Winning is fun. Orlando City got back on track yesterday with a big 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Union in Exploria Stadium. After three disappointing results on the bounce, getting a win over another top side in the standings is a massive confidence boost. Orlando did a much better job controlling and using possession to attack the Union and held off a handful of quality chances to secure all three points.
How did each Lion fare in one of Orlando’s biggest wins of the season?
GK, Pedro Gallese, 8 — It’s great having an elite goalkeeper back between the sticks. Gallese wasn’t asked to do a lot for most of the game, but when Philadelphia got its chances, El Pulpo was there. Gallese made four saves in the game, including multiple huge stops in tight towards the end of the match to secure all three points. His reaction time is ridiculous and He did concede a goal, but that’s not on the goalkeeper.
D, Joao Moutinho, 7 — Good performance for Moutinho as he continues his run of consistent game time. He continues to be a solid asset in possession, completing 50 passes in this game, and pushed a little more forward with a completed cross and a successful dribble. At times, he showed flashes of the technical quality and attacking instincts that made him such a weapon for Orlando in seasons past. Defensively, it was a bit of a mixed bag. Moutinho had a pretty solid night with three successful tackles, three interceptions, four ball recoveries, and two clearances, but there were quite a few times, particularly in the second half, when he would be caught out and give too much space in behind. Also, Philadelphia’s goal came from a missed clearance by Moutinho, so that’s a negative as well.
D, Robin Jansson, 7 — Somewhat quiet — except for a smashed nose — but quality performance for Jansson on Thursday night. He was good on the ball again, completing 95% of his 37 passes, and his defensive stats continue to impress, with another seven clearances and four ball recoveries in this game. I don’t know of a time Jansson was out of position or got beat by his man in this game as he continues to be an elite MLS center back. Let’s hope his nose is all right after that collision with Rodrigo Schlegel late in this game.
D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 6.5 — Schlegel always gives a strong performance when he’s called upon, and Thursday was no exception. He was good defensively in this game and made eight clearances and a tackle. While he’s not a great on-ball presence, he did complete 22 passes at 85% and cycled possession well. Towards the latter stages of the game, he did have some shaky defensive moments, including getting beat to a ball in the box for Philadelphia’s goal and getting caught high stepping to the ball opening space in behind, but in general Schlegel had a tidy game in this one.
D, Kyle Smith, 7.5 — Kyle Smith played hero at the end in this game after a good overall performance. His goal line clearance at the end, while not incredibly acrobatic or spectacular, showed good defensive instincts and the type of gritty play that makes Smith such a beloved player on this team. It’s not always pretty with El Soldado, but it’s usually pretty effective. His defensive work, including another clearance and five ball recoveries, was business as usual for Smith. What was surprising was some of his offensive play including two successful dribbles, one of which was a great bit of skill. His crossing remains a blight on his resume, with none of his three crosses finding a target. Smith also completed 28 of 37 passes (76%), including a key pass.
MF, Andres Perea, 8 — The young midfielder continues to impress this season. His moment of the match came in the 59th minute when he got his head on an excellent Nani cross and perfectly placed it in the far corner. I did not know Perea had that in his locker and it was a treat to see. Perea continues to be solid on the ball, completing a lot of efficient short passes and clean half-turns into space on the dribble. In this game he completed 41 passes at 87%, including a key pass, and he also cleaned up with solid defensive work, including a clearance, an interception, and nine ball recoveries. There were times he was sloppy in possession or put a foot wrong defensively, but it was a great overall performance in the center of the park for Perea.
MF, Uri Rosell, 7 — Solid if unspectacular performance from Rosell. He’s the type of player whose impact isn’t super noticeable, as he mostly retains possession or closes off space defensively — all things he did pretty well! He completed 35 passes, mostly short passes in Orlando’s half, but also helped hold possession when the Lions pushed forward. Rosell also made five ball recoveries and an interception defensively. A good, complementary game for him as he too works back into consistent MLS minutes.
MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 8 (MotM) — Just a few days after I criticized his largely lackluster season, El Maestro put on a show against the Union. His assist was absolutely spectacular, with an inch-perfect pass through the teeth of the Philadelphia back line to the foot of Benji Michel. Pereyra was much more involved in the game, controlling the tempo and the attack. He completed 37 passes at an efficient 90% rate and most of them were in the opposition half. He even had a solid chance on goal in the first half, the one real weakness to his game. If there was any real problem with Pereyra’s performance it was the second half. He ran out of steam toward the end and wasn’t as dynamic. And of course we have to mention the yellow card which will see him suspended for Sunday’s match, though to blame Pereyra for that would be harsh, as it was barely any contact and extreme embellishment on the part of Jose Martinez.
MF, Benji Michel, 7.5 — It starts with his well-taken goal in the 10th minute. Michel made a great darting run in behind the Philadelphia defense and after a fantastic ball from Pereyra, he coolly slotted it home to the far post. Michel was also impressive in other aspects of the attack as well, providing a creative spark from the left wing, even registering a key pass. He completed 29 passes at a solid 83% and completed a dribble. Michel also got back and did his defensive duties with two tackles and four ball recoveries. This was yet another good performance for Michel, who is increasingly looking like a regular starter for this team. He did pick up a yellow card for taking off his shin guards as he came off the pitch.
F, Chris Mueller, 6 — Quiet night for Mueller in his first game following news of an impending transfer to Scottish side Hibernian and in a rare appearance up top. In 70-plus minutes of action, Cash failed to register a shot or key pass. He was also fairly sloppy, being dispossessed once and losing most of his duels. To his credit, he did create a half-chance with an aggressive run into the box before sliding it across to Nani who had the ball knocked away. Mueller also completed 15 of 21 passes (71%), drew a foul, and made a ball recovery.
F, Nani, 7.5 — This did not start as a particularly great game for Nani. He was sloppy and largely unproductive for most of the early going, but a player like Nani only needs a few moments to make his impact felt. His assist to Perea off a recycled set piece was the little bit of brilliance we’ve come to expect from the captain. There was a run in the second half where he was clearly the best player on the field and exploited an overmatched Philly defense. Nani was also heavily involved in possession, completing 41 passes and five dribbles. He also chipped in a little defensively with a clearance and two ball recoveries. Far from perfect, but still another magical night for Nani.
F, Silvester van der Water (73’), 6 — Nothing much to say for van der Water. Since his early breakout, he’s regressed hard to the mean and has been pretty much a non-presence, including in this game. Granted, he wasn’t asked to do much and the team played a rather defensive shape most of the time he was out there. In total he completed a dribble plus all five of his passes and made an interception. Not terrible, but far from impactful.
D, Antonio Carlos (73’), 6.5 — Welcome back! Antonio Carlos has been out of the lineup since a scary looking injury against the New York Red Bulls back on July 3, and he got about 20 minutes of action under his belt in his return to the field. He made an excellent play to put the ball out of play at the end of the match, ending any chance at another last-gasp attack from the Union. Outside of that, he wasn’t asked to do all that much but looked good. Carlos completed nine passes, made two clearances, one interception, and a ball recovery.
F, Tesho Akindele (78’), 6.5 — Much like Carlos, Tesho had little to do in this game, but helped seal the deal with his excellent defensive work rate. While he only completed four passes and didn’t create anything offensively, he also made a clearance and ball recovery.
MF, Joey DeZart (78’), 6.5 — DeZart isn’t a particularly dynamic player, but he’s a solid young option. In one of his longer Orlando City appearances, the second-year midfielder was good with the ball, completing five of six passes and helping the Lions see out the lead.
F, Alexander Alvarado (83’), N/A — Alvarado made a late cameo to give Nani a much-needed rest. The Ecuadorian completed three passes in his short time on the field.
That’s how I saw Thursday’s match, but what did you see? Comment your ratings below and make sure to vote for your Man of the Match.
Who was your Orlando City Man of the Match in the Lions’ 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Union?
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