Orlando City’s trip to Los Angeles took on added importance after fumbling away points at home to FC Cincinnati a week ago. The Lions have historically done poorly on the west coast, especially in the state of California, so I wasn’t too optimistic about them bringing points home, let alone three. Yet the team dug in and kept concentration throughout a tight, nervy affair, playing much of it in their own third. Orlando City’s 1-0 win over the Galaxy can be seen as a “makeup win” of sorts after the Cincinnati game, because fans may have expected those results to be reversed when looking ahead at the schedule.
Let’s get to the individual performances in a vital road victory.
GK, Pedro Gallese, 8 — Thanks to the team in front of him, El Pulpo wasn’t called on that often to make big saves, but he did so when needed. Much like the Lions at home against Cincy, the Galaxy weren’t sharp in the final third. Credit some of that to the defense, of course. Gallese finished with three saves. One was a good one on a shot through traffic by Chicharito. He couldn’t control the rebound, but it luckily was a bit out of Kevin Cabral’s reach for the put-back. He did well on a smashed shot/cross at the near post by Efrain Alvarez in the second half, sacrificing a sensitive part of his body to smother a dangerous ball in that could have gone anywhere. It wasn’t the Octopus’ best passing game at just 53.6% (and just 8/20 on long balls) but it was often a case of “anywhere will do,” and you don’t take chances on the road — especially with Chicharito on the field.
D, Joao Moutinho, 6 — This wasn’t the Portuguese left back’s strongest game, but he was asked to do a lot, leading the team in touches (68 — 11 more than the next closest Lion, Cesar Araujo) and being tasked with watching Douglas Costa and Alvarez. He had a couple of bad giveaways that led to chances, and he was roasted by Alvarez on the play mentioned above. Moutinho was dispossessed twice and had three bad touches. I didn’t like the yellow card, which came on a ball he won cleanly and his opponent got there late and got himself clipped on the follow through when he wasn’t abnormally extended. Some of his missteps come down to volume due to being on the ball so often. That doesn’t excuse his lack of connectivity in the final third — on one occasion he was indecisive about getting to the end line and got his cross blocked out for a corner. Still, Joao had two tackles, an interception, two clearances, and a blocked shot. He had one dribble and passed at an 85% rate, but was just 1-for-4 on long balls and 0-for-2 on crosses.
D, Robin Jansson, 6.5 — The Beefy Swede had a workmanlike effort, helping keep Chicharito and Cabral quiet in front. It wasn’t a perfect game, with Jansson passing at just 82.6%, which was the lowest on the back line. He was 2/4 on long balls but didn’t realease those really killer line-breaking passes we’re used to seeing and he was conservative about jumping into the play, which was probably by design. He blocked three shots and had three clearances to go with his two interceptions. He had the fewest touches of the back line players with a quietly solid performance.
D, Antonio Carlos, 8.5 (MotM) — The Brazilian defender had a monster game as the most active member of Orlando’s back line. He led all players with 14 clearances, winning vital balls in the air on a huge number of LA set pieces throughout the match. AC chipped in two tackles, an interception, and a blocked shot. His 50 touches were fourth most on the team, behind Moutinho and the double-pivot players — Araujo and Sebas Mendez. He had a great passing rate of 89.3%, with a lot of pressure in his face, and completed five of his eight long balls. He also attempted one of Orlando’s six shots, although the corner kick cross was behind him so he was unable to put it anywhere near the target.
D, Ruan, 6 — One of these days, Ruan’s going to have a fantastic day crossing the ball and it will be glorious. That wasn’t Saturday. Two extremely wasteful crosses perhaps cost the Lions a chance to put the game away. One was way behind his teammates and the other was too far in front. The speedy Brazilian was accurate on one of his three crosses and two were just awful, including one directly at the keeper with Facundo Torres and Ercan Kara in the process of beating their defenders in the box. That said, his passing rate was good (90%) and he did have the secondary assist on Torres’ goal with the pass to Kara. He had one tackle and one clearance but struggled to keep Cabral quiet or close down Victor Vazquez at times, and he gave up a dangerous set piece, although the yellow card was overkill by the referee. He had no shots or key passes.
MF, Sebas Mendez, 7 — The Ecuadorian got his first start of the season and was active, but there was a little rust showing at times with regard to positioning above his own penalty area. He did his job defensively, finishing with two tackles, an interception, two clearances, and a block. He passed well, as usual, at an 89.2% rate, hitting on one of his two long balls but was unsuccessful on his lone cross. He and Araujo helped funnel most of the LA attack to the wings and it was a good match overall for Mendez.
