Orlando City’s historic 2020 season came to an end as the Lions fell 3-1 to the New England Revolution in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Despite the loss, it was the team’s best season since joining MLS in 2015.
Let’s look at how the individual Lions did in the final game of 2020.
GK, Brian Rowe, 5.5 — Rowe was forced into the starting role when Pedro Gallese was sent off during penalties last week, resulting in a one-game suspension. The former starter did well for much of this game, making some crucial saves when it was still 2-1. While the penalty wasn’t Rowe’s fault, he could’ve done better on the Revs’ second goal. When the Lions pushed forward late, Rowe was up to the task, making a couple of key diving saves, pushing the ball to safety. In the end, he gave up three goals and made three saves.
D, Kamal Miller, 6 — Ruan’s red card against New York City FC threw Miller into the starting lineup for this crucial game. The second-year defender did well, holding primarily a defensive role throughout the game. When Orlando City sent defenders into the box for set pieces, Miller was the lone player back and kept the ball in the attacking third on multiple occasions.
D, Robin Jansson, 6 — It was another solid performance for the Swede in the back. Jansson has been the leader of the back four the past two seasons and played that role well in this game. He made some strong tackles in the box and did well to clear the ball when needed. He had a chance to tie the match in the 19th minute off a corner kick play but he hit his shot into the side netting. He tracked back to break up a counter attack with some excellent last-ditch defending in the 59th minute after New England cleared a set piece and looked to break. While it wasn’t his most outstanding performance, he showed the quality that fans have been used to seeing the past two seasons.
D, Antonio Carlos, 5 — This wasn’t Antonio Carlos’ best performance of the year. In the 26th minute, he let his man get inside of him to reach the ball just in front of goal. The shot ricocheted off the post before falling to Gustavo Bou for the Revs’ second goal. While not as egregious, Carlos got caught out of position again in the 86th minute, allowing Carles Gil to play Bou through for the game-clinching goal, but the back line was stretched at the time, having gone to three at the back to chase the game.
D, Kyle Smith, 6 — Smith played a somewhat quiet but effective 78 minutes in this game. The starting left back moved to the right side in the absence of Ruan, allowing Miller to slide into a more natural position. He was more attacking than Miller and was effective at sending balls into the box. Defensively, he did well to cause turnovers and quickly start an attack.
MF, Uri Rosell, 5.5 — It was an up-and-down game for Rosell. He was very effective at distributing the ball, especially in the first half. The defensive midfielder sent some beautiful long balls forward for Nani on the left, allowing the Lions to build an attack. However, a poor decision in the 15th minute on Tajon Buchanan while backing up Miller resulted in the penalty that opened the scoring for the visitors.
MF, Junior Urso, 6.5 (MotM) — Junior Urso had a strong game for the Lions through the midfield. His passing was mostly crisp, though he did let a couple get away. His biggest contribution came in the 33rd minute when he received the ball after a scramble in front of goal and put it behind Matt Turner. The goal brought the Lions back into the game and provided a chance to equalize in the second half.
MF, Chris Mueller, 6 — Mueller showed his typical effort in this game, winning balls that got away from him and teammates. The attacking midfielder was strong going forward and played the ball much earlier than he often does, creating attacking chances. In the 33rd minute, it was his fight in front of goal that allowed the ball to reach Junior Urso for Orlando City’s only goal of the day.
MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 4.5 — Pereyra wasn’t as effective as Oscar Pareja would’ve liked and got sent off with 30 minutes remaining. The midfielder was supposed to be a link between the defense and attack but was unsuccessful, causing the Lions to move the ball through the air most of the game. In the 60th minute, Pereyra took down Matt Polster in a nasty challenge that resulted in a straight red. It was well deserved and left the Lions a man down, in addition to a goal down, for the final half hour.
F, Nani, 5 — In one of his most important games as a Lion, this wasn’t one of Nani’s best. At times, the Designated Player struggled to keep possession and was ineffective with his passing. The frustration was evident as he looked to take on defenders rather than making the easy pass. The Portuguese playmaker could’ve been a hero in the 74th minute when he stepped up for a penalty but it was poorly taken and Turner made the relatively easy save. He did well with some of his crosses, however, like the well-placed one to Mueller that helped set up Urso’s goal. He finished with two shots, tying Pereyra for the team lead.
F, Daryl Dike, 6 — Dike was one of the bright spots for Orlando City in this game. The target forward used his big frame well to shield defenders and helped to set up teammates. He showed tremendous effort throughout the game, winning balls that otherwise would have resulted in a counter attack. That effort was on display in the 73rd minute when he beat Matt Polster to the ball, drawing a penalty. He only got one shot in the game, but it was his strength and hustle that stood out.
MF, Andres Perea (66’), 5.5 — Perea came on with 24 minutes left for Rosell to provide fresh legs and maintain possession. The midfielder didn’t play poorly, and had a couple of nice long passes in the attack, but wasn’t able to help build through the midfield, something the team struggled with all afternoon.
MF, Benji Michel (78’), 5 — Michel came on with 12 minutes to go for Smith as the Lions looked to push forward. He didn’t record any shots, the primary reason why he was brought on. The Homegrown Player has come up clutch late for the Lions on a few occasions in the past but was unable to find that magic late in this game.
F, Tesho Akindele (78’), 5 — Replacing Mueller, Akindele didn’t make the impact for which he was brought on. He did get an off-target headed shot on a set piece, but that was it. His entrance was a desperate attempt to equalize late and the Revs put the game away just eight minutes after he came on.
M, Robinho (88’), N/A — Robinho came on for Urso for the final moments of this game, after the Revs had sealed the victory. With the result already decided, there wasn’t much the Brazilian could do other than see out the end of the season. He fired one shot off target in the closing minutes.
That’s how I saw the individual performances in Orlando CIty’s final game of 2020. Let us know what you thought in the comments below and make sure to vote on your Man of the Match.
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