Wednesday was a hell of a day, but we got through it, and part of that is because Orlando City went out and got a 3-1 win at home over Nashville SC. The Lions needed a few minutes to settle into the match but once they figured out what the visitors were all about they controlled the game for the most part.
Nashville SC had been sound defensively entering the game, conceding twice in each of its two Atlanta matches but otherwise allowing only one goal in the team’s other three matches. Last night, the visitors allowed a franchise-high three goals.
Let’s take a look at the individual performances.
GK, Pedro Gallese, 6 — El Pulpo got caught on the bounce on Nashville’s set piece goal. It was a tricky play but I think he could have been a little better on it. He collided with Abu Danladi early in the game and the play went to video review for a potential penalty but none was given. Aside from that, he passed well (94.1%, 2/3 accuracy on long balls). He made three saves on Nashville’s four shots on target, but none of the three were particularly troublesome.
D, Joao Moutinho, 8 — The Portuguese fullback had an outstanding night, creating the first goal with a nice cutback move right to shed Hany Mukhtar, then he cut back to his left to open a passing lane. Seeing Chris Mueller on the ground, Moutinho kept his cross low, allowing Cash an easier finish. The assist was brilliant, but he also got in behind the defense for a shot on target after winning the ball back with a good hustle play in the 30th minute and continuing his run. The shot was right down the middle, unfortunately. He nearly got in on a similar play just before halftime but the whistle blew when the ball took a deflection and bounced up off his arm. He created two scoring chances, made four dribbles, and drew two free kicks. Defensively, he finished with three tackles and an interception. Joao had an 85.4% passing rate. He could have done a tad better with his long ball accuracy (1/4) but it was an otherwise outstanding night. His yellow card was a necessary professional foul.
D, Robin Jansson, 6 — The beefy Swede was partially culpable on the visitors’ goal, running with Dave Romney but he never jumped, allowing the Nashville center back to get up and nod a set piece delivery home in the 16th minute. This is the second straight game where Jansson has been beaten for a goal on an aerial ball and it’s a worrisome trend, because he’s generally good in the air, as shown by his team-high three aerials won in this match. Aside from that, his play was solid as usual, passing at an 89.7% rate and completing four of six long balls. He had a tackle, an interception, three clearances, and two blocked shots at the defensive end.
D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 6.5 — It’s difficult to slot into a game at center back when you’re not seeing a lot of minutes but Schlegel did well stepping in for Antonio Carlos. Danladi made him look bad in the fourth minute to get off a dangerous shot but luckily fired high. One would expect Nashville to try to isolate Schlegel after that point but the visitors weren’t able to do so and the Argentine settled into the match nicely. He was able to range forward and become part of the possession in the attacking half often — tying Moutinho for second-most touches on the team (73) — and made himself a safe outlet when plays broke down. His passing was just 81%, but he spent a lot of time in the offensive half and was 4/9 on long balls. Defensively, he added two tackles, three interceptions, four clearances, and two blocked shots.
D, Ruan, 7 — The speedy Brazilian was an integral part of Orlando’s attack all night and made some good recovery runs to break up potential counters. He was 2/3 on crossing accuracy. His cross in the 12th should have been finished by Daryl Dike, who missed just wide. His cross to Junior Urso in the 72nd also should have been finished but Dike was there to smash home the rebound of the saved header. Ruan was an 84.4% passer, created two scoring chances, and made three interceptions with one tackle and a clearance.
MF, Uri Rosell, 6 — As usual, the Spaniard was the quiet glue in the middle, tying the lines together and switching play from side to side. He anticipated the play well, finishing with three interceptions and a clearance on the night and his 94.7% passing rate was top among Orlando’s starters and he won two aerials.
MF, Sebas Mendez, 5.5 — Mendez’s unnecessary foul set up the set piece on which Nashville scored its only goal. Central midfielders are going to commit fouls, because it goes with the territory, but the young Ecuadorian takes some silly ones in his own half sometimes, and it cost the Lions early. He also didn’t learn from Saturday night’s blind back-heel pass because he tried one in the attacking third just before he was subbed out and it didn’t come close to working. I appreciate the creativity but...come on. He committed three fouls but only made one tackle. His one shot attempt wasn’t close to goal. It sounds like I hated his game but I thought he did well in helping move the ball around where it needed to be all night, passing at a 93.2% clip and provided a lot of assistance in the buildup. He also did well to steer the opposition into his teammates while defending.
