Left back João Moutinho briefly returned from injury and made his first appearance since the U.S. Open Cup semifinal defeat back on Aug. 6. Elsewhere, Tesho Akindele returned to the starting lineup, replacing an injured Cristian Higuita with Mauricio Pereyra moving further back to cover for the Colombian midfielder. Here’s how everyone performed in a rough match for the Lions.
GK, Brian Rowe, 6.5 — Following last season’s debacle, Rowe has been a reliable stopgap at the goalkeeper position and yesterday was no exception. He was forced into his first of six saves in the 25th minute and 10 minutes later he reacted fast to push a laser from Roland Lamah away. But there was little Rowe could do on the goal as Allan Cruz was unmarked in the box and had plenty of time to pick his spot. He also once again showed how accomplished he is when collecting crosses, even when challenged, by out-leaping Cincinnati attackers.
D, João Moutinho, N/A — With Orlando rapidly running out of games to sneak into the playoffs O’Connor decided to roll the dice and rush his first choice left back into action. It was a risk worth taking despite looking foolish in hindsight, as Moutinho lasted just 13 minutes on the artificial turf before being forced off. He did complete 100% of his eight passes but it’s hard to put much stock into that. It wasn’t enough time to earn a grade, unfortunately.
D, Robin Jansson, 5.5 — Things were quiet for Jansson in the first half and it seemed like he took that opportunity to nap. The Swede had an incredibly static first 45 minutes and was one of the players least reactive to the midfield turnover that led to Cincinnati’s goal. Whatever was said at halftime seemed to wake him up as he did well in an ongoing battle with Emmanuel Ledesma, Cincinnati’s best player. However, Jansson was only credited with three defensive actions, including one tackle, indicative of how the game largely passed him by.
D, Lamine Sané, 6.5 — Unlike his central defensive partner, Sané looked pretty alert in the first half and was good at reading danger. He had the awareness and ability to keep pace with Joe Gyau on a quick throw-in, forcing the winger into taking his shot from a wide angle. His combined seven defensive actions were a team high, while he also made the fifth-most passes with 46.
D, Ruan, 4.5 — Ruan showed his inconsistency from game to game. Unfortunately, the Brazilian struggled in his advanced role high on the right wing. His passing was careless at best, connecting on a shockingly low 51.7%, while neither of his two cross attempts were successful. Considering the amount of traffic coming down his flank, only making two tackles seemed pretty poor given the volume of work.
MF, Will Johnson, 6.5 — Will Johnson covered every blade of grass in a marathon performance. He ripped off a trademark speculative first-time shot wide from distance in the 30th minute, one of three shots the Canadian took with none finding the target. He was surprisingly one of the more creative players with two key passes. With three tackles, one block, the second-most passes, and second-best pass completion, overall Johnson was probably one of the top three Lions in the game.
MF, Sebas Méndez, 5 — Sebas was a bit too reckless his enforcer role as he ended up getting booked by the end of the first half for persistent fouling. Sitting on that yellow and with a trailing Orlando struggling to create any clear chances, O’Connor made the decision to remove a largely ineffective Méndez in favor of the more attack-minded Chris Mueller. A solid 89.8% passing accuracy, best on the team, must be caveated with the largely pointless nature of those passes while he also ranked top for fouls conceded, with three.
MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 5.5 — Pereyra struggled in his deeper midfield role, losing the ball a team high five times, and is better suited to an attacking creative role than a box-to-box ball winner. A rather anonymous first half did give way to a quick start in the second half as the Uruguayan finally found a pocket of space and was able to cross a ball and pick out the head of Dom Dwyer. A team-high four dribbles shows the willingness and ability to go direct that Pereyra will offer to this team going forward in a more advanced role.
F, Nani, 6.5 (MotM) — Once again, it looked like if Orlando City was going to do anything it would come through Nani. It may have taken until the 91st minute, but the Portuguese international won a one-on-one and floated a cross that led to the late equalizer. Nani notched up an incredible 101 touches, significantly ahead of Pereyra, who was second with 74. He made three key passes, two dribbles, and attempted three shots. He also made the most passes with 79, although his completion percentage was down at 70.9% and only one of his seven cross attempts was successful.
F, Dom Dwyer, 6 — Stop the presses, I genuinely think Dom Dwyer played somewhat well. He had the thankless task of playing as a makeshift target man as Orlando struggled in its buildup play and unconvincingly forced the ball long — something that simply does not suit his skill set. The team played more into his hands in the second half as the striker headed a ball towards goal, forcing Przemysław Tytoń to palm the it over his crossbar. Dwyer tested the Polish keeper once again, spinning to shake off the defender after receiving a good ball from Nani but the near post shot on the turn lacked the necessary venom. Aside from Benji Michel’s goal, he was the only player to manage a shot on target.
F, Tesho Akindele, 5 — Akindele started the afternoon on the left side of a front three but frequently drifted centrally to try and break behind Cincinnati’s defense. It nearly worked as he reacted quickly to intercept a volleyed back pass but could only dangle a leg and stab the ball wide. He should have had an opportunity to head the equalizer from a short corner in the 55th minute, just before he was substituted off, but Nani lofted the ball in behind the Canadian and the chance was gone. He finished the day with only one shot, was dispossessed twice, and his pass completion rate of 57.9% was better than only Ruan.
D, Kyle Smith (14’), 6 — Smith entered the game earlier than he would have anticipated but it didn’t look like he took too long to get into the rhythm of the game. I was actually quite impressed as he ultimately led the team in tackles with five and totaled a team-leading seven defensive contributions — tied with Sané. He compiled one key pass, 37 passes, and an 86.5% completion rate, including one cross. We tend to think of Ruan as the more reliable attacking threat but Smith had much better day than his Brazilian counterpart yesterday.
F, Benji Michel (58’), 6 — Michel had one of those stat lines you’d expect from a second half substitute attacker. He didn’t get much of a look, but made sure to make the most of it when he did. With 11 total touches, he converted his only shot of the game as he found himself in the right spot at the right time to capitalize on the second ball from Dwyer’s contested header off Nani’s cross.
F, Chris Mueller (67’), 5.5 — Mueller entered the game with 23 minutes left to try to help his team overturn a one-goal deficit and it didn’t take long for him to take the opportunity. With the ball dropping to him at the top of the box, Mueller could only find the midriff of Greg Garza. He was probably the weakest of the three substitutes but he definitely seems to energize the team and give them a second wind on the offensive side of the ball.
So there you have it, the return of the Cardiac Cats in an otherwise damp squib of a game that officially saw Orlando City eliminated from playoff contention. Man of the Match was a pretty tough pick as it could have gone to a handful of guys who put in a respectable performance while others around them looked tired, disinterested, or short of ideas. in the end it’s hard to argue Nani wasn’t the difference maker. Do you agree or do you have your own choice? Vote in the poll below and let us know in the comments.
Who is your pick for Orlando City Man of the Match as the Lions earned a late draw in Cincinnati?
This poll is closed
Other (leave a comment)