A goal in the seventh minute by Mauricio Pereyra secured three points away from home for Orlando City in a 1-0 win over D.C. United. It was a strong defensive effort as the team achieved its third clean sheet in the first five games of 2021.
Let’s take a look at how each individual Lion did in the win.
GK, Pedro Gallese, 6 — It’s hard to say anything bad about a goalkeeper in a clean sheet. Gallese had a solid game, though he didn’t have that much work in this one. D.C. United only put one of its 13 shots on goal, forcing Gallese to make one save. When Gallese was called upon to make a decision to come off his line, he made the right one and put an end to the United attack.
D, Kyle Smith, 6 — The return of João Moutinho and the injury to Ruan last week allowed Kyle Smith to move back to his natural right back position. Just as he’s been at left back, Smith was solid in this game. Defensively, the right back led the team with seven tackles and also had an interception and two clearances. Offensively, Smith completed 67% of his 42 passes and made one key pass. He was accurate on two of his three crosses and delivered a great long ball to Pereyra in the box for Orlando’s goal.
D, Antonio Carlos, 7 — While Gallese will be credited with the clean sheet, much of the praise should go to the center backs. D.C. had 13 shots in this game but only one was on target and that was largely because opposing players didn’t have great opportunities. Carlos ended the game with three interceptions and a team-leading 13 clearances. Offensively, the defender completed 79.3% of his 20 passes, including seven of his 11 long balls.
D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 6.5 — Similar to Carlos, it was a very solid game from the center back. The defender was strong on the back line, ending the game with two interceptions and seven clearances. Going forward, he completed 67% of his 24 passes.
D, João Moutinho, 6 — This game saw Moutinho return to the starting lineup for the first time since Aug. 29, 2020. His performance was what Orlando City fans were hoping to see from the healthy defender as he helped the back line achieve its third clean sheet of the season. While Oscar Pareja utilizes a system with the outside backs often going forward, Moutinho’s biggest impact was when making a sliding block in the first half that kept a shot from reaching Gallese. Moutinho finished the game with one tackle, four interceptions, and two clearances to go along with the block. He completed 58% of his 45 passes, including one key pass, but he was most impactful when helping the team keep D.C. off the scoreboard.
MF, Sebas Mendez, 6.5 — Defending for 83 minutes is a difficult task and the defensive midfielders were key in the Lions’ success. While both Mendez and Junior Urso were terrific, you can’t find a negative in Mendez’s performance. The midfielder completed 93% of his 43 passes, but his biggest impact was on defense. His seven interceptions were the most on the team and key in keeping D.C. from being sending numbers forward.
MF, Junior Urso, 6 — Urso was solid in this game. The seventh-minute goal meant Orlando City was going to need to defend well for most of the game and Urso made his presence felt. He finished the game with two tackles and two interceptions in the midfield. A link to the attack, Urso completed 77% of his 30 passes before being taken off in the 82nd minute for Joey DeZart.
MF, Benji Michel, 5 — Michel was pretty quiet in his 50 minutes in this game. He only had 14 passes, completed 64% of them, and didn’t take any shots. He had an opportunity to make an impact in the final moments of the first half, but a heavy touch saw him lose a chance at a shot on goal. He was a part of a tactical substitution by Pareja in the 51st minute as Robin Jansson came on as a fifth defender.
MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 7 (MotM) — Mauricio Pereyra was the key player in this game that Orlando City fans have been used to. The midfielder scored his first goal of the 2021 season in the seventh minute, which ended up being the difference. After receiving the ball from Tesho Akindele, Pereyra did well to shield Drew Skundrich and put it past Jon Kempin with his only shot. Aside from the goal, Pereyra was solid in the midfield once again, completing 86% of his 21 passes, including one key pass. Unfortunately, his last action in this game was a booking, but it was a strong performance by the midfielder.
MF, Nani, 6 — Nani saw his three-game scoring streak end in this one but joined in the defensive effort after Pereyra’s early goal, coming away with two tackles and three clearances. He completed 75% of his 40 passes and all four of his shots were off target. He did nearly score another wonderful goal in the first half, but the curling shot just missed the frame. The captain was successful on two of three attempted crosses.
F, Tesho Akindele, 6 — The role of Akindele for much of this game was keeping pressure on D.C. to help maintain the lead. The forward’s only shot in 82 minutes of play was blocked and he completed 65% of his 17 passes. Most importantly, he assisted Pereyra in the seventh minute for the game’s only goal.
D, Robin Jansson (51’), 6 — Jansson made his season debut as a second-half substitute. He replaced Michel to become the third center back when the Lions went to a five-man back line. Despite playing most of the second half, Jansson only completed two of four passes and made one clearance. However, he did help stop D.C. from scoring as the Lions held onto their third clean sheet of the season. Jansson had two clearances and completed nine of his 11 passes.
MF, Andres Perea (70’), N/A - Perea came on in the 70th minute for Pereyra, but didn’t do much in this one. A defensive change, Perea didn’t have any possession, shots, or defensive stats other than a tackle.
MF, Joey DeZart (82’), N/A - DeZart was a part of a double substitution with eight minutes remaining in the game, replacing Urso. While he didn’t make a huge impact, he did block a cross in the dying moments. DeZart did well to keep his arms at his side, ensuring that a penalty wouldn’t be called.
MF, Chris Mueller (82’), N/A - The biggest note about Chris Mueller’s night was that it was his 100th competitive appearance for the club. The other half of the late substitutions, Mueller came on as fresh legs for Akindele. He was booked in stoppage time for time wasting, had one pass, no shots, and no defensive contributions.
That’s how I saw the individual performances of Orlando City in this game. Let us know what you thought about the players and don’t forget to vote for your Man of the Match.
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