Orlando City’s season came to an end in Nissan Stadium after a 3-1 loss on the road to Nashville SC in the MLS playoffs. Daryl Dike scored early on to give Orlando a lead, but Hany Mukhtar’s brace and a late goal from Jhonder Cadiz snuffed out Orlando’s postseason campaign.
How did each player perform in the Lions’ final game of 2021?
GK, Pedro Gallese, 5.5 — El Pulpo didn’t have much of a chance on Nashville’s first goal as Mukhtar’s shot from distance took a deflection. Later on in the first half, Gallese came up with a great diving save to deny Mukhtar’s well-placed shot toward the bottom left corner. He wasn’t able to make a save against Nashville’s two goals in the second half and finished with three saves. Gallese did well in terms of distribution as he was accurate on 10 of his 13 long balls and completed 20 of his 23 passes for an 87% success rate.
D, Emmanuel Mas, 6 — The left back was kept busy against Nashville’s offense as he led the Lions with four tackles and also had three interceptions and two clearances. He was out-paced on Mukhtar’s second goal, with the MVP candidate beat him in the 1-on-1 by racing right to left across the top of the area and no help arrived from the center backs or midfield. Mas also led the Lions with a whopping 85 touches while completing 83% of his 54 passes. He was successful on his lone cross and was subbed off in stoppage time for Silvester van der Water.
D, Robin Jansson, 5.5 — The Beefy Swede got twisted around by a good run in the box from CJ Sapong that gave Mukhtar just enough time and space to pick out his shot for Nashville’s second goal. Jansson had two clearances in the match as he worked to stop Nashville’s offense. He completed 48 of his team-high 55 passes for an 87% success rate and had 61 touches to help Orlando build possession out of defense.
D, Antonio Carlos, 5.5 — The Brazilian center back led the team with five clearances, with all five taking place in the first half. His effort to stop Mukhtar’s shot in transition was unfortunate as the deflection prevented Gallese from attempting a save on the first goal. He and Jansson needed to communicate better on the second Mukhtar goal and he was beaten for the insurance goal late by the fresh legs and large frame of Cadiz. Carlos did well on Orlando’s goal as he drew attention with his run towards the near post to open up space for Dike. Carlos ended the game with 64 touches, two interceptions, and 53 passes at a 79% success rate.
D, Ruan, 5 — It was a quiet match from Ruan as the right back finished with 45 touches and 35 passes at a 77% completion rate. He had no shots, crosses, or key passes as Orlando wasn’t able to get him involved on offense. Ruan also didn’t have any defensive stats as most of Nashville’s scoring opportunities came on the counter rather than building possession on his side of the pitch. During a game in which Orlando’s wingers found themselves in good positions, it’s surprising that Ruan wasn’t able to utilize his speed to impose himself more on the match.
MF, Sebas Mendez, 6 — The Ecuadorian midfielder had a pair of shots following corner kicks in the second half. The first shot would have been on target but was deflected out of play while the second was sent just wide of goal. Mendez helped out on defense with a tackle and two interceptions, but he could’ve better pressured Sapong on the play that led to Nashville’s second goal. His yellow card in the 65th minute took some of the bite out of his presence in the midfield as he had to be a bit more decisive in his challenges. Mendez was substituted off for more firepower in the 80th minute, finishing with 58 touches and 48 passes at a 90% success rate.
MF, Junior Urso, 4.5 — The Bear had one of his roughest performances this year. His turnover in the midfield wasn’t solely on him due to the weight of the pass, but it led to Nashville’s equalizer in the 21st minute as Godoy picked his pocket and Mukhtar was there to make something happen. While Urso completed 90% of his 39 passes, he was sluggish at times against Nashville in the midfield and indecisive in the final third. Of his two shots, one was off target while the other was easily handled by Joe Willis. His lone key pass set Nani up for a shot that was blocked. Urso’s only defensive stat was a block and he ended the game with 51 touches.
MF, Benji Michel, 5 — The winger made decent runs at times and got into good areas but wasn’t able to make much happen. There were indecisive moments, slips, and heavy touches that affected him throughout the night. Although he led Orlando with two key passes, Michel had no shots in 75 minutes of action and often tried a cutback move that Nashville had no trouble dealing with. The Homegrown Player had 37 touches and completed 14 of his 17 passes for an 82% success rate. It was a rough outing for Michel, although he helped defensively with a tackle and won four of his five aerial duels on offense. His biggest contribution in the match was winning the corner that led to Orlando’s goal.
MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 6.5 — The Uruguayan delivered a perfect ball from a corner kick for Dike to get on the end of to give the Lions an early lead. Although that assist was Pereyra’s only key pass and the one of his five crosses that was successful, there were other great passes from the Designated Player throughout the match. However, Nashville did a good job cutting off passes and double teaming him, as he ended the game with 50 passes at a 74% success rate. Pereyra had 67 touches, a tackle, an interception, and picked up a yellow card while playing every minute of the match.
MF, Chris Mueller, 4.5 — In his last game as a Lion, Mueller struggled to get much going on offense. He didn’t have any shots or key passes and was unsuccessful on his lone cross. He played 81 minutes and completed 28 of his 38 passes for a 74% completion rate. Mueller had 51 touches in the match and helped out defensively with two tackles as well. Like Michel, Mueller lacked a killer instinct when attacking and wasn’t able to lift the Lions as his time in Orlando comes to a close.
F, Daryl Dike, 7 (MotM) — The forward scored yet again against Nashville as he gave the Lions an early lead in the 14th minute. Dike did well to meet a corner kick from Pereyra to flick a header past Willis and into the back of the net. His other shot was blocked late in the match as Orlando hunted for an equalizer that never came. Dike won four of his seven aerial duels to gain possession upfield and finished with 22 touches and 11 passes at a 73% success rate. The 21-year-old is our Man of the Match for stepping up and scoring on the road against one of the best defenses in MLS.
F, Nani (75‘), 6 — Coming onto the field just moments after Mukhtar gave Nashville the lead, Nani gave the Lions a needed spark to try and claw their way back into the match. His only shot was heading in but was blocked by Walker Zimmerman and neither of his two crosses were successful despite good service into the box. He had 16 touches and completed four of his eight passes. The Designated Player ultimately wasn’t able to give the Lions an equalizer in a tough environment, but was able to create some chances.
F, Alexandre Pato (80’), 6 — Pato didn’t have any shots or key passes, but still did a good job facilitating play in the midfield once he came on. His silky movement also won a free kick in a dangerous area for Orlando to take advantage of. He finished with eight touches and completed five of his six passes.
F, Tesho Akindele (81’), 6 — Although both of Akindele’s shots were off target, they weren’t easy chances. On the first, he tried to weave a quick shot around Daniel Lovitz and he followed with a flicked a header towards the far post that went wide. He also had a key pass for heading a ball towards Dike, who had his shot blocked. Akindele was successful on three of his five aerial duels, had seven touches, and completed all five of his passes.
MF, Silvester van der Water (90’+2), N/A — The Dutchman came on late in an effort to throw everything Orlando had at Nashville. His only cross was successful as he whipped a great ball in that found Akindele in the box. That was about the extent of his contributions though as Cadiz scored shortly after and the whistle blew. Van der Water had four touches and completed one of his two passes.
That’s how I saw things play out in Orlando’s 3-1 loss on the road to Nashville SC. Make sure to leave your thoughts down below and vote for your Orlando City Man of the Match.
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