To put it kindly, that was not fun. Watching Orlando City play a sloppy, lazy match and waste opportunity after opportunity is never any fun. This 1-0 defeat to Wayne Rooney United — oops, make that D.C. United — feels especially miserable since it provided a very unwelcome flashback to the last time the Lions were at Audi Field. It’s hard to grade a squad of players who didn’t really seem interested in playing soccer tonight, but I’ll have a go at it.
GK, Brian Rowe, 6 — I believe Rowe to be the most difficult player to grade after this match. Had it not been for two times that the veteran goalkeeper made the incorrect choice to come way too far out of his box (the Rooney goal and the VAR-disallowed Ulises Segura goal), Rowe might have been my Man of the Match. His excellent back-to-back reaction saves in the 30th minute certainly kept Orlando City in the game, as did the two times he correctly came out of his box in the 56th and 60th.
D, Kyle Smith, 6.5 — Seeing Smith as the starting left back with Danilo Acosta on the bench was a bit odd to me. I have to say, however, that it wasn’t necessarily a bad call by Head Coach James O’Connor. Smith was the quiet, steady defender on the pitch tonight, starting as early as the third minute, when he fought to escort the ball out for a goal kick while under heavy pressure from D.C.’s attacker. He didn’t get into the attack in the same ways the injured Joao Moutinho, or perhaps Acosta, would have, but Smith’s five tackles led the team.
D, Robin Jansson, 5.5 — This was not Jansson’s best game as a Lion. It wasn’t his worst either. He definitely didn’t close down Rooney when he should’ve, such as the 41st minute when he allowed Rooney to rip a shot that sailed high and right of the goal. That was an issue shared by others below too. Jansson had two good chances to get on the score sheet and skied both of the headers from corners in the second and 84th minutes. No tackles, two interceptions, and one clearance illustrate that the viking defender had an uninspired night.
D, Lamine Sané, 5.5 — In the opposite conundrum I had with Rowe, I planned to give Sané a lower score until his brilliant goal-saving 68th-minute tackle on Luciano Acosta. That tackle alone could have won him MotM had he not decided to, much like Jansson, let Rooney have all the time and space he needed to make plays. See minutes 6 and 19 for two great examples. Sané also lost a ball to Rooney in the 73rd that a man of his stature should never have lost to a man of Rooney’s stature. That ball ended up in the back of the net as well, only to be called back by VAR because of an offside.
D, Ruan, 5 — This was an uncharacteristically off night for Orlando City’s newest golden boy. Ruan never looked particularly threatening making runs down the right, and was shut down by D.C.’s defenders the few times he got into potentially dangerous areas. His 26th-minute yellow card for a horrible sliding tackle on Joseph Mora was bad enough that a red card wouldn’t have been unwarranted. In the 82nd minute, Sacha Kljestan placed a perfect ball on Ruan’s head at the edge of the six yard box. Unfortunately, the right back chose to attempt heading it across the face of the goal instead of putting the header on frame.
MF, Carlos Ascues, 4.5 — I don’t think anyone complained when O’Connor subbed Ascues off for Uri Rosell in the 70th minute. Most fans were probably screaming for it to have happened sooner. I’ve been one to defend Ascues in the past. His performance in this match makes that very hard. Ascues was part of the Jansson and Sané trifecta that continually allowed Rooney tons of space. Surprisingly, the defensive midfielder did manage four tackles, an interception, and a clearance although those numbers certainly don’t make up for wasting a chance to shoot after rounding Bill Hamid, or his terrible shot in the 20th minute. The only redeeming play I saw from Ascues was in minute 58 when his cross went right to Tesho Akindele’s foot in front of goal.
MF, Sacha Kljestan, 6 — Old Mr. Mustache had himself a very subdued night. I actually didn’t have any notes written about him until his beautiful 82nd-minute cross to the head of Ruan. Kljestan played like a less passionate Will Johnson, doing what was asked of him and not really anything else. His 67 passes, with two of them being key passes, led the team and he also provided three tackles. The game’s second yellow card was given to Kljestan in the 89th for a needlessly bad tackle at the corner of Orlando City’s 18-yard box.
MF, Dillon Powers, 7.5 (MotM) — The formerly headbanded one continued his great form with another outing worthy of the MotM title. Powers was the only midfielder who seemed to play with heart and drive throughout the match. With 77 touches, he trailed only Nani on the night. Both of his shots weren’t on goal, though at least he actually attempted them unlike some of the Orlando City attackers. The midfielder put in a super cross that landed right on Chris Mueller’s head at minute 67. Powers was also the only Lion that wanted to shut down Rooney, providing two interceptions in the 72nd and 92nd minutes on passes destined for the D.C. star. He capped off his game with a gorgeous steal from Rooney in the 93rd that firmly cemented Powers as my MotM.
F, Nani, 7 — Nani did Nani things for the majority of the match. I’m sure many will have him as their MotM. Had he been a bit more selfish at times, I may have had him as mine as well. The Portuguese world beater had seven insane dribbles that were the best soccer on the pitch for either squad tonight. Nani took four shots, with one on goal, but I fully believe he should have taken more himself instead of consistently looking for the cross. A few additional shots along the lines of the 17th-minute laser from outside the 18, and I’m certain that the captain would have added his name to the score sheet.
F, Tesho Akindele, 5.5 — Add Akindele to the list of players who didn’t appear to want to go all out this match. The striker was invisible for large portions of the first half. A curling shot from the top of the 18 in the 40th minute forced a save from Bill Hamid. It was Akindele’s only shot on goal for the match, and 50% of his total shots. On Ascues’ lone decent play, he put a cross right on Akindele’s right foot as he stood directly in front of goal in the 58th minute. Somehow, Akindele couldn’t connect and ended up falling down next to Hamid almost on the goal line with the ball still tangled up in his feet. Those of us watching simply had to shake our heads since it was another one of those nights for the Lions.
F, Chris Mueller, 6.5 — Unlike a lot of his teammates, Cash was his typical energetic self. Sadly, he reverted back to some old bad habits that didn’t do him or the team any favors. Mueller was way too hesitant to shoot again and it may have cost a goal or two. In the 20th minute, he was alone just to the left of the penalty area and took too many touches before deciding to lay the ball off for Ascues’ awful shot. Someone — maybe Nani or O’Connor — might have told Mueller to be more selfish late in the first half. After making a good run down the right in the 45th, he took a shot from the edge of the 18 and sent it into the stands. Mueller also put shots over the crossbar in minutes 67 and 77 before being subbed off in the 79th.
MF, Uri Rosell (70’), 5 — Getting Ascues off the pitch was a complete necessity. Trailing 1-0, I’m not convinced that Rosell was the right sub here. He didn’t provide any offensive help and did the minimum on defense, putting up big fat goose eggs in the interception, clearance, and tackle columns.
F, Benji Michel (79’), 4.5 — Michel may have wanted to follow up his first professional goal with another, but his performance tonight didn’t do anything to show that. The only thing the rookie did of any note was get called for a handball after getting an over-the-top ball right outside the 18.
F, Santiago Patino (83’), 5.5 — The best of the subs on the night. In my opinion, Patino should have been the first sub on at the 70th minute (or earlier). As soon as he came on, he took a shot that was blocked inside the box. Patino was motivated and might have made a bigger difference if given more minutes.
So that’s how I saw in the 1-0 road defeat to D.C. United. Make sure to vote for your Man of the Match in the poll below and tell us all why in the comments section.
Who was your Man of the Match in Orlando City’s 1-0 loss to D.C. United?
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