MF, Nani, 7 — The captain put in a thorough shift, getting on the ball a game-high 93 times. He took four shots, getting one on target, and created a scoring chance. His shot was a surprisingly powerful one-timer off a Moutinho cross in the 19th minute, which forced a save. His overall passing rate was just 74.2% on a team-high 66 attempts. He made two tackles and won an aerial. He got in a nice cross in the 11th minute intended for Mueller but the defense arrived just in time to poke it out for a corner. He steered the attack and directed his teammates like a maestro all night, pointing out where he wanted them to go, sending 3/5 long balls accurately and sending some dangerous crosses into the area. His crafty pass in the 32nd minute sent Ruan clear down the right side but Mauricio Pereyra took a touch in traffic after receiving Ruan’s cross and the defense shut it down. It was a solid, if unspectacular, night for the captain.
MF, Maurcio Pereyra, 7.5 — The Uruguayan was dangerous all night, providing a primary assist on Daryl Dike’s first goal and getting the hockey assist on Mueller’s, as it was Pereyra who found Moutinho out on the left in the buildup. His passing was excellent, finishing at 89.8%, with four key passes, 2/2 accurate long balls, and 2/3 accurate crosses. He didn’t attempt a shot, and should have hit the aforementioned cross from Ruan with his first touch in the 32nd minute, but he was great otherwise on the night. He also pitched in a tackle and an interception defensively.
MF, Chris Mueller, 7 — Cash is back and helping the offense with both his movement and passing. While he surprisingly didn’t chip in any defensive stats, he was important in possession and in the attack. In addition to his goal, on which he first slipped in the box but then had the presence of mind to lunge for the scoring header on Moutinho’s cross, he added another shot attempt, although it wasn’t on target. He made two key passes, and got a hockey assist on Dike’s first goal, sending Pereyra and the rookie on essentially a 2-v-1 break. He passed at an 84.2% rate and won two aerials. He’ll want to do a bit better with his touch, as he had a team-high five unstable touches and was dispossessed twice.
F, Daryl Dike, 8 (MOTM) — The rookie was dangerous all night, firing a game-high six shots and getting two on goal, both of which went in the net. His hold-up and combination play was good and he continues to occupy center backs to allow room for his wingers, fullbacks, and Pereyra to operate. His 83.3% passing rate is good for a striker (especially a rookie), albeit on only 12 attempts, but he did create a scoring chance as well. He takes his defensive responsibilities seriously, with a tackle and an emphatic clearance on the night. If Dike is only scratching the surface of his abilities, his ceiling may end up being higher than Cyle Larin’s — and all he did was score 43 goals in three seasons. The only real blemishes on his night were a failure to haul in a pass that would have sent him in alone in the seventh minute and a shot off target in the 12th that should have resulted in Orlando’s opening goal.
MF, Junior Urso (66’), 6.5 — The Bear got himself into position for two excellent scoring chances but couldn’t put either of them past Joe Willis. His header off a Ruan cross in the 72nd minute led to Dike’s second goal and he had another opportunity off a corner kick that Willis denied, as Urso hit the target with all three of his shot attempts but couldn’t break through. He passed well (91.3%), won an aerial, and had two interceptions, a tackle, and a clearance in a productive appearance off the bench.
MF, Andres Perea (67’), 5.5 — The 19-year-old came on for Rosell and was decent, but he did get pulled out of position defensively a couple of times when Nashville had some prolonged possession, before Orlando switched to a three-center-backs system late. Once the shape changed, he did a good job of helping the Lions play keep-away. He blocked a shot, completed all 19 of his passes, and played safely (no long ball or cross attempts) as game conditions warranted.
MF, Benji Michel (78’), 5 — After coming on for Pereyra, the second-year pro didn’t get too involved in the action in his 12 minutes plus four added minutes. Michel managed only eight total touches and four passes, but at least he completed all four. Benji registered no shots and no defensive stats, but he did earn one free kick. He nearly got away on a 94th-minute counter but he was pulled down from behind by Alistair Johnston, who was booked.
MF/D, Kamal Miller (85’), N/A — Miller came on for Mueller and slotted in as a bit of a hybrid wingback/fullback as the Lions changed shape to try to get more possession to see out the match. The tactic by Oscar Pareja worked, as Orlando City was able to keep possession for long stretches after the switch, preventing Nashville from getting back into the match. Miller was a contributor to that but it’s difficult to give someone a grade for just five minutes plus stoppage time.
D, Kyle Smith (85’), N/A — Smith came on for Moutinho late as Orlando switched to three at the back (or five at the back, if you prefer to think of it that way). He did well to break up an attack, conceding a corner, but didn’t have enough time to warrant a grade.
That’s how I saw Wednesday night’s performances. Ultimately, Orlando spent most of the match in complete control once the Lions settled in a bit from a bit of a nervy start. Vote for your Man of the Match below and let us know in the comments where you agree/disagree.
Who was your Orlando City Man of the Match in the Lions’ 3-1 home win vs. Nashville SC?
This poll is closed