Full disclosure, this is my first time grading our lovely Lions in the few years I’ve been here. I was pretty pleased with the result to be honest. Head Coach James O’Connor rested a lot of his players, walked into Providence Park with a game plan, and executed it well for a 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers. There were some questionable decisions in the lineup and O’Connor had to adapt on the fly but ultimately Orlando City walked out of yet another road game with a result. But enough about O’Connor, here are your player grades from a strong defensive effort in Portland.
GK, Greg Ranjitsingh, 5 — Ranjitsingh’s performance was worrying. Watching him get anywhere near the ball made me hold my breath in fear things were going to go wrong. He was late in clearing balls and had a very uneasy moment where he nearly had an own goal in the first half. That being said, he’s on the road playing against some of the best forwards in the league and held them scoreless until the 82nd minute when he allowed a goal he really didn’t have a chance to save.
D, Danilo Acosta, 4 — It wasn’t a great night for Acosta who honestly didn’t have much to deal with on his left side of the pitch. He was defensively stout when the ball did come his way, but was caught ball watching on the goal. On the offensive side of things he was abysmal. Between giving the ball away or just blindly dribbling forward into traffic, it was easy to see why O’Connor prefers other options at the position.
D, Alex De John, N/A — In his little time on the field, De John did well clearing a corner and using his height to really impose himself over the smaller forward of Portland. But in the eighth minute a scary moment came as he went in to clear a low cross and was struck in the head by Brian Fernandez’s boot, immediately falling unconscious. It was tough to watch and he was taken out promptly after.
D, Kamal Miller, 6.5— Portland’s goal really soured a strong performance by Miller, who was able to get his head onto practically every cross that Portland had in their arsenal. At just 22 years old, he led that back line with authority and completing 21 of 23 passes (87.5%) put him in a tie for second in passing percentage with Robinho, just behind Uri Rosell (88.4%).
D, Kyle Smith, 6.5 — After De John came off, Smith had to shift more to a central defending role since O’Connor decided to leave his other center backs at home and boy did Smith step up to the plate. He was a force in the air and on the ground, making things difficult for Portland’s forward and backing up Will Johnson well on the right side, which got hammered all night long. He and Johnson tied for a game-high nine clearances each. Yes, his marking could have been better on Portland’s goal, but it shouldn’t overshadow a stellar night adapting to center back in Providence Park.
MF, Dillon Powers, 5.5 — It was a quiet night for Powers, which is never a bad thing for a midfielder in a defensive game plan. He served as rescue in a lot of cases, either making himself an outlet for the defense or a safety net for Robinho and Santiago Patino when needed.
MF, Uri Rosell, 7 (MotM)— It was another quality performance for Rosell, who seems right at home in the defensive system O’Connor likes to run when rotating the squad. He gummed up passing lanes, made life difficult for Portland’s forwards, and was so imposing that the Timbers had to play around him in most cases. The loss of De John brought him back often to support Smith and Miller and the trio became a wall in the center of the defense that the Timbers had to shoot over or around, making them send 16 shots off target. He led the club in passing percentage as noted above, hit eight of his nine long ball attempts, and had a team-high four interceptions to go with six clearances.
MF, Sacha Kljestan, 5.5 — The captain led Orlando in both touches (74) and passes (50), but it still didn’t seem like he had much of an impact in the match. Given the lineup and lack of offensive weapons for him to use, it’s understandable how he was kept quiet for most of the game. After all, Orlando barely had a third of the possession. Regardless, he wasn’t able to unlock Portland’s defense when the opportunity did come along.
F, Robinho, 6 — It was honestly a rough outing for the newest Lion in his first 40 minutes or so. He wasn’t a dangerous presence or a threat, but was a presence nonetheless late in the first half when he caught Portland sleeping, turned over Zarek Valentin, and served up the cross that led to Orlando’s goal. After that, he became noticeably more comfortable on the ball as he settled in. He seems like the type of winger who will take a mile for every inch given, but can struggle to make opportunities himself. It speaks well of him that he completed 87.5% of his passes to his brand new teammates in his first ever game as a Lion.
F, Santiago Patiño, 5 — The goal scorer, Patiño did his job of being in the right place at the right time as center forward. Credit goes to him for doing his job and being the most threatening of the three forwards, but there wasn’t anything really spectacular from him. Which is more than fine, especially considering he scored. But it becomes less fine when paired with his turnover late that led to Portland scoring. He was a nuisance for the Timbers defense, but struggled to do much of anything with the ball at his feet.
F, Benji Michel 4.5— Michel must have gone to the Acosta school of offense because he dribbled into traffic on multiple occasions. Those failed attacks were coupled with being knock downs and hard falls as the Timbers defense was physical all night long. Maybe he thinks he’s faster than he actually is or maybe the turf hurt a little harder than he expected, but it was a tough night for the Homegrown product, who put in a full 90 on the road after doing the same on Saturday against Columbus.
D, Will Johnson (12’), 6.5 — Forced to come on for De John early in the game, his versatility was certainly leaned on as he filled a loose right back position. He did well for the most part, keeping the trio of Fernandez, Sebastian Blanco, and Diego Valeri from causing too much havoc. He gets bonus points for running hard to keep track of those quick Portland forwards, although his exhaustion started to show as the game wore on. He deserves a nice, long nap home after making nine clearances to go with two tackles, three interceptions, and two blocked shots. He also had one of Orlando’s two shot attempts in the game.
F, Tesho Akindele (80’), N/A — It’d be a little unfair to grade Akindele on just 10 minutes of work (plus stoppage time) but he provided just what Orlando needed to see the game out. With height, a talent for holding the ball, and a willingness to put his body on the line, he gave a nice boost to Orlando.
MF, Sebas Mendez, (64’) 6 — Coming on for Robinho, Mendez was a needed boost to the defense on the right side. He helped slow down the tempo of the game and eased some of the pressure off Johnson. Like most players last night, Mendez’s contributions were quiet and understated given how much defense was focused on.
I think that’ll do it! Who was your Man of the Match? Be sure to vote in the poll and let us know why in the comments!
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