Orlando City earned its third-straight 1-1 draw against an MLS opponent, although this one came on the road against Nashville SC. After a sloppy first half, the Lions battled back to score and leave Nissan Stadium with a point. There were times when the Lions looked as if they would be blown out and times when they nearly took all three points.
Let’s dive into how each Lion rated in this draw on the road.
GK, Mason Stajduhar, 6 — The rainy conditions turned routine saves into balls that needed to be punched away by Stajduhar. He wasn’t able to come up with the save on C.J. Sapong’s goal, the forward’s shot neatly tucked in the bottom right corner. Stajduhar made three saves, his most in an MLS game, and looked comfortable rushing out to shut down Nashville’s attack to add two clearances to his stats. He also made a great save on Alistair Johnston’s low shot towards the near post, but Johnston was ruled offside so Stajduhar didn’t get official credit. The 23-year-old was only accurate on one of his five attempted long balls, completing just 14 of his 18 total passes. He also spilled a couple of crosses, although given the conditions this isn’t completely surprising and none of them ended up being costly. So his distribution definitely needs some work, although Nashville did a good job winning the ball in the air. While he’s still on the hunt for his first clean sheet, Stajduhar hasn’t been a liability for the Lions while Pedro Gallese recovers.
D, Joao Moutinho, 6 — His poor giveaway created the scoring opportunity that resulted in Nashville’s goal, Sapong pouncing on his pass back to Robin Jansson and storming down the field with Hany Mukhtar to score. It wasn’t his only mistake either, as he struggled defensively at times against Mukhtar. But Moutinho found moments of redemption as the game wore on. He was successful on one of his two crosses, sending a beautiful ball into the box that was reminiscent of the crosses Moutinho made last year. On one of them, Tesho Akindele’s header hit the crossbar, just inches away from letting Moutinho atone for his earlier mistake. The left back stepped up on defense late in the match too by making a crucial clearance at the back post. Moutinho led the team with 100 touches and 81 passes. Of those 81 passes, Moutinho completed 68 of them for an 84% success rate. That aforementioned clearance was his only one of the game, but he did have an interception and a defensive block as well.
D, Robin Jansson, 6.5 — The masked Swede had a tackle, two clearances, and a defensive block in a solid defensive performance against a Nashville offense that entered this match with 27 goals scored at home in 2021. Jansson wasn’t able to make much of a difference on Nashville’s goal, forced to keep a body on Mukhtar during a fast break after Moutinho’s turnover. He picked up a yellow card by pulling down Mukhtar right outside of the box to snuff out a dangerous opportunity. The free kick was from a good spot, but Mukhtar hit the top of the crossbar. Jansson had 76 touches and was successful on 90% of his 69 passes. Although style points don’t factor into his rating, it’s worth noting the cool factor of Jansson’s mask in the heavy rain.
D, Antonio Carlos, 7 (MotM) — Don’t look now, but Carlos is evolving into a force to be reckoned with in dead ball situations. The center back scored his second goal of the season, powering a header past Nashville SC goalkeeper Joe Willis after a free kick cross from Mauricio Pereyra. Carlos has been working on his headers all season long, so it’s nice to see that paying off. Defensively, he led the team with a whopping six clearances, with three of those coming after the 80th minute mark as Nashville pushed forward to try and take all three points. Carlos also had a tackle, an interception, a defensive block, and won five of his nine aerial duels. He had 73 touches and completed 87% of his 60 passes. On Nashville’s goal, his sliding tackle couldn’t disrupt Sapong from surging past the defense. Like Jansson, he picked up a yellow card for a professional foul to stop a potential counter.
Carlos is our Man of the Match for scoring the equalizer in a match that looked grim at times for the Lions. His work late in the match also helped secure a result on the road. If he can continue to score to add another element to his game, then he will certainly become an MLS Defensive Player of the Year candidate.
D, Kyle Smith, 6 — It was a quiet night for Smith, which is hardly a bad thing from a defensive point of view, considering he’s had to make game-saving plays for the Lions this year. He finished with a tackle, an interception, and a clearance in his 19th start this season. Smith played all 90 minutes and ended the game with 55 touches and completed 34 of his 39 passes for an 87% success rate. The right back didn’t make much of an impact on offense, with neither of his two crosses finding their mark. He picked up a yellow card, but the foul was in Nashville’s half so it didn’t end up hurting the Lions.
MF, Junior Urso, 6 — The Bear had a busy night, playing all 90 minutes and finishing with 82 touches and 67 passes at a strong 93% completion rate. Urso was fouled five times and won the free kick that led to Orlando’s goal. One of his two shots were deflected while the other was from distance after a series of passes, but the ball went high even though it was a decent try. He had a tackle and an interception when helping out on defense and did a good job feeding the ball to Pereyra and the offense once the Lions were trailing. All in all, it was nice work from Urso despite some miscues here and there. Urso’s endured plenty of fouls from opponents in recent weeks, but did well to keep his cool and bring some stability to Orlando’s midfield.
