Orlando City won 1-0 against the Chicago Fire, with Ercan Kara scoring his first goal for the Lions. Brian Gutierrez received two yellow cards in the first half and the Fire had to play the entire second half with just 10 men. Orlando had multiple opportunities to score, but ended up putting just one in the back of the net and it was enough for all three points against an Eastern Conference foe.
Here’s how I saw the individual performances of each Lion on the pitch.
GK, Pedro Gallese, 6 — It was a quiet day for Gallese as the Fire only put two shots on target and played with 10 men for the entire second half. He saved both shots, the tougher of the two being a low effort from Gutierrez that Gallese did well to parry out for a corner. He only had 15 passes in the match, completing 93% of them, and his only attempted long ball was inaccurate. It was his fourth clean sheet of the season and he now leads the league alongside Fire goalkeeper Gabriel Slonina.
D, Joao Moutinho, 6.5 — Moutinho’s strong start to the season continued in this match as he led the team with six tackles to snuff out Chicago’s chances on his side of the field. The left back was accurate on just one of his five crosses but completed both of his long balls as he contended with a stingy Chicago defense that was comfortable pinning numbers back to defend. Moutinho was accurate on 90% of his 59 passes and recorded a key pass as well. His only shot of the game was a great attempt from distance that went just over the bar. He’s still hunting for his first assist of the season, but it was another good performance on both sides of the ball from the 24-year-old defender.
D, Rodrigo Schlegel, 6 — Starting in place of the injured Antonio Carlos, Schlegel did well with two tackles, two clearances, and two interceptions. The Argentine center back also had a terrific day in terms of passing, as he was successful on 93% of his 60 passes and was accurate on all three of his attempted long balls. Schlegel had one shot in the match, sending a header wide of goal after a nice pass from Pato. While it’s worth noting Chicago’s offense lacked Xherdan Shaqiri and played half the game with 10 men, Schlegel played his part to keep Kacper Przybylko and the Fire quiet. With stronger offenses on the horizon, this was a nice game for Schlegel to settle in as a starter and help the team get a clean sheet.
D, Robin Jansson, 6 — The Beefy Swede led the Lions with four clearances and also did well to block a shot early in the match. Jansson came up big when Orlando needed him to, but that wasn’t all too often, considering how the game played out. He didn’t have a shot or a key pass and didn’t make much of an impact on Orlando’s set pieces, but he was an anchor along Orlando’s back line. Jansson had 55 passes at a decent 85% success rate and was inaccurate on his one attempted long ball. He picked up a yellow card in the second half, but it was a solid outing overall for the center back.
D, Ruan, 6 — His speed was useful against Chicago’s defensive pressure, allowing teammates to safely send the ball into space for him to chase down. Ruan completed just one of his four crosses, but he was accurate on all but one of his 31 passes for a great 97% success rate as he worked well with Pato. The right back finished the game with a key pass and a shot that was on target but easily saved by Slonina. He added a tackle on the defensive side of things and was subbed off in the 74th minute.
MF, Cesar Araujo, 6 — The 21-year-old started his seventh game of the season and continued to give Orlando some stability in its midfield. He completed 25 of his 27 passes for a strong 93% success rate and helped out on defense with a tackle. Offensively, he had a key pass and his lone shot was on target, although it didn’t cause any trouble at all for Slonina. He won four fouls, including the one that earned Gutierrez his second yellow card, and was swapped for Junior Urso at halftime to give Orlando some more firepower.
MF, Sebas Mendez, 6.5 — In his second start of the season, Mendez gave the kind of performance we’ve grown to expect from him since joining Orlando. The Ecuadorian led the Lions with 114 touches and completed 100 of his 105 passes for a great 95% success rate. Defensively, he added a tackle, an interception, a clearance, and two blocked shots. He didn’t take a shot, but did make two key passes to help on offense and was accurate on three of his four long balls. With Carlos injured, we may see more games like this from Mendez to add some bite defensively while facilitating the team’s passing.
MF, Facundo Torres, 6.5 — Torres won a foul in the attacking half and then whipped in a cross from the resulting free kick that found Pato open near the back post for him to set up Kara for the game’s only goal. He also set up a shot for Pato that was saved and contributed two shots of his own — one off target and the other blocked. Torres was accurate on one of his two crosses and two of his three long balls and had 35 passes at an 83% success rate. He also chipped in defensively with three tackles. Chicago’s defense was smothering at times though, as he had three unstable touches and was successful on just one of his five attempted dribbles before being substituted out in the 74th minute.
MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 7 — Orlando City’s captain did well pulling the strings on offense, leading the team with six key passes, with five of those coming in the first half while the Fire still had all 11 men. He’s becoming more and more familiar with the new offensive weapons at his disposal, particularly Kara, as he found the striker in dangerous areas. Chicago’s pressure put him under stress at times, but he completed an impressive 88% of his 80 passes. He was accurate on two of his three crosses and all three of his long balls found their targets as well. Pereyra also showed plenty of hustle on defense, making three tackles. The Designated Player didn’t have an assist, but continues to prove why he’s crucial to Orlando’s offense.
F, Alexandre Pato, 7.5 (MotM) — Pato recorded his second assist of the season with a patient and pinpoint header near the end line that found Kara wide open in front of goal. The Brazilian led the Lions with eight shots and nearly doubled Orlando’s lead in the 88th minute but his shot right in front of goal hit the crossbar. Two of his shots were on target, including a powerful strike from outside the box that Slonina saved but the rebound fell to Kara, who missed the open header. Five of his other shots were sent off target and another was blocked. He made four key passes, was accurate on two of his five crosses, and connected on two of his three long balls as he created chances for Orlando from start to finish. He could’ve taken better care of the ball at times as he was successful on two of five dribbles, had three unstable touches, and completed just 73% of his 37 passes. Regardless, Pato fueled Orlando’s offense. He is our Man of the Match for setting up the game’s only goal and creating a majority of Orlando’s chances to widen its lead.
F, Ercan Kara , 7 — The Austrian striker made his first goal for Orlando look easy with an open header directly in front of goal. It was also the first goal Orlando’s scored from a set piece this season as Kara made himself an easy target for Pato to find in the box following a free kick. He’s certainly fulfilling his role as Orlando’s target man in the box and nearly had a second goal with another open header but missed the open net. Kara had five shots in the match, putting two of them on target. The 26-year-old was accurate on 75% of his 12 passes and did well making runs for Pato, Pereyra, and Torres to find him in dangerous positions. It was a strong showing from Kara as he continues to find his footing in MLS.
MF, Júnior Urso (45’), 6 — The Bear came on at halftime for Araujo as Orlando shifted gears to score once Chicago was a man down. Although he didn’t have a shot or a key pass, his presence was felt on offense as he helped Orlando quickly build possession and find Lions in open space. It wasn’t a statistically dominant game from Urso but he saw quite a bit of the ball with 36 touches and 31 passes at a 90% success rate. After starting the first five games of the season, Urso received some rest in the first half and didn’t have to pick himself up from hard fouls in the second.
F, Tesho Akindele (74’), 6 — The Canadian striker came on in the second half and his best moment of the match was a nice pass from the right wing that gave Pato a chance to score in the box. His only shot was close but his header went wide of goal. He completed five of his six passes for an 83% success rate and his lone long ball found its mark. Although he didn’t record his first goal or assist of this season, his performance was enough to help Orlando see the game out.
F, Benji Michel (74’), 5 — He did well crashing the box for a header that he couldn’t get on target for his only shot of the game. It was otherwise a quiet appearance from Michel, although he was successful on two of his three dribbles. Although his speed didn’t help grow Orlando’s lead, it helped him apply pressure to the Fire when they were on the ball. The Homegrown Player completed both of his passes in the match and had eight touches.
D, Kyle Smith (74’), 5 — Coming on for Ruan, Smith didn’t have any crosses but was accurate on both of his long balls. He made a tackle and took care of the ball, completing all eight of his passes. Smith had 11 touches in another short appearance for Orlando this season as he helped see the Lions to a clean sheet.
MF, Andres Perea (85’), N/A — There wasn’t enough from Perea for us to grade him as he came on late in the match and helped secure the victory. Perea completed five of his six passes for an 83% success rate and had six touches in his cameo.
That’s how I saw the performances in Orlando City’s win at home against the previously undefeated Chicago Fire. The score doesn’t reflect a game Orlando controlled from start to finish, but the Lions couldn’t put away many of their chances.
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