The Cardiac Cats are back as Orlando City scored in stoppage time to win 2-1 over D.C. United and climbed back up the Eastern Conference standings. Both of Orlando’s goals came from corner kicks as Robin Jansson and Daryl Dike found the back of the net to overcome an early goal by Julian Gressel.
Let’s dive into how each Lion performed in the team’s first win since Sept. 4.
GK, Pedro Gallese, 5 — Gallese was beaten at the near post by Gressel’s powerful shot from distance that seemed to catch the Peruvian goalkeeper off guard. El Pulpo also had a nervy moment early in the second half when he couldn’t handle a cross into the box, but D.C. ultimately wasn’t able to capitalize on the opportunity. Apart from those moments, it was a fairly quiet night for Gallese as he had one save and 26 touches. He completed 15 of his 19 passes for a 79% rate and was accurate on three of his seven attempted long balls. While he hasn’t had a clean sheet since a scoreless match with Inter Miami on Aug. 27, this was the first time since that match that Orlando hasn’t conceded multiple goals in a game. Gallese will join Peru for World Cup qualifiers during this international break.
D, João Moutinho, 6 — Moutinho was fairly involved when on the field, but was taken off at halftime. He had 50 touches in Orlando’s first half and 40 passes at an 83% completion rate. His only attempted cross was unsuccessful as Orlando’s other playmakers weaved most of the team’s chances. Defensively, Moutinho had a tackle, an interception, and a clearance. If his substitution was due to an injury concern, at least he has time to recover as Orlando’s next game isn’t until a road trip to face FC Cincinnati on Oct. 16.
D, Robin Jansson, 7.5 (MotM) — The Swede did a great job following through on a corner kick to score Orlando’s first goal, slamming the ball into the net after Hamid made a save. It was Jansson’s second goal of the season as he continues to make an impact on set pieces. On the defensive side of things, Jansson had three interceptions and a defensive block to limit D.C.’s chances alongside Antonio Carlos. He had 63 touches and completed 87% of his passes. Jansson is the Man of the Match for helping Orlando respond to Gressel’s goal with one of his own and also clamping down on a D.C. offense that scored 12 goals in the previous four games leading up to this match.
D, Antonio Carlos, 7.5 — Carlos led the Lions with seven interceptions as he used great vision and his large frame to cut off passes and regain possession. He also had a tackle and three clearances to help keep D.C.’s offense quiet. He made an important defensive play in the 40th minute to prevent an Ola Kamara breakaway. The center back completed 50 of his 52 passes for a 96% success rate, which is fantastic considering D.C.’s high press to try to force mistakes. Carlos was calm, cool, and collected with 70 touches in the match and no committed fouls — important since he entered the match one yellow card shy of a suspension. His two shots came late in the match as Orlando hunted for a winner. Both were deflected, with the first going out for the corner that led to Dike’s goal.
D, Ruan, 5.5 — The right back’s crossing ability still leaves something to be desired as he was unsuccessful on all three of his attempts. However, one of those crosses was a low effort to Dike that had to be forced out for the corner that resulted in Orlando’s first goal. Ruan seems to be getting better at cutback passes into the box after sprinting down the right side rather than trying to loft the ball in front of goal for someone to head in. He had three tackles and his quickness allowed him to chase down loose balls before D.C. players could reach them. He got beat down his side a couple of times and gave the ball away in his own end a few times in the first half, which affected his score. Ruan played every minute and finished with 68 touches while completing 75% of his 44 passes.
MF, Sebas Mendez, 7 — The Ecuadorian midfielder led the Lions with 97 touches and also had 90 passes at a great 96% success rate. Mendez’ role was crucial for the Lions to get past D.C.’s press as he served as an outlet for passes to help build possession. He had two interceptions and a clearance to help solidify Orlando’s defense in the center of the field. While he didn’t make much of an impact on offense beyond helping the Lions string together passes, his presence allowed players like Mauricio Pereyra and Nani to push higher upfield.
MF, Junior Urso, 5.5 — While Urso made a great play by safely intercepting a low cross in front of goal without putting it into his own net, that initial chance for D.C. was created by Urso’s dispossession and his attempted clearance didn’t end the danger. It was a series of moments that happened for Urso in the match as he tended to turn the ball over and then hustled to make up for it. He also gave away a couple of unnecessary free kicks in his defensive half. He played all 90 minutes and had 77 touches while completing 50 of his 60 passes for an 83% success rate. Urso had a tackle, an interception, and a blocked shot in the match. Offensively, he was able to get enough behind his header from a corner to force a save from Hamid, with Jansson there to put it away. That was one of his two shots and the other was deflected late in the match for a corner. Urso has played every minute of Orlando’s past five games so the international break comes at a great time for the Bear.
