Orlando City’s first home win over the Chicago Fire took a long time to get here and I’m pretty sure nobody envisioned it happening in quite the way it did when the Lions walked off the field with a 4-1 victory last night. After all, you don’t normally see a team get two penalty kicks and have two goals wiped out after video review in the same game. It’s almost like the universe tried to correct all the bad mojo it’s heaped on Orlando City over the previous five years in one fell swoop.
Let’s take a look at the individual performances and hand out some player grades.
GK, Pedro Gallese, 7.5 — El Pulpo faced 19 shots and made two saves on three shots on goal. However, he both of his saves were absolutely filthy stops in last night’s match. The first came on a first-half penalty attempt by Alvaro Medran in the 36th minute. The second was in the 54th minute when he denied Gaston Gimenez with his outstretched arm on a one-time attempt. The match was 2-1 at that point. Those two saves were enormous in keeping the Lions out front and his teammates eventually helped him out by putting two more past Bobby Shuttleworth at the other end. It wasn’t a perfect night, as Gallese spilled a cross that was nearly put back in by Ignacio Aliseda in the 20th minute, but it’s the kinds of saves that El Pulpo made when he had to that make all the difference.
D, Kamal Miller, 6.5 — The Canadian had a much better outing in his return to the starting lineup Saturday night. He got up the field more, provided an outlet when attacks stalled, helped retain possession, and defended more effectively out on the edge. He finished with two tackles, two clearances, an interception, and a blocked shot. He also passed at a 91.3% rate. He didn’t manage any shots or crosses, but that’s not what he’s being asked to do. He provided 45 solid minutes and was subbed off at the break.
D, Robin Jansson, 6 — The beefy Swede returned from injury and was often caught by surprise by the speed of the Chicago attackers. Perhaps it was a bit of rust, but he made no tackles or interceptions, finished with just one clearance, and blocked one shot. His 85.3% passing rate was decent but he was only 1/3 on long balls and marking by everyone on set pieces and in the box during play was a bit lacking on the night.
D, Antonio Carlos, 6.5 — Carlos once again towered over everyone on a set piece to get his head on the ball — in the 82nd minute — but it was off target. He’s going to score one of these days. Carlos was decent on the night, providing two tackles, two interceptions, four clearances, and a blocked shot, with an 88.9% passing rate and 2/4 long ball accuracy.
D, Ruan, 7 — Although he conceded a penalty — with a ball going off his hand when he was tracking a runner — and was shaky at times defending out wide, allowing runners to get by him both outside and inside on the night, the speedy Brazilian still did a lot right. He was threatening all night on the counter and in the general attack up the right side. He created two scoring chances, took one shot (which was on target), and passed at an 87.9% clip. His dime to Nani nearly created a goal in the 81st minute on a pass that deserved to be an assist. In his own end, he had a tackle, an interception, two clearances, and a blocked shot.
MF, Sebas Mendez, 5 — For me, Mendez looked a bit off against the Fire. He gave the ball away with several unforced errors and conceded dangerous set pieces. He made two tackles and a clearance but uncharacteristically had no interceptions. He attempted no shots and his passing accuracy was lower than usual, at just 81.5% and created no scoring chances. Mendez also got booked walking off the pitch during a substitution. He did manage to hit three of his four long balls.
MF, Junior Urso, 7.5 — It was a good night for the Bear, who scored his second goal of the season in the 78th minute, giving the Lions some breathing room. He was a key part of the buildup on Mueller’s opening goal as well. With 90.9% passing, four out of four accurate long balls, a chance created, two shots (one on target), two tackles, and a clearance, Urso was a key factor in the match for the Lions.
MF, Nani, 8 (MotM) — The captain did captain things again, making himself a threat throughout the night. His headed goal was well-placed in the 24th minute and his excellent vision led to his assist on Benji Michel’s goal in stoppage time. He also led all players with six shot attempts and five chances created. He only put one of his shots on frame, but a few others didn’t miss by much. He led Orlando with 69 touches. His 72.2% passing is misleading because there multiple passes he saw that his teammates didn’t and they either didn’t go into the space Nani saw or they were late to recognize it and were second to the ball, but his vision was on display throughout the game. Nani won the free kick that led to Urso’s goal and he sent the ball to Urso to set up Mueller’s goal. He drew two fouls, made three dribbles, and made an incredible move in the 42nd minute to chip the ball past his defender and in on goal but his shot skipped wide.
MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 6.5 — Like Nani, Pereyra made a couple of passes in this match that he saw but his younger teammates didn’t, which affected his 82.1% passing accuracy. He created a scoring chance and got a secondary assist on Nani’s goal. He connected on both of his long ball attempts and both of his cross attempts. He didn’t record any defensive statistics but was always there to turn back a would-be counter or force the Fire to play the ball backward.
MF, Chris Mueller, 8 — Cash took full responsibility for conceding the penalty to start the second half, though in truth, I didn’t think there was much in that call. He opened the scoring with a good cut inside. I guess the fact that his shot was deflected by Medran erased assists for Urso and Nani, but oh well. He gave Nani a goal on a plate with his assist in the 24th minute. He made three dribbles, created three chances, and took two shots (one on target). He almost certainly would have picked up a second goal in the 38th minute if he could have kept his balance after slicing through seemingly the entire Chicago team. He was a 94.4% passer but his defensive work was a bit lax at times, as he finished without a tackle or interception and trailed Chicago’s late runners a couple of times (including on the penalty).
F, Daryl Dike, 6.5 — The rookie has come back down to earth as far as scoring, but Dike is still doing a lot of good things. He attempted two shots — one on goal — and completed just 70% of his passes, but he did win three aerials, moved well without the ball, and held play up pretty well. On the defensive end he chipped in two clearances.
D, Kyle Smith (46’), 6 — Smith replaced Miller at halftime and did about as well, although he was more able to get forward when the Lions attacked. He got into a good position in the 68th minute but sent a cannon shot wide to the right of goal. He was an 80% passer but did struggle with his long ball accuracy, going 0/4. He made one clearance on the defensive end.
F, Tesho Akindele (67’), 5 — The Canadian international was brought on to spell Dike and his hold-up play was pretty decent even though he had a couple of heavy touches. He created one scoring chance, passed at a 78.6% rate, and made one tackle.
MF, Andres Perea (67’), 6.5 — The Colombian teenager was quite active in his run-out Saturday in relief of Mendez. He seemed to be around the action, passing at an 84.6% rate, firing one shot (on target) in the 93rd minute, and setting up Urso’s goal.
MF, Joey DeZart (75’), 6 — The rookie finished with 13 touches and a shot (not on target) after coming on for Pereyra. He completed all six of his pass attempts and recorded one interception.
MF/F, Benji Michel (75’), 7 — Michel looked dangerous from the time he stepped on the pitch, using his pace to put pressure on Chicago. His third goal of the season in the 95th minute came on his only shot attempt. He completed two of his three pass attempts. He made one dribble and drew a free kick just outside the penalty area in the 86th minute.
That is how I saw Orlando City’s performances on Saturday night against the Fire. Who stood out to you? Make sure you vote in our poll below and let me know in the comments if you have some thoughts on where I went wrong.
Who was your Orlando City Man of the Match in the Lions’ 4-1 win over the Chicago Fire?
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