It feels like Groundhog Day reporting on Orlando vs. Philadelphia again. The rematch no one was overly excited for didn’t end in a loss! Not the match we wanted, but the match we needed? Hear me out: Orlando City struggles to win back-to-back, so while a draw isn’t a win, there’s hope for the Open Cup match on Wednesday? Yeah? No, this was a tough draw to accept as the Lions fought hard to come up from behind only to lose the lead in the 90th minute in true Lion fashion. Thank goodness for Brian Rowe, am I right? Here’s how they played according to me, for what it’s worth.
GK, Brian Rowe, 8.5 (MotM) — Rowe couldn’t stop that Fabian goal in the fourth minute but we quickly saw him stop what could have been an early second in the 10th minute when a Carlos Ascues turnover led to a Kacper Przlbyko shot. Rowe made another great save in the 35th when he tipped it right over. Rowe stopped the ball twice in two minutes to deny Kai Wagner and Fafa Picault’s attempts to get a second for the Union, only to shut down their attempts again in the 58th. It was his grasp in a moment of desperation that saved the Lions the point in 93rd minute, when he somehow got a finger on the ball to deny Philadelphia the win. I’ve watched the save on Jack Elliott’s header at least 50 times and I’m still in shock.
WB/D, Danilo Acosta, 5.5 — Try as he might, Acosta couldn’t make anything happen from some of his long balls up to the top. One clearance, four crosses, six long ball attempts, and a key pass had Acosta in the middle of a lot of it, but not much else.
D, Kamal Miller, 5.5 – Miller got the start tonight in the Orlando City musical chairs act. Miller’s time on the pitch saw one interception, four clearances, a blocked shot, and 75% passing accuracy. It was not a wild night out, but not a silent one either.
D, Alex De John, 6.5 — De John also got the start tonight for the first time in a while. He had the second-highest passing accuracy at 82%, three long ball attempts, a team-high nine clearances, and a blocked shot. Not a bad showing for the defender.
D, Shane O’Neill, 5.5 — O’Neill had a tough match, not because he wasn’t performing well, but because he just kept getting knocked around. Picault’s head to his face in the 24th had him down for a bit but he played on. In the 62nd minute, O’Neill went down again, possibly a culmination of everything coming at him in this match. He left the field with trainers as Nani came on in his place. In his time on the field he had four clearances, a tackle, four long ball attempts, and 73% passing accuracy.
WB/MF/D, Kyle Smith, 5.5 — In a surprising turn of events, Kyle Smith fired a shot off early in the second half, but saw it sail over the bar. His cross in the 80th minute that was blocked out for the corner — you know the one! — resulted in the play that put the Lions up for the first time all match. Heartbreak ensued as Smith got caught in between closing down Matthew Real and staying in position to mark the oncoming Przybylko, leading to the equalizer in the 90th minute. He had two tackles, one clearance, 74% passing accuracy this time out.
MF, Carlos Ascues, 5.5 — It was not the Peruvian’s best performance. An early turnover led to what could have been a quick second for the Union. His minutes saw a 79% passing accuracy, one tackle, two interceptions, and a blocked shot. He also lost track of Przybylko on the late equalizer.
MF, Uri Rosell, 8 — It was not very kind of the Union to beat up on Uri Rosell so much on this, his birthday! Rosell saw a team high in touches with 67, and had a team-high passing accuracy at 91%! Additionally, he finished with two tackles, two interceptions, and a clearance. I said it just last week and I’ll say it again, I love Uri in the midfield. He’s solid and dependable. A close second for my MotM, but Rowe’s denial of the Union’s win gave him the edge for me, so you know that was hard for me!
MF, Dillon Powers, 6 — Dillon Powers saw the starting XI for the first time in a few matches. His corner shot in the 42nd minute saw too much power and led to nothing for the Lions. Powers finished with two clearances, an offside call, and 78% accuracy on his 45 passes. He did well to hold his own out there.
F, Dom Dwyer, 7.5 — In his first start since May, Dom came to play. He was run down in the 27th minute, earning a free kick. Acosta crossed the ball up to Dwyer from distance and he got a head on it but saw the ball fly over the net. He had another shot in the 49th where we saw Acosta cross behind him and he made another bicycle attempt against the Union, but making poor contact sent it over again. In what may be the most contact we’ve seen in such a long time, Dwyer got another shot off in the 60th but it was just wide. This shot had ESPN+ announcers repeating, “They’ve got to keep an eye on Dwyer, they cannot lose sight of him.” Then bam! Without even looking, Dom headed in a beautiful ball from Nani’s free kick.
F, Benji Michel, 6.5 — Benji Michel was taken down by Wagner in the 66th minute after he made a great run that led the Lions to the oh-so-important free kick. His time on the pitch saw one key pass, one interception, and a 69% passing accuracy.
MF, Nani (64’), 8 — Three minutes into game play for Nani, he took the free kick earned by Michel, assisting Dom’s equalizer. You know the song by Miley Cyrus, where she sings the line, “She’s just being Miley?” Well, he’s just being Nani, as he worked hard to win the ball for throw-ins, and taking corners that led to goals, that’s all.
F, Chris Mueller (74’), 7.5 — Mueller got his head on the corner kick in from Nani, which was blocked by Blake, but Patino was able to tap it in. Always the perfect infusion off the bench, pace of play changed a bit when Cash took the field. He finished with 78% passing accuracy and all heart.
F, Santiago Patino (80’), 6.5 — In his first minute of game play, on his first touch, Patino tapped it in, and has officially opened his account with Orlando City, helping to put the Lions up late in the second half. If only he’d marked Real instead of Fontana late, perhaps we could have seen a different result.
Those second-half Lions, yes please! These Lions connected on set pieces! I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that before. Agree or disagree with my ratings? Let me know in the comments and don’t forget to vote for your Man of the Match!
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