Nothing can change that Orlando City will miss the playoffs this season, but the lads went out on the road and beat a team they've never beaten in MLS play before, and won in a venue they've never scored points before as an MLS side. In the four previous meetings, Orlando City had been 0 - 2 - 2, tying the Union at the Citrus Bowl (Camping World Stadium) and losing both times at Talen Energy Stadium on the banks of the Delaware River.
But today Orlando City played one of the best defensive matches they have shown all season, and they attacked relentlessly. Their finishing form was not what we fans would liked to have seen, but the 2 - 0 victory and three big points were a great change from the run of play we have seen in the past few matches.
- Carlos Rivas - Rivas definitely deserved Man of the Match honors today. He was active in the attack, in defending, and in creating chances for his teammates. He showed real leadership and maturity that belies his youth and gives a hint of the type of player he can become if he is able to cultivate those aspects of his game to their full potential.
- Rafael Ramos - It was so good to see Rafael back on the pitch again. I was glad for him that he has been able to come back from the midseason injury before the end of the year, but I was also happy as a fan to see his speed and skill on display along the defensive back line.
- Defensive Shape - The entire team played great defense today. It was interesting in post-game sideline comments that Jason Kreis said he has told the players that when they fully commit to defending they get good results.
- Clean Sheet - Joe Bendik has been the most consistent player on the roster all season, and he has not been rewarded with as many clean sheets as he should have due to a porous defense. Today he had to make a few saves, but he was not nearly as active as he has had to be in many matches this season since the team only allowed Philadelphia four shots on goal for the day.
- Finishing Chances - If there's a criticism to be made of the team it was in the finishing. The last touch on the day was often off target (in shots or attempted passes) or did not have sufficient power to get past Andre Blake. Of course Carlos Rivas and Julio Baptista provided enough finish to see two goals go in the net to get the 2 - 0 road victory. But if there are nits to pick with the win, then let's have at them.
- Goalpost meet Kidneys - I really can't complain about anything in this match and feel right about doing so. But I will say I thought Andre Blake made a tremendous save late on a crossing pass / shot by Rafael Ramos. I'm not sure if Ramos was planning to go at goal or was trying to send the ball to a teammate, but the ball curled toward the net just beyond the near goalpost, and Blake leaped out to make a great save. Unfortunately for him, his momentum took him right into the goalpost with the small of his back. I was a little surprised he got up as quickly as he did and was able to continue playing.
What about you? What were your thoughts on the match? Did anyone impress you with their level of play today, or did it frustrate you that the team has seemed to wait so long in the season to play such a complete defensive match? Let me know in the comments below!