Leave it to Orlando City to draw in the team’s first ever playoff match. At least the Lions were considerate enough to win the penalty shootout afterwards, regardless of who was in goal. Yesterday’s match was weird, fun, insane, and perhaps a little drunk, but in the end Orlando City advances in the postseason and that’s the only thing that matters.
Let’s get to the individual player grades from an interesting match against NYCFC.
GK, Pedro Gallese, 8 (MotM) — Can a goalkeeper who gets sent off during a penalty shootout be the Man of the Match? He can. It’s not that there aren’t any other good candidates but without El Pulpo this match wouldn’t have come close to extra time or a shootout. Gallese’s save on Jesus Medina in the 24th minute was incredible. He made another diving stop two minutes later. His double save in the 43rd minute against Valentin Castellanos and Keaton Parks was sheer brilliance and had Parks shaking his head. He denied Medina in the 64th and Ronald Mattarita in the 114th. It was an amazing game by Gallese, with six saves and he showed off some tekkers in the game as well.
D, Kyle Smith, 6 — Starting on the left side and switching to his preferred right side late in the match after Ruan was sent off, Smith had a decent match, but there was definitely more he could have done. The biggest problem for me was a 61.4% passing accuracy and his one accurate long ball on seven attempts. But he was mostly fine defensively, finishing with three tackles, two interceptions, and two clearances.
D, Robin Jansson, 7.5 — The beefy Swede led all Lions in clearances (6), adding four tackles and three interceptions. His 82.9% passing accuracy led all Orlando City starting defenders and he hit on three of his five long ball attempts. He even scored on his penalty attempt in the sudden death portion of the spot kick shootout. His work rate was outstanding, as in the 38th minute, when he blocked a pair of crosses in rapid succession, winning a goal kick to ease the pressure. He also hustled back to break up a potentially dangerous counter-attack after a set piece.
D, Antonio Carlos, 8 — If Gallese wasn’t my Man of the Match, it would be Carlos. The Brazilian was all over the pitch, making an unbelievable 10 interceptions to go along with five clearances, five blocked shots, two aerials won, and four tackles. He attempted one shot, which he sent wide off a set piece, not counting his successful penalty in the shootout. His 79% passing accuracy was decent, and he connected on four of his eight long balls.
D, Ruan, 5 — The speedy Brazilian passed at an 80% clip and had one key pass, providing an outlet down the right most of the game. But his decision-making was poor, his yellow card was foolish, and his sending off was just downright selfish. I understand why he was upset with Gary Mackay-Steven, but he has to be smart enough to avoid taking the bait. Defensively he made one tackle and one interception.
MF, Uri Rosell, 6.5 — The Spaniard returned after a 13-game absence and pretty much picked up where he left off, serving as the engine in the central midfield, linking the lines and cleaning up spills. He passed at an 87.1% rate, completed six of eight long balls, created one scoring chance, and attempted one shot. He also had two tackles and three interceptions. It was a typical, workmanlike game from Rosell.
MF, Junior Urso, 6.5 — The Bear was similar in his play to Rosell. His passing rate was 86.7% but he completed a whopping 90% (9/10) of his long balls. He made four tackles with three interceptions and fired two shots, although neither was on target. His weak spots were few, but one was a failure to contain Maxime Chanot on NYCFC’s goal, although he was the recipient of a push on the play, which knocked him off balance. He also was dispossessed three times and had two unstable touches.
MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 7.5 — The Uruguayan had a good game, creating five scoring chances and tallying a team high six dribbles. Defensively, he chipped in four tackles, an interception, and a blocked shot. He completed six of his eight long balls and passed at an 84.4% rate. My only real criticism of Pereyra was that he attempted no shots. New York City FC therefore did not have to respect his shot and watched for him to pass, cutting out some of his attempts in the final third, which foiled some good buildups and led to some transition opportunities. Pereyra wasn’t alone in that, though, as it seemed the Lions sometimes wanted to dribble and pass the ball to the back of the net.
