It wasn’t always pretty, but Orlando City got the job done and capped off a brutal stretch of three games in seven days, taking all nine possible points. The tired legs nearly got to Orlando, but the Lions’ individual quality and Miami’s shortcomings helped propel Orlando to a memorable 2-1 comeback victory in the quickly intensifying Florida Derby.
How did each Lion fare in Friday’s victory?
GK, Brandon Austin, 6.5 — I’m starting to like Austin. He’s not an elite MLS goalkeeper, but for a young, inexperienced player, he’s pretty good. He made one excellent early save off Jay Chapman and another easy save off a Chapman long shot later in the game. However, he should’ve done better on the Higuain goal. It was a well-placed strike, but from that distance and with that pace on the ball, you expect your keeper to have that one. Despite that, his distribution was good, completing 25 passes, including six long balls, at a 93% rate. He’s good with his feet, something that gives Orlando plenty of flexibility playing out of the back, and his shot stopping has been good enough for a backup.
D, Michael Halladay, 7 — Halladay made just his second MLS start in a primetime, rivalry showdown and held his own against admittedly weak opposition. He did occasionally struggle to contain former Lion Brek Shea, but mostly he handled his business on the right flank. He made two tackles, an interception, five ball recoveries, and two clearances. His offensive performance wasn’t great, but he did get into dangerous positions overlapping from the right. He just didn’t have the vision or quality to find the final ball. He completed 20 of 27 passes (74%) for the game.
D, Robin Jansson, 8 — Great shift from the big Swede. His penetrating long balls played a huge factor in this game, particularly on Orlando’s opening goal. He spotted the run in behind by Nani and put it on a rope for the captain who made some magic of his own. Jansson completed four long balls and 65 passes in total, with a completion percentage of 94%. Defensively, he was rock solid as well, making two clearances and four ball recoveries, winning three tackles, and making four interceptions. That’s an enormous defensive stat sheet from the Viking and excellent work with the ball. You can’t ask for much more from a center back.
D, Antonio Carlos, 7 — Solid game from Antonio Carlos. He wasn’t particularly influential with the ball, but recycled possession well, completing 59 passes at 92%, including five long balls. Defensively, he was reliable, even if his stat sheet isn’t as stuffed as his center back partner. He made three clearances, two interceptions, and three ball recoveries. He did his job and Orlando got the result.
D, Kyle Smith, 7 — Kyle Smith did not have his best game of the season against Miami. Especially in the first half, he struggled to contain Lewis Morgan and his sloppy touches and passes put Orlando in serious danger. To his credit, he pulled it around by the end of the game, and put in a solid if unspectacular performance. He made an impressive three tackles, four clearances, one interception, and 11 ball recoveries — all excellent figures. With the ball, he was less impressive. While he did complete 62 passes at 89%, it was mostly just recycling possession and he never provided an offensive threat. A part of that is tactical. The left back on this team typically plays almost as a third center back in possession, but it’s also Smith’s lack of offensive prowess. Joao Moutinho still makes an impact offensively in that reserved role, Smith didn’t. That’s all mostly nit-picky. In all, it was a solid, no-nonsense performance from El Soldado.
MF, Andres Perea, 8 — I loved what Andres Perea did for Orlando in this game. Playing in Sebas Mendez’s deeper midfield role, Perea was orchestrating the game and cleaning up mistakes in the back end. Defensively, he won two tackles, made an interception, and made a whopping 16 ball recoveries. In possession, he was excellent, completing 90% of his 67 passes, including four successful long balls and a key pass. He nearly created a goal to ice the game late on a breakaway run and completed two dribbles on the night. I might have a slightly rosy picture of Perea’s game, as he was dispossessed three times and both he and Urso were occasionally poor at stopping the ball as it entered dangerous areas, but I can’t help but praise an exceptional performance from the young U.S. international.
MF, Junior Urso, 5 — Urso has played so much the last couple of weeks, he was bound for a slightly down game. He was sloppy in possession, making a few dangerous turnovers, and didn’t have the legs to consistently track runners, including on Higuain’s goal. However, his overall game was not terrible. His stat sheet is among the most impressive on the team. He racked up three key passes, completed two dribbles, made 10 ball recoveries, had three — largely wasteful — shots, drew three fouls, and completed 36 of 43 passes (84%). Of everyone on this list, Urso will be the most divisive. Could he have been better? Yes, and if Orlando had a little more depth available in midfield, he wouldn’t have started, but it was still a solid shift from the Bear.
MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 4.5 — I was not impressed by Pereyra’s performance in the slightest. Maybe that’s overly negative, but the Uruguayan was lacking sharpness all night. Granted, he was dealing with a knock and arguably shouldn’t have even played. He only completed 75% of his 16 passes and didn’t have any key passes or chances created. His sloppiness nearly got him in trouble, with a late challenge following a turnover resulting in a yellow card. Pereyra was not good enough tonight, and while it might not have been entirely his fault, it was a tough outing.
MF, Silvester van der Water, 5 — Similar to Pereyra, van der Water was massively disappointing in his 45 minutes of action. To his credit, he was active and got into good areas, but his delivery in the final third was poor. None of his three crosses were accurate, he failed to register a shot, and completed only one of three dribbles. He only completed 12 of his 18 passes (67%) passes for the game. He did make an interception and three ball recoveries, and drew two fouls.
F, Nani, 9 (MotM) — What more can we say about this guy? Even on a slightly off night when he and his team were clearly exhausted, Nani’s quality still shines through. The goal was absolutely fantastic, nobody stopped the ball and Nani just ripped the top corner. He was also instrumental in the first goal, making a darting run in behind that Jansson picked out, before dropping a peach of an assist off the volley to the foot of Chris Mueller. Throughout the game, Nani was teasing a big moment with several half chances on audacious efforts and was awarded in the end. The captain finished with five shots, three on target, two key passes, completed 28 of 42 passes (67%), made a tackle and had four ball recoveries. If anyone is having an MLS MVP conversation that doesn’t include Nani, they’re just wrong.
F, Daril Dike, 5.5 — It was a quiet second start for Daryl Dike in Ft. Lauderdale. He only had 14 touches all game, no shots, and struggled to find his feet in the game. He completed two of six passes, but one of them triggered a breakaway off a set piece. Despite his lack of service, he was still a handful for Miami, drawing two fouls and consistently occupying the center backs. He also made a headed clearance and a tackle before being subbed off for Tesho Akindele.
M, Chris Mueller (45’), 8 — Probably the best game of the season so far for Mueller. He finally got his goal, finishing Nani’s unreal pass into the box. Outside of that, he just added so much energy and a real spark offensively. He nearly had another goal, only denied by a great kick save by John McCarthy, and finished with three shots. The one thing Mueller needed this year was that aggression and decisiveness and it was finally on display against Miami. He also completed a cross, nine of 12 passes (75%), drew a foul, made a headed clearance, and made a ball recovery. This was vintage super-sub Mueller, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
F, Benji Michel (45’), 7.5 — Benji was similar to Chris Mueller, providing a much needed spark after an ugly first half. His strength and dribbling ability gave Orlando a more direct outlet and helped get the best out of Nani. He had the assist on Nani’s game-winning scorcher and finished with two key passes (completed 76% of his 17 passes in total). He also made a tackle, a ball recovery and a headed clearance. This has been a fantastic stretch of games for Michel. He’s still not the cleanest player on this team, but his energy and ability to beat players or make a play on the wing has been spectacular.
F, Tesho Akindele (64’), 6.5 — Tesho didn’t do much in his 25 minutes of action. Only 10 touches for the Canadian international, including three completed passes, but his off-ball play helped Orlando finish the game. He also won a pair of aerial duels and made a ball recovery. Most importantly, his time wasting was impressive late in the game, showing that veteran cheekiness you want from Tesho.
MF, Uri Rosell (77’), 5 — Honestly, I didn’t really notice Uri in his limited run. He completed two of four passes, and made a tackle and ball recovery. The biggest impact he had on the game was a nearly disastrous giveaway just above his own penalty box. Fortunately, Orlando snuffed out the danger and got the ball out, with the play ending with Nani’s goal.
MF, Joey DeZart (84’), N/A — It was the fifth cameo appearance of the year for DeZart. He didn’t have much to do, mostly just staying in the defensive shape. He completed a pass and could’ve had a late goal-scoring opportunity if Perea had passed him the ball on his late breakaway.
That’s how I thought everyone rated last night, but what did you see? Leave your thoughts below and make sure to vote for your Man of the Match.
Who was your Orlando City Man of the Match in a 2-1 comeback victory over Inter Miami?
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