So close, and yet so far. If not for a wonky deflection from a long throw-in and an unfortunate (but correct) offside call, Orlando very well could have snuck out of Minnesota with three points in the bag.
Instead a point will have to do, and while I certainly would have taken a draw before the game if it had been offered to me (Minnesota has only lost once at home all year), the fact that Toronto, Montreal and New England all could only manage draws definitely made it feel like a missed opportunity. Anyway, on to my grades.
GK, Brian Rowe, 7.5 (MotM) — When it came to shot stopping, Rowe had about the best night he could have had. He saved five of the six shots he faced, and probably had no right to make two of them, parrying a close-range Darwin Quintero shot out of the danger area and getting a strong right glove to another close shot in the second half from Robin Lod. He was absolutely helpless on the goal, and while his distribution wasn’t the best on the night, without the two excellent saves he made Orlando wouldn’t have even sniffed the point it eventually brought home from Minnesota.
D, Kamal Miller, 6 — It was a solid if unspectacular night from Miller at left back. He grew into the game as the first half went on, even after getting nutmegged by Ethan Finlay. He played a particularly smart pass in the 34th minute to release Benji Michel down the wing, but lost his man at the back post just before halftime and was lucky that the Lions didn’t concede because of it. He’s done well deputizing out wide, but the team has missed the width that Joao Moutinho is usually capable of providing.
D, Robin Jansson, 7 — Jansson was his usual composed and steady self in the center of defense. In the opening minutes of the match he did exceptionally well to pull back and hold the defensive line, catching his man offside in the process. He also made a number of clearances on balls played into the box and was very unlucky to have the goal come as a result of a deflection off his body.
D, Lamine Sané, 7 — Sané too provided exactly what we’ve come to expect from him this year — a solid and steady presence at the center back position. He passed the ball particularly well with an 88% connection rate on his passes, won two aerial duels, and, like his partner Jansson, he cleared the ball on a number of occasions. He even had a successful dribble to top off his well-rounded night.
D, Kyle Smith, 5.5 — Perhaps I’m nitpicking but for me Smith didn’t have the best night. The thing is, he played pretty well defensively, making a pair of tackles and blocking several would-be balls into the box. The problem for me came on the offensive side of the ball. He generally did a good job of getting forward but there were a couple occasions where his final ball into the box was lacking and sloppy passes led to the dissolution of at least two Orlando City attacks/spells of possession in the offensive half. I thought he improved after halftime and maybe his grade being low is simply because of how dangerous Ruan typically is on the right side of defense.
MF, Will Johnson, 6.5 — It was a fairly quiet night for Johnson. He made several good tackles on the edge of the box and passed at a great 89% rate, while doing a good job of clogging things up in the middle of the field. He began to tire in the second half though, which is rather understandable considering he spent his time on the field running as hard as he always does. His influence waned with his legs though, and James O’Connor was probably smart not to keep him on the field for the full 90.
MF, Nani, 6.5 — To be honest, this is a grade that I struggled with. For a lot of the first half Nani was marked quite tightly and it showed. He only had a 73% passing rate and was dispossessed on three occasions, and while he won a duel in the air he didn’t look as sharp as many of us are accustomed to seeing. With that being said he was much better in the second half after moving to his more comfortable wing position. He was also clever to get his body in front of Ike Opara to win the penalty kick and was equally calm when it came to slotting it away in the bottom corner. Hopefully the introduction of Mauricio Pereyra will mean the burden of creative duties is lessened.
MF, Sebas Mendez, 7 — Mendez was his typical self in defensive midfield. He did an excellent job of breaking up Minnesota attacks, recording four tackles in the process. He also had a passing accuracy of 93% and even managed to win an aerial duel — no mean feat when you’re listed at 5-foot-7. In general it was a good night for him, despite some loose passes in his own end, and, while he didn’t necessarily do anything spectacular, when you play the position he does, the less your name is called the better.
F, Benji Michel, 7 —I quite like what I’ve seen out of Michel for most of his time on the field this year and tonight was no different. He was lively and eager to run at defenders every chance he got, with three successful dribbles to show for it. On one of those dribbles he probably should have passed the ball wide to Robinho rather than having a shot at goal, but that sort of decision making should come as he matures. It was by no means a perfect game but he looked the most dangerous of the starting front three.
F, Dom Dwyer, 6 — It wasn’t the best night for Dom. While he won four aerial duels, much of what he was asked to do involved going up against center backs with a height advantage to try and win balls lofted out from the back. Still, he found himself in good positions on several occasions but was unable to get off a shot on the night. His passing accuracy of 60% also left quite a bit to be desired, and while he fought hard, it wasn’t a surprise to see his name come up on the substitutes board when it did.
F, Robinho, 6.5 — Perhaps y’all will disagree but I thought Robinho played rather well for the half that he was on the field. He completed two dribbles, made two tackles, passed at an 84% clip, and did exceptionally well to intercept a ball in the 37th minute, run at the defense and play a dangerous ball into the area. However, the Lions were in need of a formation change after halftime and him coming off for Mauricio Pereyra meant that Nani was able to play out wide where he’s more comfortable. It hurt my heart to see him being consoled on the sideline and he clearly still wanted to be out on the field trying to bring home three points.
MF, Mauricio Pereyra (46’), 6.5 — Pereyra came on for his Orlando City debut after halftime, replacing Robinho and slotting into the midfield. While he didn’t do anything especially spectacular, he did vital work pressing the ball and marking well through the center of the field. In addition he made a great tackle on the edge of the Loons’ box to keep the ball with Orlando, and completed a nifty little dribble out wide in the 88th minute to keep possession near midfield. He worked a nice give-and-go with Tesho Akindele deep in stoppage time that initially won a penalty until video review showed the Canadian was just offside.
F, Tesho Akindele (63’), 6.5 — Tesho had a much easier time of it when it came to hold-up play simply because he’s a bigger guy than Dwyer is, and he provided a better outlet that was sorely needed as the game wore on. He also showed absolutely fantastic awareness to play a first-time ball for Nani at midfield that sent him in behind the Minnesota defense and eventually resulted in him winning the penalty. He was disgustingly unlucky to be offside in the 94th minute, which negated a handball in the Loons’ box. He had a positive impact on the game overall though, and looks more and more like an extremely astute purchase.
MF, Carlos Ascues (78’), 6 — Ascues came on for Will Johnson to provide fresh legs in the middle of the field and help shut up shop for the remainder of the game. For the most part he did just that, clearing the ball several times and hassling Minnesota as the Loons tried to start attacks through the middle of the field. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to get up high enough to prevent Ike Opara from flicking on the long throw on which Orlando conceded. Still, it was a solid cameo from the Peruvian.
That’s how I saw things from the match. Please let us know your vote for the Man of the Match in the poll below.
Who was your Orlando City Man of the Match in the 1-1 draw on the road at Minnesota?
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