It was a match that Orlando City wasn’t supposed to win, and it didn’t. However, the club did advance past LAFC on penalty kicks 1-1 (5-4) into the semifinals of the MLS is Back Tournament. LAFC is a powerhouse club in MLS, and after defeating the Seattle Sounders in the Round of 16, most expected last year’s Supporters Shield winners to keep rolling on. Óscar Pareja and Orlando City didn’t get that message.
The Lions held LAFC to eight shots (none in the first half), five shots on target, and only one goal. Orlando City pressed LAFC, and never backed down. The Lions were able to break LAFC’s lines time and again to keep LAFC from getting into its usual rhythm. Even though it seemed to be for naught when LAFC went up a goal, the Cardiac Cats reeled them back in and ultimately advanced on kicks.
Let’s look at how Orlando City’s players did individually in what might be the club’s biggest “win” in the MLS era.
GK, Pedro Gallese, 7.5 — El Pulpo made four saves. His positioning was good, even on LAFC’s goal where he didn’t really have a chance. Bradley Wright-Phillips slipped in between defenders as he has done so many times in the past. His distribution was good, and he directed his back line effectively. While he wasn’t challenged as much as one might have expected, he did just enough to help Orlando City, making three big stops on Diego Rossi and a late one to deny Jordan Harvey. If not for El Pulpo, the Lions wouldn’t have had a chance to hang around and tie things up late.
D, João Moutinho, 7.5 (MotM) — The young defender made the most out of his appearance against his former club. Moutinho was integral on both ends of the pitch. While he did commit two fouls, neither resulted in a goal for the opposition. He had three tackles, two clearances, and two blocked shots on defense. João attempted 43 passes and had a 75.6% passing rate. Most importantly, he scored the header to draw Orlando City even in the 90th minute off Nani’s corner kick. He also put in his shot during the penalty kicks to help the Lions advance past his former club.
D, Antonio Carlos, 7 — Carlos put in a solid effort, though he was one of the players that wasn’t able to stop Bradley Wright-Phillips. He made six interceptions, two clearances, and committed one foul. Carlos attempted 42 passes and had a 71.4% passing rate. He put in a dangerous header off of a corner in the 27th minute, but it was pushed over the crossbar. It was another solid outing from the young center back, as he continues to prove he deserves to start. He also made his shot during the penalty shootout.
D, Robin Jansson, 6.5 — Jansson is leading the defense of Orlando City as well as anyone in recent memory. He had four interceptions, four clearances, and committed no fouls. Jansson attempted 20 passes at a 70% passing rate. He seemed to get caught in no man’s land on the LAFC goal, but Wright-Phillips was behind him and he was playing what was in front of him. In the 78th minute, he went up for a header and was injured on the way down. Jansson seemed to get a knock to his stomach, and also a cramp in his leg. He came off in the 80th minute. It’s important to keep in mind that Jansson and the defense held LAFC to eight shots, and five on target.
D, Ruan, 7 — Ruan created his usual havoc for the opposition as he ranged up and down the right side. On defense he had three tackles, two clearances, and two fouls. Ruan attempted 43 passes and had a 73.2% passing rate. He did earn a yellow card in the ninth minute, but it didn’t affect his play. He also suffered three fouls including the penalty in the 55th minute to give Orlando an opportunity to go ahead.
MF, Sebas Mendez, 5.5 — Mendez started in place of Junior Urso, and despite a few slip-ups it was a pretty good game for the midfielder. He had made three tackles, two interceptions, and committed three fouls. He attempted 43 passes and had a 93% passing rate. Mendez had one shot blocked in the 29th minute, as he waited too long to get it off and was closed down. He committed a foul in the 40th minute to set up an LAFC free kick, and, most importantly, he gave the ball away in the 60th minute in Orlando’s half. That giveaway resulted in LAFC’s goal.
MF, Oriol Rosell, 6 — Uri put in his usual solid shift. On defense he had one tackle, and committed two fouls. Offensively he had one shot in the 53rd from top of the box, but the ball sailed over the crossbar. Rosell came off in the 71st minute after another workmanlike effort.
MF, Chris Mueller, 5.5 — Cash never had much of a chance to really get going, as he was fouled early on, and obviously injured his shoulder. Despite that, he stayed on to finish the half, before subbing out. He suffered a total of three fouls, and made one interception. He also won a corner kick. Mueller attempted 12 passes with a 66.7% passing rate.
MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 6 — Pereyra was once again a key player in the Lions’ offense. He took most of the corners, attempted one shot, with two tackles, and committed two fouls. He attempted 46 passes with a 78.3% passing rate. In the 48th minute he earned a yellow card for an unintentional studs up challenge. He also committed an unintentional handball in LAFC’s area that stopped an Orlando City build up. Pereyra buried his attempt during the penalty kicks as Orlando’s first shooter, setting the tone.
MF, Nani, 6.5 — The captain put in a good shift, taking seven shots, with three on target, and suffered one offside call. He made one interception, once clearance, and committed two fouls. Nani attempted 45 passes with a 71.1% passing rate, and seven crosses. His shot in the 38th minute was on target but easily saved. His second biggest moment of the match was missing the penalty kick in the 57th minute. He almost forced an own goal from his cross in the 64th, and just missed to the right on a shot outside the 18 in the 73rd. As usual, he left the best for last, assisting on the equalizer and putting in the deciding penalty kick to put Orlando City through to the next round.
F, Tesho Akindele, 5 — Tesho had a quiet night for Orlando City. He suffered one foul, made one tackle, and made one interception. He attempted 12 passes with a 66.7% passing rate, and was caught offside once.
F, Benji Michel (46’), 5 — Benji came in earlier than expected due to Mueller’s injury. Defensively he made one tackle, had four interceptions, one clearance, and committed one foul. Michel attempted 12 passes with a 66.7% passing rate. He also took one shot, which sailed high and wide in stoppage time.
F, Daryl Dike (71’), 4 — Dike made his second appearance for the Lions, coming on for Tesho. You can see the potential, but he needs more time to put it together. He missed a header in the 87th minute, and completed two passes.
MF, Andrés Perea (71’), 5 — Perea came on for Rosell, and did well to help Orlando City press for the equalizer. He made one tackle, and attempted 11 passes with a 90.9% passing rate. He also earned a yellow card in the 86th minute.
D, Kyle Smith (80’), 6 — Typically coming in so late in a match wouldn’t be enough time to earn a grade, but Smith made two key plays. In the 82nd minute he made a save with his head to keep the ball out of the net after Gallese’s double save. He also made his shot attempt during the penalty kicks.
F, Santiago Patiño (89’), N/A — Patiño completed two passes in very limited time.
I wasn’t kidding when I said this might be the biggest moment for Orlando City in the MLS era. I know we had the Running of the Wall, but all eyes were on this match because it was against LAFC. Very few had Orlando City advancing, including myself on The ManeLand PawedCast. I’ve never been happier to be wrong about a prediction, and I’ve had plenty of opportunities to be wrong.
While many thought the Lions would be home by now, Orlando City fans have the luxury of enjoying the remaining quarterfinal games and waiting to see who their team will play — San Jose or Minnesota.
This is how I saw the game. How do you feel about the individual performances? Tell us by commenting and voting on the Man of the Match below.
Who was your Orlando City Man of the Match in the Lions’ 3-1 win over Minnesota United?
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