Orlando City grabbed a win in the team’s return to Major League Soccer play with an exciting 3-2 victory. The easiest road trip of all time was nearly a disaster after blowing an early two-goal lead, but Junior Urso played the hero and rescued all three points. Here’s how everyone fared in Orlando’s return to action:
GK, Brandon Austin, 5.5 — It was an ok first outing for Brandon Austin in place of Pedro Gallese. The young Englishman did concede twice, and nearly a third if it wasn’t for Kyle Smith, but also made two good saves. He wasn’t asked to do much in distribution, but completed nine of 12 passes. If there’s one big criticism for Austin it was the way he commanded his area. He wasn’t sharp off his line or in the air, giving Toronto chances. Maybe that’s a bit harsh, but he could’ve been a bigger presence in the box. Granted, he’s young and it’s his first game, so that could easily develop as he gets more comfortable.
D, Joao Moutinho, 7 — Joao was a good contributor against the Reds. He played slightly deeper a lot of the time, more of a left center back almost, but his presence was felt. His passing was important in possession — completed 71 of 84 (85%) — while still adding a forward thrust, adding three accurate long balls, two key passes, and an accurate cross. He also still got forward, finding a half chance in the box he couldn’t control and hit well wide. His defensive work was also impressive with three aerial wins, a tackle, an interception, and nine ball recoveries. The one real demerit on his game was his occasional sloppiness, as he was dispossessed twice. He did also pick up a yellow card on a tactical foul.
D, Robin Jansson, 6 — Not bad, but not an overly influential performance from Jansson. Not too much distribution work from the Swede, with only 33 completed passes (impressive 97% though), including just one completed long ball. Defensively, he made seven clearances, an interception, and two ball recoveries. He was beaten in the air for Toronto’s first goal, and while Ayo Akinola is an incredible athlete, you expect more from your center back that close to goal
D, Antonio Carlos, 6.5 — Another good all-around performance from Antonio Carlos. His distribution was great, completing all 40 of his passes, including six long balls. Defensively, he was his usual self, with 10 clearances, three aerial wins, and four ball recoveries. He also had a blocked shot off a set piece. He was a little slow to close out space, giving the likes of Alejandro Pozuelo and Richie Layrea too much space, and was arguably culpable on Toronto’s second goal after overrunning the play.
D, Kyle Smith, 7.5 — This man just gets the job done. Smith was great for the Lions once again, making countless good defensive plays and providing some danger from the right flank. While he did struggle at times to handle the dribbling of Richie Layrea and company, he did make a tackle, two interceptions, nine ball recoveries, and four clearances, including a fantastic goal-line clearance in the second half. Offensively, he completed 40 of 46 passes (87%), but was a solid creative presence in combination with Silvester van der Water and Urso on the right flank. He had two successful dribbles, a key pass, an off-target shot, and an accurate cross. Smith will never be as dangerous as Ruan in attack, but his all-around excellence and grit might make him a first-team regular even after the Brazillain returns.
MF, Junior Urso, 8 — It was a big box-to-box performance from the Bear against Toronto. Effective in possession and keying the transition, he completed 43 of 47 passes (91%) and got off two shots, including a well-taken goal to win the game late on. He won the ball back in midfield and played a quick one-two with Chris Mueller before making a clean finish. He was also effective defensively, particularly winning the ball back in midfield, with a tackle, interception, and five ball recoveries. Both he and Perea were occasionally caught upfield, giving Toronto space to attack, but their presence pushing forward and on the press gave Orlando a real threat. Urso also picked up his first yellow card of the season.
MF, Andres Perea, 7.5 — An understated but impressive performance from Perea standing in for Sebas Mendez. He was excellent in possession, completing 59 of 63 (94%) of his passes, including three of four long balls. Like Urso, Perea’s defensive presence was impressive, with two tackles, an interception, and seven ball recoveries. He wasn’t as offensively involved as his Brazilian teammate, but he was an effective player who opened things up for the creative players ahead of him, including an excellent line-splitting ball to Mauricio Pereyra that eventually resulted in the opening goal.