MF, Benji Michel, 5.5 — The Homegrown Player used his speed to make great runs throughout the match, flying under the radar a bit to find good spaces. His only shot came in the 35th minute as a great ball by Nani found him in the box. Michel made a nice cutback to shake his defender, but his shot skipped just wide of goal. He didn’t have any key passes and his only cross was unsuccessful. He finished with 36 touches in 82 minutes of action and chipped in with a clearance and an interception when defending.
MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 6.5 — Pereyra did well pulling the strings for Orlando’s offense before coming off in the 71st minute for Silvester van der Water. Both of Pereyra’s two key passes were from corner kicks, including the great service that led to Orlando’s goal. He also attempted two crosses in open play but neither found their target. Pereyra also had a shot, but it was deflected. He finished with 60 touches and completed 83% of his 46 attempted passes.
MF, Nani, 6.5 — The captain was most productive in the first half. Nani made two key passes to set up good opportunities for Orlando and also had two shots, although both were deflected. His only cross of the match was unsuccessful and he shifted to a central role once Pereyra was subbed off. Nani wasn’t able to get much going in the second half and was taken off in the 81st minute for fresher legs. He had 61 touches, three clearances, a tackle, and 44 passes at an 84% success rate. Nani hasn’t scored or made an assist in his past five appearances, but this was his longest shift during that stretch and he will have time to rest before Orlando’s next match.
F, Daryl Dike, 7 — With two defenders covering him, Dike literally rose to the occasion in the final moments of the match to head the ball into the underside of the crossbar and into goal for the game-winner. Dike was outright unstoppable whenever the ball was in his vicinity during the match, using his strength to get past defenders and making two clearances with his head as well. His goal was one of his two shots, the other going off-target early on in the match. D.C. was determined to lock him down and he ended the game with just 26 touches and seven passes at a 100% completion rate as Orlando struggled to get him involved when D.C. dug in its heels in the second half. Regardless, Dike gave Orlando all three points with his late winner and has scored in three straight matches against the Eastern Conference’s toughest opposition.
D, Emmanuel Mas (46’), 6 — The left back came on for Moutinho at halftime and ended up leading the Lions with four tackles and three clearances. He did well on both sides of the ball and came alive on offense once Mueller joined the fray as the pair used their speed and footwork to attack the left side. Mas had 64 touches and was successful on 85% of his 41 passes. It was a solid outing from the Argentine defender.
MF, Silvester van der Water (71’), 5 — Van der Water came on for Pereyra and wasn’t able to make much of an impact with no shots or key passes. His only cross was unsuccessful and he finished with 13 touches and eight passes at a 75% success rate. It wasn’t his best outing, but he wasn’t terrible by any means and helped switch the flow of play when needed.
MF, Andres Perea (81’), N/A — Coming on late for Mendez, Perea completed 14 of 15 passes for a 93% success rate and had 15 touches. He wasn’t involved much in the team’s late push for a goal as D.C. was still capable of going on the counter if Orlando’s attack fell apart. While he didn’t play enough minutes to be graded, he still earns some bonus points for giving Dike a pair of sunglasses during his goal celebration. But where did he get them?
F, Tesho Akindele (81’), N/A — The Canadian nearly scored the winner in the 88th minute with a sliding shot to put the ball on target, but Hamid came up with a great save from his knees and it was cleared off the line. It was his only shot of an otherwise quiet performance as he only had three touches and one pass, which he completed.
MF, Chris Mueller (82’), N/A — It was Mueller’s first appearance since a cameo on Sept. 15 and the winger tried to make the most of his few minutes on the field. He had 26 touches and completed nine of his 13 passes for a 69% completion rate as he worked to make something happen while both of Orlando’s Designated Players were off the field. Mueller delivered the team’s only successful cross in open play, had two key passes, and was also successful on three of his five corner kicks, including the game-winning assist. His corner kick for Orlando’s winner was sublime as he delivered a great ball into traffic for Dike to reach and flick towards goal. With Mueller leaving the team after this year and only a few home games left this regular season, it will certainly be a moment to remember.
That’s how I saw things play out in Orlando’s 2-1 win at home. Make sure to weigh in on how you feel about the grades in the comments below and to vote for who you think deserves the title of Man of the Match.
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