Orlando City returned to its winning ways last night with a 4-1 victory against Atlanta United. It was the Lions’ first win at home over their rivals and there was some added sweetness as the result all but eliminated Atlanta from playoff contention.
Rookie Daryl Dike was a force in the match, with both a goal and an assist, and Chris Mueller scored a beauty off a free kick for his ninth of the regular season. Here’s how all of the Lions rated in the big win, as well as who was crowned Man of the Match.
GK, Pedro Gallese, 6 — The Peruvian looked right at home for most of the match in his first game in Exploria Stadium since Oct. 3. Gallese came up with a full-stretch save in the third minute of the match as Atlanta put the pressure on early. Before the end of the first half, he showed discomfort after landing awkwardly, but didn’t seem to have any issues carrying on. He got a touch on Erick Torres’ point-blank headed shot at goal in the 87th, but it wasn’t nearly enough to save it. Gallese didn’t get the clean sheet, but did finish with two saves as he gets back in the swing of things.
D, Kamal Miller, 5 — Filling in for the injured João Moutinho, Miller struggled in this one. There was a scary moment when Jürgen Damm sent him running the wrong way and got a free shot on goal that went just wide. Defending against Damm in space is a tall order, but Miller was partly responsible on Torres’ goal in the waning moments of the match. The Canadian did finish with a team-leading 64 touches and was second in passes with a total of 49. Still, he’s had much better nights.
D, Robin Jansson, 6 — After his unfortunate own goal in the loss against Inter Miami, Jansson hardly had a mistake in this one. The Swede proved why he has started nine straight games for the Lions, serving as an anchor on defense against Atlanta. Had he been able to jump a bit higher when defending against Torres’ goal then Orlando would’ve walked away with a clean sheet. The offense stole the show and the late goal ruined the shutout, but it was yet another solid performance from Jansson that included three clearances.
D, Antonio Carlos, 6.5 — Carlos came up big time and time again for the Lions, with a whopping nine clearances. His partnership with Jansson continues to grow as the pair played all 90 minutes together. Carlos was decisive both in the air and on the ground, rising up to meet Atlanta’s many corner kicks as well as making an expert sliding tackle in the box to deny Atlanta and defend Exploria Stadium.
D, Ruan, 7 — The right back did what he does best, forcing opponents to deal with his speed and creating opportunities on offense. His best moment came on Orlando’s first goal as he delivered a perfect ball to Dike in the box for his fourth assist of the season. Ruan continues to excel in Oscar Pareja’s system and ended the game with two tackles, 51 touches, and 35 passes.
MF, Joey DeZart, 5.5 — The rookie looked lost at times with his marking and there were a few moments where he didn’t seem all too aware of the players around him. That being said, DeZart still held his own in the midfield with the usual starters absent. The midfielder didn’t have a single shot, but finished with 34 passes at a strong 91% completion rate.
MF, Junior Urso, 6.5 — Although Urso didn’t finish with a goal or an assist after playing all 90 minutes, he did fairly well on both sides of the ball. He nearly scored on a volley to double Orlando’s lead in the first half, but his attempt went just wide. Urso led the team with four shots, 50 passes, and had the second-most touches with 63 to keep Atlanta from capitalizing on possession in the midfield.
MF, Chris Mueller, 7.5 — After spending the first half constantly fouled by Laurence Wyke, Mueller made him pay for it right before halftime. Covered in grass from the foul, Mueller waved Nani off the ball for the free kick and curled it into the net for one of his best goals as a Lion. As far as the rest of his night, Mueller did have some rough crosses here and there, but finished with three key passes and 55 touches as he continues his best year yet in Orlando.
MF, Nani, 6.5 — The captain had a bit of a quiet night, pulling the strings of Orlando’s offense when he could. It was his pass to Ruan that got things going for Orlando’s first goal and he found Tesho Akindele open in the box soon after to make sure the Lions kept riding that momentum. Nani was subbed out in the second half for some rest as Orlando’s other offensive players stepped up.
F, Daryl Dike, 8 (MotM)— The rookie got his sixth consecutive start and sixth goal of the season, turning and scoring in front of goal to give Orlando the lead in the 29th minute. Dike’s confidence after scoring showed as he continued to muscle past defenders and give Atlanta nightmares. He was frankly unstoppable when running at goal and that helped him find Tesho Akindele in front of goal to log his fourth assist of the season.
F, Tesho Akindele, 7.5 — In his first start in over a month, Akindele worked alongside Dike up top and the pair wreaked havoc on offense. The Canadian scored right in front of goal after playing a bit of give-and-go with Dike in the second half and he freed up needed space on Dike’s goal. Akindele was subbed off after his goal and finished with two shots, two key passes, and his third goal this season. It was a great performance and showcased a new look to Orlando’s offense with Mauricio Pereyra out.
F, Andres Perea (62’), 6 — He came onto the field after Akindele’s goal with the Lions up 3-0 and was hungry for more, linking up with Benji Michel and Urso to keep Atlanta on their toes. Perea nearly opened his account for the Lions in the 71st minute with only Guzan to beat, but his shot was a bit awkward and went wide. Still, he’s growing confidence and looked a bit more at ease playing with a lead.
F, Benji Michel (62’), 6 — Like Perea, Michel came on the field swinging, with two shots within two minutes of coming onto the field. Guzan had to save the first, despite Michel taking it from a tough angle, and the second was a header that went wide. Michel set Perea free in the box although the midfielder couldn’t finish. He picked up a yellow card in the 88th minute and got quite a bit done with only 11 touches in the game.
MF, Sebas Mendez (68’), 7 — The Ecuadorian may have only played for a little over 20 minutes, but he was efficient during that time. Mendez may not officially be credited for the goal at the end of the match, but his free kick wound up in the back of the net to put the cherry on top of Orlando’s big win. Mendez also finished with 23 passes at a 100% completion rate, which is pretty impressive to say the least.
F, Matheus Aias (79’), N/A — Aias only had seven touches in his second game for Orlando, but he made them count. Mendez’ free kick deflected off of him and it was just enough to stop Guzan from keeping it out for his first official goal as a Lion. It was also nice to see him sprinting towards goal on that play to ensure his team scored, even though the win was in hand.
F, Alexander Alvarado (79’), N/A — The winger made his debut for Orlando City at the end of the match, coming on for Mueller. He put fresh legs to good use and drew fouls, including the one that led to Orlando’s final goal off the ensuing free kick.
That’s how I saw how things play out. What about you? Let us know in the comments how you thought the Lions did and vote for who you think deserves the title of Man of the Match.
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