Orlando City pulled off a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Sporting Kansas City at Exploria Stadium to add important three points to the team’s 2019 Major League Soccer campaign. The Lions played an overall solid match even though they had a scary drop in performance in the second half.
Here’s how I rated each player in the match:
GK, Brian Rowe, 7 — It was a textbook performance from the goalkeeper as he was absolutely secure in all three saves he had to make in the match. His good positioning also played a part in Benny Feilhaber’s missed opportunity late in the second half.
D, Kamal Miller, 6.5 — The Canadian had another decent performance at the left back spot as he handled Sporting Kansas City’s attempts on his side, even with the dangerous Johnny Russell and Graham Zusi. His participation was limited, though and he didn’t offer too much going forward.
D, Robin Jansson, 7.5 — The Swede was solid for most of the night as he did a good job in containing Sporting Kansas City’s offense by registering two tackles, two interceptions, and six clearances. His only hiccup happened in the first minutes of the second half, when he let Erik Hurtado run behind his back in what could have been a dangerous chance, but he recovered in good fashion with a sliding tackle and blocked a dangerous pass near the end of the match.
D, Lamine Sané, 7.5 — The Senegalese was an absolute stud for the Lions as he commanded the back line and was pretty much flawless during the entire match. Sané, who also did a fine job with the ball by connecting 83.7% of his passes, was all over the stats sheet with impressive three interceptions and six clearances — many of those in the air.
D, Kyle Smith, N/A — After playing one of his best matches in an Orlando City uniform last weekend, the fullback had no more than eight minutes on the field as he had to be replaced after a collision with Sporting Kansas City’s goalkeeper Tim Melia that resulted in a head injury. He went off to get stitched up and stop the bleeding.
MF, Carlos Ascues, 8 (MotM) — The Peruvian played a great match as he was active in the defensive end with two interceptions and five clearances and also played a pivotal role in the game-winning goal with a smart run toward the opposition’s box and a well-weighted pass to Akindele. In the second half, with the team struggling, he found ways to keep the ball in the offensive half of the field and even drew fouls.
MF, Uri Rosell, 7.5 — Like Ascues, the Spaniard played a pivotal role in Orlando’s win as he increased his offensive presence to make up for the two defensive-minded fullbacks. On his best moment, he found the Peruvian inside the penalty box with an accurate pass, one of several which gave him a team-high 88.7% efficiency when connecting with his teammates. He received a secondary assist on the goal.
MF, Nani, 7 — The Portuguese was very active in the final third as he led the Lions in touches with 82 and navigated through the center and both sides, but almost got in trouble after he earned a yellow card for an unnecessary argument with Felipe Gutierrez and fouled the Chilean on the following play to concede a free kick in his own end.
MF, Tesho Akindele, 7.5 — The forward played an important two-way role on the left side of the field, helping the team on both ends of the field. His reading and off-the-ball movement before the goal were excellent. He played in more of a central role in the last minutes and was less involved in the team’s actions.
MF, Chris Mueller, 5 — The winger brought his usual energy to start the match, but started fading as the first half went on and ended it with a subpar performance and little engagement in the team’s best offensive plays. He was replaced by Benji Michel at halftime.
F, Dom Dwyer, 5.5 — Playing against his former club, the striker started the match in the worst possible way by misplacing an easy header inside the six-yard box. The hustle was always there as he fought with the defenders all night but the production wasn’t anywhere close to ideal. He did manage to help Akindele find space for the goal by dragging defenders away and he attempted a team-high three shots.
D, Shane O’Neill (12’), 6.5 — The center back came in out of position and did what most would have expected of him at the fullback spot — focused on defense and didn’t take many chances going forward. For someone who plays in a different position, he did a fine job, even when faced with faster opponents.
F, Benji Michel, 5.5 (46’) — The forward subbed in for Mueller and played wide on the right flank. He tried to use his pace against SKC’s defenders but wasn’t successful in most of his attempts and was caught offside a couple of times.
MF, Sacha Kljestan (74’), 5.5 – The veteran came in late for Dwyer and had a great chance to double Orlando’s lead in a counter-attack, but didn’t finish it with enough power and saw his shot cleared off the goal line.
That’s how I saw the performances in Orlando’s win over Sporting. Please vote for your Man of the Match below.
Who was your Orlando City Man of the Match in the Lions’ 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City?
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