Orlando City managed to keep its unbeaten streak alive with a contentious 1-1 draw with the Philadelphia Union. With the Lions having a better goal difference than the Union, they captured the top spot of Group A. After IIsinho scored the opening goal in the 68th minute from an Alejandro Bedoya assist, Mauricio Pereyra bagged the equalizer, heading in Nani’s cross just two minutes later. The 70th-minute Orlando City goal was the final score of the match.
As stats go, the match was a really tight and even one. The Philadelphia Union managed 12 shots while Orlando City registered 10. However, if one side deserved anything more on the night it was certainly the Lions. Andre Blake had a terrific match, making six saves to ensure that only one of the seven shots on target from the Floridian side trickled into the back of the net.
The game was an enthralling one, here’s how each of the players performed.
GK, Pedro Gallese, 7 — While all of the praise will surely be bestowed onto the counterpart of Gallese, the Orlando City shot stopper can hold his head up with pride after an overall solid performance. Having made three saves, the Peruvian made his most notable one against a Jamiro Monteiro shot after a poor giveaway from Nani. Gallese held it down in between the sticks and continues to look an absolute coup for the lions. Long may it continue.
D, Joao Moutinho, 6 — The Portuguese left back had an overall decent game. While Moutinho started the match as one of the most dangerous attacking outlets, he started to fade as the minutes ticked away. Like his fellow fullback, Ruan, he found himself in a promising position on a number of occasions, but just could not quite find the killer ball. The goal from the Union came down the side in which Moutinho was deployed in, and he got sucked inside when the ball was on Orlando’s right side. He couldn’t recover in time to defend Ilsinho’s rocket.
D, Antonio Carlos, 6.5 — Antonio Carlos had a very hot and cold match against the Union. He nearly opened his account just before Ilsinho’s goal, smashing a header off of a Nani corner, which Blake saved onto the crossbar. Aside from his shot on goal, he registered five clearances, two interceptions and a blocked shot, won a team-high five aerials, and was a 90% passer on the night in his best outing so far in the tournament.
D, Robin Jansson, 5 — Despite an injury that looked like it could have been a serious one to the Swedish central defender’s neck, Jansson rolled it out and played through to the finish. Like Carlos, the defender had a solid and assured 90 minutes despite the Union looking threatening on a few occasions. The Swede won an impressive four out of five aerial duels to nullify the threat of Sergio Santos and Kacper Przybylko, and led the Lions with eight clearances, adding an interception and a blocked shot.
D, Ruan, 4 — Though Ruan got into promising positions on a number of occasions, the final ball of the Brazilian was far from its best on the night. Ruan did really well on an abundance of instances, using his pace to burst down the right, but unfortunately the last pass, which is the most important one, was absent from the locker of the pacey right back. One sequence seemed to be particularly frustrating for him in the 90th minute of the match. Ruan failed to release the ball next to the byline, holding onto it too long, he then kicked out at the defender in frustrating fashion, earning himself a yellow card. At 74%, his passing rate was the lowest on the Orlando back line, though he did lead the club in touches (90).
MF, Uri Rosell, 5.5 — The Spanish midfielder once again had an overall decent performance that did not pull up any trees, but got the job done. After that of Mendez and Pereyra, he completed the most passes on the night, helping Orlando City to maintain possession when mounting attacks. His most notable moment was when he committed an intelligent, transitional foul, preventing a counter attack from the Union. He rightfully saw yellow for his challenge. He tallied two tackles, three interceptions and an 88% passing rate.
MF, Junior Urso, N/A — Sadly, Urso was subbed off in the 19th minute after an injury that saw him actually leave the pitch a few minutes before that. Prior to Mendez coming on for him, he looked solid and dangerous in the opening stages, with perhaps the best play he’s shown so far with Orlando. The former Corinthians midfielder made two of his trademark, dangerous, late runs into the box that caused the Union trouble. He fired two shots, getting one on target and completed all five of his passes before sustaining a knock.
MF, Chris Mueller, 6.5 — On the night, the 23-year-old should have had an assist. Mueller excellently slotted in a terrific through ball to Mendez that the latter failed to score on. Apart from that, while some of the end product from the American was not at its best, he showed his typical industry and troubled Philadelphia with his tremendous work rate. The tenacity Mueller brings to the table is unparalleled in the side and though he may want to put on a cash value on heart, it’s priceless.
MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 8.5 (MotM) — Pereyra was the best player on the pitch before he even scored his goal. The 30-year-old dictated play throughout the game and looked a menace the whole time. The goal, in which the 5-foot-6 Uruguayan scored was not one that one would expect from the creative midfielder, but despite that, he took it incredibly well. After Nani crossed brilliantly, Pereyra got his noggin on it and poked it past the ever-impressive, Blake. The goal that Pereyra scored was massive on the night and even more so in the grand scheme of things. The header ensured that Orlando City finished top of group A. He led the Lions with three key passes.
MF, Nani, 4.5 — The superstar winger did not have his typical amazing night against the Union. While the Portuguese star did come up big with the assist, his overall performance was below par given his lofty standards. The shooting (two of three on target but both weak and right at Blake) and passing (65%) from Nani was below average and in truth, if he was a bit sharper, more may have been achieved in the game. There were a umber of instances were he fluffed his lines, such as when Tesho set him up in the 48th minute and he skied his hot. Let’s hope he is better in the next game. I’m sure he will be.
F, Tesho Akindele, 5.5 — Tesho put in a typical, old-fashioned number nine performance. The big Canadian up front had good holdup play as one could expect and helped his fellow attackers get space to showcase their brilliance. The moment where he put Nani in a dangerous area in the 48th minute epitomized what Tesho is all about. He perhaps could have played back to Pereyra in the 28th minute in front of goal but his shot was powerful and on target, but Blake was able to stop it. He was clearly tiring and Oscar Pareja made the right choice in subbing him off after an industrious shift.
MF, Sebas Mendez (19’), 6 — The Ecuadorian played the majority of the match after Urso came off injured and did pretty well in doing so. Though he should have scored in the 50th minute after Mueller set him up, it was not a terrible effort. And aside from that, Mendez had an overall solid display. He showed grit and determination in the midfield, taking more attacking risks than his partner, Rosell, who prefers a more pragmatic way of passing.
F, Benji Michel (74’), 5 — Benji played well and did not have much time to do much. However, the energy he provided in place of the exhausted Tesho was much needed. He completed both his passes and made good runs.
MF, Andres Perea (87’), N/A — Perea came on for Mueller but didn’t have time to make much of an impact in the match.
MF, Santiago Patino (87’), N/A — Santi came on at the same time as Perea and didn’t even register an official touch on the ball.
All in all, a draw is all that was needed and that is what Orlando City managed. Topping the group and doing so undefeated is no easy feat so we can hold our manes up with pride going into the round of 16.
Until then, let’s enjoy the rest of the group stages fixtures and put our feet up and relax. That’ll do for now pig, be sure to vote for who you thought was man of the match.
Who was your Orlando City Man of the Match from the Lions’ 1-1 draw vs. the Union?
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