing was at just a 66% rate.
WB, Joao Moutinho, 6 — The Portuguese showed some disconnection with Miller when defending Orlando’s left flank, but still managed to have three interceptions and three clearances. Offensively, he made an interesting run into the penalty box in the first half, but couldn’t place his header on target. He was a 72% passer on the night with one tackle, a team-high three interceptions, and three clearances.
MF, Sebas Mendez, 7.5 (MotM) — The Ecuadoran showed good energy in the center of the field and helped the Lions on both sides of the ball with a team-high six tackles and a smart and simple distribution (89%). He created a dangerous opportunity after winning the ball in Orlando’s attacking third and linking it with Sacha Kljestan, who failed to score.
MF, Will Johnson, 5.5 — The veteran didn’t have a terrible night, but it’s baffling that a player of his experience could be naïve enough to complain with the referee after a free kick and allow Damir Kreilach to quickly restart the match behind his back (Kljestan also did this). It began the play that resulted in Real Salt Lake’s goal. He was also one second late when trailing Kreilach. His passing was just 75% for the match and he made one clearance with no interceptions or tackles, but he did have one vital deflection to deny a cross.
MF, Sacha Kljestan, 6 — The captain tried to organize the team’s offense, but couldn’t really connect his final passes. He should have done better in the 31st minute, when he had a clear chance to tie the match, but fired right on Nick Rimando weakly, though it appeared he may have slipped a little while gearing up to take the shot. He played a little deeper in the second half, but it didn’t change much his performance. He was an 83% passer and made one tackle.
WB, Ruan, 5.5 — The Brazilian was very active at the start of the match with numerous runs down the right side, but didn’t manage to be really dangerous with his shots or crosses. On the defensive end, he seemed to have missed his step and made a weird mistake on RSL’s first goal. He was embarrassed by Albert Rusnak on a play near the sideline later in the match. He finished with three tackles and two clearances but only one of his eight crosses was accurate on a 78% passing night.
F, Chris Mueller, 5.5 — Cash was granted a starting spot after two impressive performances coming off the bench and wasn’t nearly as effective. The 22-year-old forward played on the left side of the field, but was taken off after being repeatedly dispossessed and with no shots fired towards RSL’s goal. He was a 69% passer with only one accurate cross on seven tries.
F, Tesho Akindele, 5 — The forward was nearly invisible in the first half, in which he had just 18 touches, which was a product of poor team play in the final third all night. The situation didn’t change to start the second half and Tesho was subbed out when James O’Connor decided to bring Dom Dwyer and Nani into the game. Akindele was just a 68% passer and he created one scoring chance on the night.
F, Dom Dwyer (56’), 6.5 — The striker entered the game with the team down two goals and seemed to be a little nervous, with multiple complaints with the referee and some arguments with RSL players. He never stopped fighting though, and forced RSL’s defense into some mistakes and drew the free kick that resulted in Nani’s goal. He took one shot but didn’t get it on frame and completed his only pass attempt.
F, Nani (56’), 7 — The veteran tried to instantly bring some energy off the bench and had a dangerous volley from outside the box in his first minutes, but kind of faded after it, struggling to create from the left side. He returned to his best in an important moment when he converted a free kick to put the Lions back in the game. He finished with the team’s best passing percentage (minimum two attempts) at 93%, and created one scoring chance.
MF, Josue Colman (77’), 5.5 — The young Paraguayan was tasked with providing a more reliable offensive threat on the right side for Orlando, but didn’t manage to produce either by combining with Ruan or when trying to dribble. He did create two chances but his passing overall was poor (29%).
This is how I saw the performances as the Lions headed west to play Real Salt Lake. Let me know where you agree and/or disagree in the comments below and be sure to vote for your Orlando City Man of the Match in the poll below.
Who was your Orlando City Man of the Match in the Lions’ 2-1 road loss to Real Salt Lake?
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