Orlando pressed high until its first goal, and then dropped back, stifling FC Dallas in the first half. The club then held on during the second half assault from FC Dallas, and eventually put the game away.
Here is how each player performed in the club’s first win over FC Dallas and my pick for Man of the Match.
GK, Brian Rowe, 6 — Rowe was not tested much in the first half. However, in the second half, FC Dallas started getting forward, and his save in the 52nd minute was a beauty. He also did well to come off his line in the 58th minute to take care of a ball making its way through the Orlando defense. Rowe had a very solid match, with some important saves. Fortunately for Orlando, he wasn’t asked to do more. Unfortunately, it means that he didn’t have a chance to earn a higher grade.
D, João Moutinho, 5 — Moutinho was the weak link in the back line, for me. He got caught flat-footed several times, giving FC Dallas its best chances of the night. His clearance header in the 60th minute barely went 10 feet. He just didn’t have a great match, and was lucky that teammates like Robin Jansson and Will Johnson were there to cover for him. He was the busier fullback as Dallas ran a lot of its attack through Michael Barrios down his side. Moutinho finished with a game-high six tackles, two interceptions, and a clearance. On the other end he created one chance. His passing was a bit off at 69%.
D, Robin Jansson, 6 — A recovery clearance in the 38th minute resulted in a corner that amounted to nothing. It seems like either Jansson or Lamine Sané will have a slightly better match than the other, but I think that the two are becoming quite a pairing, and it’s more difficult to grade them seperately. Jansson had a bit of a more difficult job, as he had Moutinho to his left. He finished with a tackle, an interception, and three clearances.
D, Lamine Sané, 6 — Sané was the clear leader on the back line, directing traffic, and generally doing a good job. He was almost called for a handball in the second half, but after video review, referee Silviu Petrescu said there was no penalty. He continued to make important clearances, especially late in the match as FC Dallas was pressing for the equalizer. He finished with two tackles, one interception, two clearances, and a blocked shot. He was the best passer on the back line (89%).
D, Ruan, 7.5 (MotM) — Early on, Ruan got forward in the attack, as he is accustomed to do. He earned a free kick, and then in the 13th minute, he put in what might have been his best pass of the season to Tesho Akindele for Orlando’s first goal of the match, and first ever against FC Dallas. Ruan also played better on defense this match, ranging up and down the right side of the field. He regularly outpaced FC Dallas attackers to get the ball up and out of Orlando’s area. Late in the game, he still had plenty of speed and continued to give FC Dallas fits with his runs up the right side. Ruan created two chances, passed at a 75% clip, had two dribbles, and drew three free kicks. On defense, the Brazilian made three tackles, three clearances, and an interception. It was his best game in over a month.
MF, Will Johnson 7 — Will Johnson continued to do his normal Energizer Bunny shift. He defended well, backing up other players like Moutinho, often dropping between the two center backs. He just missed a shot wide on a late run in first half stoppage time. He drew a game high six fouls, defended, played well in the midfield, and generally did what Will Johnson usually does. He was everywhere, made good passes, and contributed on both sides of the field. If Ruan hadn’t had maybe his best match, Will would have won MotM. He created a scoring chance, was a 94% passer, and chipped in a tackle, an interception, and two clearances.
MF, Carlos Ascues, 6.5 — It was quite a night for Carlos — especially in stoppage time, when he was in the right place at the right time to take Sacha Kljestan’s beautiful back heel pass and seal the win for Orlando City. He was part of an effective midfield for Orlando City, and he pressed higher than usual this match. It did take a while for him to take advantage of the advanced position that James O’Connor had him playing, but when he did, he scored his first goal. Ascues created one chance — setting up an Akindele opportunity that nearly doubled the lead in the second half — scored on his only shot attempt, and drew two fouls. He also finished with four tackles and two clearances. Aside from one scary back pass in the second half, he played a solid game, though his 70% passing could have been better.
MF, Sebas Méndez, 6 — Méndez had a fairly good game, as did the rest of the midfield. He passed well (90%), with most of the distribution going forward. He had some good defensive fouls, but did give up a free kick on the handball early in the match, and he earned a yellow card in the 69th minute. If not for those mistakes he would have earned a higher grade. He led the team with three interceptions and added two clearances.
F, Tesho Akindele, 6.5 — The former FC Dallas player not only scored on his former team, but he also set a new career high with his eighth regular season goal of 2019. The goal came in the 13th minute from a beautiful pass from Ruan. He hit a few of his team-high five shot attempts off target throughout the match. He also had a golden chance in the 70th minute, but he knocked it right at Jesse González, who blocked it with his body. He had a chance to send in Dom Dwyer alone in the first half but put too much on the pass. He had a 69% passing rate and earned a secondary assist on the Ascues goal. He chipped in an interception and a clearance on defense.
F, Dom Dwyer, 6 — As usual, Dom was harried and fouled by the opposition, though he did get some defensive revenge with a nifty bicycle kick clearance in the second half. He did well to get out of the way when Johnson made a late run to take a shot in the first half. Dom did Dom things in the box in the 67th minute, trying to make something happen, but he couldn’t quite find that little bit of space needed to do so. He did have one shot but it went wide right. He didn’t get much service or many touches (13) but he found other ways to contribute. He had two defensive clearances and was good when he pressed.
F, Chris Mueller, 5 — Cash was largely absent from this match. His movement off the ball was good, and his passing was fine, he just wasn’t as big a part of the attack as he has been in other matches. He finished with three bad touches, no chances created, and no shot attempts, although he did pass at a 92% clip. Defensively, he added a tackle and an interception.
MF, Sacha Kljestan (54’), 6.5 — Kljestan was brought on to try and get control of the game back after FC Dallas dominated the first few minutes of the second half. His back heel pass to Ascues for Orlando’s second goal sealed the match for the Lions. If there was an award for Pass of the Week, or Assist of the Week, Sacha’s and Ruan’s would be neck and neck. Kljestan’s assist gave him 92 in his MLS career, passing Cobi Jones and taking eighth place among the all-time league leaders. Aside from his assist, he attempted one shot that was just over the bar. He was an 88% passer and made one interception.
F, Nani (72’), 6 — As the only Lion to have played in the MLS All-Star Game, James O’Connor left the captain on the bench until late. Nani did well to hold the ball up and help get the Lions back onto the attack in the second half, and drew defenders to him opening up the attack for his teammates. He completed two dribbles, but created no chances and took no shots.
MF, Kyle Smith (94’), N/A — Smith came on for Iron Man Will Johnson with only a few minutes to play, and wasn’t on the pitch long enough to grade fairly.
It was a great night to be in purple, and a well earned three points at home. Such points have been hard to come by. Do you agree with my choice for the game’s Man of the Match or did someone else deserved the honor? Have your say by voting in the poll or letting us know in the comments!
Who was your Orlando City Man of the Match in the Lions’ 2-0 home win over FC Dallas?
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