MF, Silvester van der Water, 7.5 — Originally this was a little higher, the Dutchman is such a bright spot on this team it’s hard not to highly rate him, but I have to keep myself honest. His intelligence and work rate created the second goal, perfectly pressing Toronto’s Quentin Westberg to force a mistake and create an excellent opportunity in the box. He got a secondary assist for Nani’s goal as a result. He was a goal threat, cutting in from the right, with one shot hitting Westberg and he had goal disallowed for offside just before the half. Unfortunately for Orlando, he really faded down the stretch before being subbed off in the 70th minute for Mueller. In total, he completed 28 of 31 passes (90%), had a key pass, a successful dribble, and six ball recoveries. Even if he faded, the technical quality and dynamism he’s shown the last three games have made him a must-start player and a real threat for Orlando City moving forward.
MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 8 — This is the Mauricio Pereyra we saw last year. The Uruguayan picked up an assist on the opening goal, picking a perfect through ball to the feet of Tesho Akindele. He also played van der Water in behind on multiple occasions with slick passes. Pereyra completed 44 of 53 passes (83%) including four of six on long balls with two key passes as well. If there’s one real demerit to Pereyra’s game it’s his lack of a goal threat. There were opportunities for him to potentially find a shot, but he’s always looking to create. That’s mostly great, and he was good again tonight, I just wish he were more direct at times. Defensively he was involved with six ball recoveries and a clearance.
F, Nani, 8 — Awesome stuff from Nani in his return to action. He got off the mark early, grabbing his fourth goal in his last five appearances in the eighth minute on a good headed finish. He was active, with three shots — including a sublime free-kick just off the mark — and also two key passes. His crossing was dangerous, if slightly underwhelming with only one accurate cross on eight attempts, and he completed 27 of his 35 passes (77%). He got back and contributed defensively as well with a successful tackle and three ball recoveries, while also being a force in the air with three aerial wins. Another great performance from Nani as he continues his scorcher of a start to the season.
F, Tesho Akindele, 8.5 (MoTM) — Tesho has been playing great this season. The Canadian got back on the scoresheet in the first minute of the game and added an assist soon after. While he didn’t have a shot after the goal, his all-around work continues to impress, making selfless runs, pressing hard, and holding the ball up well. He completed 16 of 19 passes (84%), had a key pass, won an aerial duel, made a ball recovery, and made a clearance. He might not be as consistently goal dangerous as Daryl Dike or maybe even Alexandre Pato, but the all-around work Tesho puts in is incredibly valuable.
F, Daryl Dike (64’), 7 — He’s back! It was a good 30-minute shift for the rapidly ascending American. He gave Omar Gonzalez fits, drawing a foul and a yellow card on the top of the box and nearly having another breakaway chance before Chris Mavinga snuffed it out in the box. Not much in the way of stats for Dike though — no shots, only two passes attempted (one completed), and he won an aerial duel. If he gets to go from the jump he will be a nightmare for the opposition.
MF, Chris Mueller (71’), 6.5 — Another mixed bag of a game for Mueller. I will say he was generally pretty good and he did have the assist on the winner — his third of the year. He also had a shot from a dangerous opportunity, though it drifted wide. The execution wasn’t quite there, as on a misplaced pass to a wide-open Dike in the box, but to see Mueller being more direct and aggressive is a promising sign. It wasn’t the most efficient of outings. He only completed four of his seven passes and had some rough touches at times. To his credit, he made up for it with his effort, particularly defensively, where he made two clearances and two ball recoveries.
F, Benji Michel (80’), 6.5 — There’s not much to say about Michel’s game. Brought in to add that extra punch and go for the winner in the last 10 minutes, Michel brought energy to the final third. While he wasn’t really involved in the goal, his pace and willingness to take people on is always welcome late in the game. He did get a shot off, completed two of three passes, won an aerial duel, and made a ball recovery in his 10-minute run out.
That’s how I saw everyone’s performance, but what did you see? Let us know down below and make sure to vote for your Man of the Match.
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