MF, Joey DeZart, 5 — The 23-year-old was often Orlando’s weakest link on the field. DeZart lacked precision and presence at times. It might be because DeZart is usually used as a late substitute with fresh legs in most matches, but he played a bit slower than his teammates and didn’t win any of his battles in the air. DeZart was a step behind Nashville’s midfielders, but did have an impressive 92% completion rate on his 50 passes and led the team with three interceptions. He played all 90 minutes and also came up with a late clearance that stopped a flurry of attacks by Nashville. DeZart didn’t have any impact on offense and ended the game with 57 touches. While these are the growing pains that come from earning needed minutes in MLS, DeZart certainly struggled at times in his second start of the season — mainly in the first half.
MF, Silvester van der Water, 6.5 — The Dutchman led the Lions with four shots, putting one on target while another was deflected. His best opportunity came in the 11th minute when he curled a shot past defenders to force Nashville goalkeeper Joe Willis to make a tough save. He had a poor first touch at times in the match, even when taking the rain into consideration. The winger’s lone cross of the match found Akindele’s head in the box, but the shot was too high. Van der Water also led the team with three tackles, hustling so Nashville couldn’t have complete control of the midfield. He completed 80% of his 25 passes, was successful on two of his three attempted dribbles, and had 44 touches.
MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 7 — With Nani absent, Pereyra wore the captain’s armband and stepped up to create chances for Orlando. The Uruguayan led the team with six key passes. Four of those came in the second half as Orlando pushed higher upfield while chasing the game and had more success breaking Nashville’s lines. While this helped Orlando put more pressure on Nashville’s three-man defense in open play, Pereyra’s assist came from a free kick. Pereyra served a terrific ball over the top of Nashville’s defenders for Carlos to head home. It was Pereyra’s eighth assist of the season and 20th as a Lion since joining in the summer of 2019. His only shot was from another free kick, but it went over the bar. Pereyra was subbed off in the 84th minute and finished with 68 touches and an interception, and he was successful on one of his two attempted crosses in open play. He completed 48 of his 58 passes for a decent 83% completion rate. It was another good showing from the maestro as he pulled the strings of an offense that was without some of its weapons.
MF, Benji Michel, 5.5 — Playing on the left wing, Michel had 37 touches and completed 84% of his 19 passes. He didn’t have any crosses or key passes and two of his three shots were deflected while another went just wide. Michel was the least effective of Orlando’s attacking players and wasn’t able to get past Nashville’s formidable defense as he was only successful on one of his five attempted dribbles. He didn’t have any tackles or interceptions and was subbed off in the 83rd minute. The Homegrown Player has started in eight straight MLS games for Orlando, but only has one goal and an assist during that stretch.
F, Tesho Akindele, 6 — Walker Zimmerman and the rest of Nashville’s defense made Akindele’s night difficult as he only won two of his seven aerial duels. He was still effective on offense though, nearly scoring in the dying moments of the first half by getting his head on the end of a good cross into the box by Pereyra. But he wasn’t able to get enough on the wet ball to really drive it at goal, the bouncing shot saved by Willis, just inches from getting through. Akindele had a similar opportunity in the 75th minute when Moutinho found him wide open in the box, but his shot smacked into the crossbar. The Canadian striker finished with three shots and a key pass that gave van der Water a good chance to score. Akindele had 41 touches and completed 25 of his 27 passes for a great 93% success rate. He also chipped in with two clearances and interception to help out on defense. It was a game of inches for Akindele as Orlando awaits the return of its more lethal strikers.
MF, Chris Mueller (82’), N/A — The stage wasn’t exactly set for Mueller to come on and find a game-winner, so don’t look too much into his lack of offensive stats in his cameo. He only had four touches and was unsuccessful on his only attempted dribble, which wasn’t the worst thing in the world as he ate up a little time with the ball deep in Nashville’s half while Orlando’s defense caught its breath and reformed its shape. He completed his only attempted pass, a short pass to Ruan on the right side.
D, Rodrigo Schlegel (82’), N/A — The center back came on to strengthen Orlando’s defense once Nashville really started to throw numbers forward. Schlegel had a clearance and nine touches. He only completed two of his six passes, although the incompletions weren’t short attempts. Schlegel did what he came on to do, giving Orlando another defender for Nashville to deal with.
D, Emmanuel Mas (88’), N/A — The left back was inserted into the left field to give the Lions a little more defensive bite late in the match. Mas had three touches and completed all three of his passes in a brief outing.
F, Ruan (88’), N/A — The right back was actually deployed at the top of Orlando’s offense late in the match. An onslaught of attacks by Nashville didn’t open much opportunity for Ruan to use his speed to beat defenders. Ruan had two touches and completed both of his passes.
That’s how I saw things play out in Orlando’s 1-1 draw against Nashville. Make sure to weigh in on how you feel about the grades in the comments below and to vote for who you think deserves the title of Man of the Match.
Who was your Orlando City Man of the Match in the Lions’ 1-1 draw at Nashville SC?
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Silvester van der Water
Other (let us know in the comments)