The Lions got mauled in San Jose last night and although I don’t disagree with James O’Connor’s assessment that it was like the team never left the dressing room for the first half, the perspective of a partial night’s sleep has me thinking that maybe the Western Conference’s second-place team is just that good.
San Jose has now gone 12 straight home games without a loss. The California side moves the ball with impressive speed and accuracy through the middle of the pitch and Orlando struggled to deal with that in the first 45 minutes of the match. By the time the Lions made some lineup changes and came out for the second half, the damage was done.
We know how the Lions did as a team. Here’s how I saw them individually:
GK, Brian Rowe, 6 — I didn’t think Rowe did anything particularly wrong. He made the saves he generally should make. He just didn’t provide the spectacular on a night when his teammates needed it. His best save of the six he made might have been kicking away a Cristian Espinoza left-footed effort in the 32nd minute after the Argentine had slickly bypassed a sliding Robin Jansson. He did manage to get a hand on Chris Wondolowski’s first goal but didn’t get enough of it to knock it off line. His distribution on the night was solid, hitting four out of seven long-ball attempts and his passing rate of 88% was good. Rowe didn’t get a lot of help. I strongly considered him for Man of the Match despite allowing three goals, which tells you what kind of night it was.
D, Kamal Miller, 5 — The Canadian rookie had been playing well but the Earthquakes took advantage of him last night. He was walked around by Espinoza a few times, leading to dangerous opportunities. He provided one tackle, two clearances, and a blocked shot defensively. His passing rate was poor (68%), but he did create two chances — one that Carlos Ascues wasted with a wide shot when he perhaps had better options — but he also had an impatient early cross as one of Orlando’s best counter-attacks was developing that fizzled out the chance.
D, Robin Jansson, 5.5 — The beefy Swede let his countryman, Magnus Eriksson, walk right past him for the opening goal. In fairness, Eriksson made a nice feint that got Jansson to hesitate only for a split second, but it was enough to put the Designated Player in on goal. Espinoza likewise got the better of Jansson on the chance described above in the Rowe section. Aside from those two individual moments, Jansson was generally his usual self, finishing with two tackles, an interception, three clearances, and a blocked shot. His passing rate was a bit lower than usual (83%) but he hit three of his four long balls and he tried to pitch in offensively, tying Dom Dwyer for the most shot attempts on the team (2), although neither was on frame.
D, Lamine Sané, 6 — Like Jansson, Sané made a few individual mistakes in an otherwise decent game. Of course, when you play center back, a couple of mistakes can be killers or at least stick out in the memory more than the errors further up the pitch. Sané was culpable on both of Wondolowski’s goals — only partially on the first but much more blatantly on the second. On the first, he stepped up but Wondo beat the trap because not everyone on the back line was in sync. On the second, he was left marking air and watching the ball while the league’s all-time leading goal scorer stood unmarked a few yards away for an easy finish. With no one else in the area, Sané must make sure that pass doesn’t get to Wondo. But despite that, it wasn’t all bad. Sané actually finished as the team’s co-leader in chances created (2) and led the back line with a 91% passing accuracy. He finished with three interceptions, a team-high five clearances, and a blocked shot. He was by far the most active defender in the game for Orlando with 18 more touches than his nearest back line teammate.
D, Kyle Smith, 5.5 — While Smith has become a reliable defender in Ruan’s absence, he has a long way to go on the offensive end. You’d take his 82% rate if he at least provided a key pass or two, but he didn’t produce any, nor did he register an accurate cross on the meager two attempts. But, as usual, he was active in his own end, recording four tackles — tied for the team high — two interceptions, and three clearances. With three defensive midfielders playing in the 4-3-3, more is needed in the attacking end from the fullbacks.
MF, Will Johnson, 6.5 (Man of the Match)— When you don’t notice a defensive midfielder, it generally means he did his job. Johnson’s night wasn’t perfect. He had an awful turnover that produced a San Jose scoring chance, although Rowe bailed him out on it. His 92% passing accuracy led all starters and he created one scoring chance and attempted one shot, which was blocked. His four tackles co-led the team, and he added an interception and a clearance. I selected him as MotM but it was honestly just about a coin flip between Johnson and Uri Rosell — mostly as the two players who did the least amount wrong while being involved in the game.
MF, Uri Rosell, 6.5 — Rosell put in the work in his own end, recording one tackle, three interceptions — tying Sané for the team lead — one clearance, and one blocked shot. He registered the team’s only shot on target, although he didn’t get all of his 13th-minute effort that he sent toward the back post from outside the area. His passing rate of 83% needed to be better but he did hit four of his seven long balls and a few of those sprung the Lions for what should have been more threatening attacks. Two of those were notable in the 19th and 29th minutes. He earned his 90th-minute yellow card.