MF, Chris Mueller, 6 — It was a mixed game for Mueller, who started well but seemed to struggle with his touch deeper in the match, as with the turnover in his own half that led to a scoring chance — and one of Gallese’s great saves — in the second half. He had one key pass, which set up the Nani header that led to the early penalty kick. His passing was decent (82.9%). Defensively he had a clearance and a tackle. He took only one shot that he missed on badly, was dispossessed four times, and had four unstable touches.
F, Nani, 7.5 — The captain had a strong game overall, leading the team in touches, with 91. He attempted a team high six shots, getting two on frame, and buried his fifth-minute penalty with composure, scoring the first MLS playoff goal in Orlando City history. He created two scoring chances and had four dribbles, to help propel the offense forward. He passed at an 86.3% rate and, like Pereyra, hit on six of his eight long balls. On defense, he chipped in three tackles, an interception, and a clearance. The only real quibbles are that he missed the opportunity to put the penalty kick shootout away as the fifth shooter, he looked to get foul calls a bit too often, and his crossing wasn’t as accurate as usual (just 1/5).
F, Daryl Dike, 6 — The rookie sometimes struggled to get on the ball, finishing with just 22 touches. He attempted two shots, getting one on target, and made one key pass. He was a 71.8% passer and made two nice dribbles in the match. However, he offered no defensive actions, committed two fouls in the offensive end, was dispossessed twice and had three unstable touches.
F, Tesho Akindele (83’), 5.5 — The Canadian came on for Dike and until the shootout his most significant contribution was missing a sitter in the 10th and final minute of stoppage time. He later redeemed himself by scoring in the penalty shootout. Akindele attempted two shots, but got neither on frame, passed at just 58.3%, and made one interception.
MF, Andres Perea (83’), 6.5 — The Colombian came on for Rosell and inserted himself into the match, passing at an 87% clip and hitting on four of his five long ball attempts. He was booked for taking a tactical foul to break up a transition, but it was his only foul. He finished with one clearance and created one scoring chance. He also scored on his penalty in the shootout.
D, Kamal Miller (90’+4), 6.5 — The Canadian defender had a long wait for a whistle to get into the game after Ruan was ejected, finally subbing on in stoppage time. However, he acquitted himself well at left back, finishing with a clearance, an interception, and two blocked shots. He made one dribble and took one shot, that went just wide after a nice run forward on the attack in extra time. Miller completed all seven of his pass attempts.
D/GK, Rodrigo Schlegel (101’), 7.5 — This is one player who must be graded on a curve. He touched the ball only 12 times after coming on for Smith. He played right back, which is a bit unusual, completing four of his five pass attempts. He completed his only long ball attempt. But the Argentinean will go down as an Orlando City legend after volunteering to replace Gallese when the Peruvian keeper was sent off. “Papi, I can do that,” Schlegel said to his coach and he did that. Schlegel faced three shooters in his first professional stint as a goalkeeper, allowing goals on spot kicks by Castellanos and Nicolas Acevedo before coming up huge against Gudmundur Thórarinsson. Schlegel got a touch to the shot and knocked it off the post and out to set up the winning penalty.
F, Benji Michel (106’), N/A — Speaking of the winning penalty, the Homegrown Player subbed on at halftime of extra time for Pereyra when the Uruguayan felt some tightness after playing 105 minutes. I’m not going to give Michel a grade after only a 15-minute run-out, but it was an important appearance. He got only 10 touches and completed three of his five passing attempts, made one interception and buried a cannon shot past Sean Johnson to end the game.
That’s the way I saw the performances on Saturday afternoon at Exploria Stadium. Don’t forget to vote for your Man of the Match in our poll below, and let me know where you strongly agree/disagree in the comments section below.
Who was your Orlando City Man of the Match in the Lions’ 6-5 penalty shootout win after a 1-1 draw with New York City FC?
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