MF, Cesar Araujo, 7.5 — The kid in the central midfield just keeps on delivering. Araujo was active on defense against a good group of attackers, with a team-high three tackles to go with two interceptions and a clearance. His passing rate of 93.9% led all Lions who had at least five attempts and he was on the ball more than any Orlando player except Moutinho. Six of his seven long balls were accurate and he had one key pass. He had an opportunity to score his first MLS goal on the counter but the shot was deflected away at the last second. Araujo received his third yellow card in four matches, taking one for the team. His tactical foul to break up a late LA rush can largely be blamed on substitute Benji Michel trying to take on Julian Araujo one-on-one, and losing that battle, rather than taking the ball to the corner to run some clock. This score could have been higher but there were a couple of times he was a tad late closing down that could have prevented some entry balls.
MF, Facundo Torres, 7.5 — The Young Designated Player is just starting to settle in and get comfortable and now he’ll leave for the international window. Torres opened his account with a no-doubt-about-it headed finish after putting himself into the perfect space for Kara’s cross. He had two of Orlando’s six shots and one of the club’s two shots on target. Torres passed at an 81.3% clip, and was accurate on one of his two crosses and two of his five long balls. He contributed a tackle, two interceptions, and a clearance on defense. He also won an aerial. His three unstable touches were a slight blemish on an otherwise great outing.
MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 6 — It was another mixed game for the captain. Although he did some things well, there is just a bit of inconsistency marring his game right now. He continues to have at least one dangerous giveaway in his own end that is seemingly preventable. His passing rate of 76.5% isn’t good enough, and he went just 1-of-5 on long balls. He was dispossessed once and had three bad touches. And his set piece delivery was once again not precise enough. However, there were good things too. He created two scoring chances (a shared team high), was 1/2 on crosses and 1/2 on through balls, won a tackle, and drew two fouls on the opposition.
MF, Junior Urso, 6.5 — The Bear continues to do the selfless things on the field to help the team, even if sometimes those aren’t rewarded, such as when he unlocked the LA defense with a beautiful through ball for Ruan, only to see his fellow Brazilian waste the chance with a poor cross. Playing as a false wing, Urso helped divert the LA attack to the wider areas but was his usual pesky self, winning three fouls. He chipped in two tackles and two interceptions. His 81.5% passing rate was good considering he was playing a little further up the pitch, and he created two scoring chances and was a perfect 4/4 on long ball accuracy. I knocked a tiny bit off his grade for not getting a shot attempt (considering his position) and for being dispossessed three times, but it was yet another solid match for Urso.
F, Ercan Kara, 7 — Despite being isolated much of the match due to the huge disadvantage Orlando had in possession, it was a quality game from the Turkish-Austrian Designated Player. His first MLS assist set up the game-winning goal with an inch-perfect cross to Torres. He won three aerials, created a scoring chance, had one of Orlando’s six shot attempts, and won two fouls. His 66.7% passing rate seems low but it was a small sample size with only nine attempts. He helped out defensively with a pair of clearances and did well to press LA’s central midfielders into playing up the wings.
D, Kyle Smith (68’), 6 — El Soldado (or “The Accountant,” if you prefer) came on for Ruan and even though he was tasked with being solid defensively, he still managed to get one of Orlando’s two shots on target, although it was right at the goalkeeper. His passing rate of 71.4% wasn’t much to write home about but he did complete one of his three long balls. He provided one tackle and a clearance and the Lions’ right side seemed a bit calmer defensively after he came on.
F, Benji Michel (68’), 5.5 — Michel came on to spell Kara, providing fresh legs for a potential late counter opportunity at an insurance goal. Despite being on the pitch for only 22 minutes and five more of injury time, he still had three poor touches, including the one that allowed LA to counter and created the need for Araujo to take a tactical foul to slow down the attack. He completed seven of his nine passes, won an aerial and had a defensive zone clearance. He didn’t manage a shot or a key pass.
D, Rodrigo Schlegel (79’), N/A — The Argentinian defender came on for Pereyra to get an extra defender on the field and he basically ate up space and kept the middle of Orlando’s defensive third congested, but there’s not much to grade him on. He had only one touch of the ball, registered no defensive stats and was unsuccessful on his lone pass attempt. The change of shape did allow Orlando to prevent any late danger from the Galaxy, though.
F/MF, Tesho Akindele (84’), N/A — The Canadian wasn’t on the field long enough in relief of Torres to fairly evaluate, but he did his job over the final six minutes of normal time and five minutes of stoppage time. He managed seven touches and completed all four of his pass attempts to help the Lions eat up the remaining time.
That’s how I saw the performances in an important Orlando City road victory. Let me know where you think I got it right or wrong in the comments section and vote for your Man of the Match in the poll below.
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