The Lions have officially made it through the first quarter of the 2019 MLS regular season. Sitting in sixth place in the East heading into last night’s late games, Orlando City looks to be blossoming right before our eyes. But how have the players performed to date? Below is a look at the players, by position, minutes, relevant statistics, and of course, their current average grade from the collection of The Mane Land Player Grade articles. This will focus on the first nine matches only.
This will be shortest section by far, as Brian Rowe is the only player to appear between the woodwork for Orlando City this season. Playing all 810 minutes to date for the club, Rowe had 30 saves and a 66.7% save percentage. He currently has a 6.5 average player grade, and was the MotM for the Week 3 effort against Montreal Impact. His grades have been pretty consistent of late, and if anything, appear to be on an upward trend. As the defense in front of him continues to gel, there is no doubt so will Rowe.
This is where it begins to get a bit crowded, as every defender on the roster has been on the pitch long enough to garner grades in at least three matches. I have summarized below all of the defenders and relevant information to date:
- Danilo Acosta — 6.17 in 254 minutes in three starts with two fouls committed and shown one yellow.
- Carlos Ascues — 5.63 in 300 minutes in four starts with three fouls committed and no cards shown.
- Alex De John — 6.17 in 246 minutes in three three starts with three fouls committed and shown one yellow card.
- Robin Jansson — 6.58 in 540 minutes in six starts with five fouls committed and two yellow cards.
- Kamal Miller — 5.83 in 270 minutes in three starts with one foul committed and no cards shown.
- Joao Moutinho — 6.75 in 527 minutes in six starts with eight fouls committed and no cards shown. Joao also has two assists and six shots.
- Shane O’Neill — 5.58 in 524 minutes in six starts with five fouls committed and two yellow cards.
- Lamine Sané — 6.40 in 384 minutes in four starts and one substitution with five fouls committed and 2 yellow cards.
- Kyle Smith — 5.17 in 142 minutes in two starts and three appearances as a sub with three fouls committed and one yellow card.
- Ruan — 7.07 in 661 minutes in seven starts and one appearance as a sub, with nine fouls committed and no cards show. Ruan also has one assist and four shots.
- Nani — 7.17 in 657 minutes in seven starts and two substitute appearances with five goals and four assists.
- Will Johnson — 6.42 in 457 minutes in six starts with five shots.
- Sacha Kljestan — 6.50 in 629 minutes in seven starts and two substitute appearances with one goal and one assist on seven shots.
- Sebas Mendez — 6.81 in 614 minutes in seven starts and one substitute appearance with three shots.
- Oriol Rosell — 7.10 in 389 minutes in four starts and one substitute appearance with three shots.
Midfield seems to be to most solid area to date as the vast majority of MotM votes have gone to midfielders. Also, do not fall into the trap of thinking that a 4-3-3 changes a player’s listed position. As it stands in the first quarter, Nani has three MotM selections (plus an extra from the readers), and then Sacha, Sebas, and Uri each have one. Also, I will honestly question folks to challenge the Will Johnson grade, simply because I honestly think he deserves a higher grade at this point in the season.
At this point, did anyone think that we would be arguing over the best forwards for the squad? I will honestly say that I did not, but I also did not expect the grades to average out as they have for the men assigned to run up top.
- Tesho Akindele — 6.43 in 430 minutes in six starts and one substitute appearance with six shots, two goals and one assist.
- Dom Dwyer — 6.38 in 614 minutes in four starts and five substitute appearances with 11 shots on goal, three goals and two assists.
- Chris Mueller — 6.81 in 450 minutes in five starts and three substitute appearances with two goals and two assists.
In the first quarter of the season, forwards, or at least players in the front three, have been Man of the Match only twice, and guess who has both nods? If you said Chris Mueller, you would be correct. Those accolades came in Week 1 and Week 5. We haven’t seen enough of Santiago Patino or Benji Michel to dole out a quarter grade for them.
Playing a bit of devil’s advocate, the best XI would be (based on some form of a hybrid 4-3-3 that easily shifts to a 3-5-2):
Moutinho, Jansson, Sané, Ruan
Rosell, Kljestan, Mendez
Nani, Akindele, Mueller
But hey, this is just the quarter season grades, right? There is still a lot of football to play, and I am sure the grades will change drastically in the next nine weeks. Who has been your player to watch in the first quarter of the MLS season?