MF, Carlos Ascues, 4 — Although the Peruvian has played well in recent games, I thought Ascues looked a bit slow and lethargic last night. He touched the ball only 15 times in the first half before being subbed out at the break. His passing rate of 88% wasn’t bad but came on just eight attempts. His best contribution was a shot wide of the near post but he perhaps had more time and space than he realized and could have picked out a better option in the box. Ascues registered a clearance and a blocked shot defensively but he was more of a passenger on the night. James O’Connor wasn’t happy and his halftime interview indicated there were people not giving the effort he wanted in the first 45 minutes. Subbing Ascues out gives an indication of one of the players he felt weren’t giving enough.
F, Nani, 5 — The captain had a frustrating night that ended in an injury of unknown severity at 71 minutes. The Earthquakes seemingly always had two men ready to mark him when Orlando was on the ball and that contributed to a sloppier than usual night with just a 63% passing rate and he lost the ball seven times. He created one scoring chance, got nine crosses into the area (two accurate), but attempted no shots. Defensively, he added a clearance and a blocked shot. While I think much of his lack of quality on the night was related to how he was being marked without Mauricio Pereyra on the pitch, the Lions still needed more from their captain and Designated Player.
F, Dom Dwyer, 4.5 — Starved of service throughout the match, there was little Dwyer could do to affect the match. He had two shot attempts, neither on target, but at least he did the job of trying to score on the few opportunities he had. He was shown the softest of all yellow cards in the 65th minute. While Dwyer can be an agitator and initiate contact, this card came from the most innocuous of bumps with the goalkeeper as he was coming down from a jump for a cross that Daniel Vega cut off. The incidental contact was perhaps a foul — and Vega sold the hell out of it — but hardly worthy of the usual Dwyer booking. His hold-up play wasn’t great but there generally were few options for him anyway and he passed at a 73% rate. He won two aerials, blocked a shot on the defensive end, and finished the night with just 35 touches.
F, Benji Michel, 4 — Like Ascues, Michel came off at halftime, indicating a position that O’Connor wanted more out of. The rookie managed just 16 touches and passed at only a 50% rate (on just eight attempts, like Ascues), although he tied Dwyer for the team lead in aerials won (2). Michel failed to record any defensive statistics, which is unusual for a player who usually displays more desire and energy when pressing and getting into passing lanes. He produced no crosses, shots, or scoring chances and — again, like Ascues — was more of a passenger during his 45 minutes than a driver.
MF, Cristian Higuita (46’), 5.5 — The Colombian finally returned to make his 100th MLS appearance after about a three-month absence and generally played well. He led all Lions with a 97% passing rate and connected on both of his long-ball attempts. Surprisingly, Higuita registered no defensive statistics. He committed two fouls, though his booking was nearly as soft as Dwyer’s and happened right after Jackson Yueill should have gone in the books for cleaning out Akindele with his studs showing. Higuita attempted one shot, which Orlando players felt should have drawn a handball. I can’t say whether it was a good no-call or not because the broadcast literally never showed a replay. It was a decent 45-minute return for Higuita, who will be relied upon more heavily in the upcoming LAFC match.
F, Tesho Akindele (46’), 6 — The Canadian added some quality and hold-up play, finishing with a dribble and two chances created, but did disappear from the game at times. An 84% passing rate wasn’t bad considering his position and where those passes took place (all but two of the 19 were in the attacking half and all but seven were in the final third). He had one tackle and one clearance defensively and was generally decent in his 45 minutes, although an extremely heavy touch wrecked one of Orlando’s more promising buildups of play of the last half hour.
F Chris Mueller, (71’), 5 — Like other players, Mueller struggled with the Avaya Stadium pitch, but he had more trouble than many of his teammates. A couple of slips ruined potential attacks and it was a problem for Orlando players all night that never seemed to get resolved. Mueller failed to get his one shot attempt on target from a decent area in the box and just generally struggled to produce anything in the attack over the final 20 minutes despite getting on the ball 17 times. He had one dribble but created no chances. His 88% passing sounds pretty good until you look at a snapshot of his attempts.
That’s how I viewed the individual performances but, since we all see the game differently, how did you see it? I wouldn’t say that anyone stood out as amazing on the night and I had difficulty picking a Man of the Match on a night when the entire team fizzled. Defenders had lapses, midfielders turned over the ball, and forwards were isolated. It was a complete team loss. But hey, vote for your MotM below.
Who was your Orlando City Man of the Match in the Lions’ 3-0 loss at San Jose?
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Other (please tell us who in the comments section below)