Three Stars: Chicago Fire (Pt. 2)
Orlando City is starting to figure it out. A 1-0 victory against the previously unbeaten Chicago Fire turned heads around the league as the Lions put on their best offensive performance of the year, even if they left they're finishing boots on the bus. The win puts Orlando in second place in the Eastern Conference and firmly in early control for a home playoff game.
Who starred for Orlando City in the impressive victory of the Fire?
3. Sebas Mendez
Ercan Kara scored the goal and had his best game yet, but I'm giving a shoutout to Ecuadorian midfielder Sebas Mendez. Playing alongside Cesar Araujo, Mendez was an anchor for the Lions, especially in possesion, where he completed over 100 passes, including two key passes. The Ecuadorian was also strong defensively, providing a shield on the rare occasions Chicago pushed forward.
2. Mauricio Pereyra
Spoiler alert: the top two are the same as last week. Once Pereyra found his bearings this season, the Uruguayan's been on an absolute tear. He finished this game with a season-high six key passes and 0.8 expected assists.
As Pereyra's form improves, Orlando's overall offensive performances are improving. The last two games have been the best offensive displays all year for the Lions, and Pereyra's improved creativity plays a huge part in that. With the former Krasnador playmaker pulling the strings, Orlando is always a threat going forward.
1. Alexandre Pato
It's getting a little ridiculous how good Alexandre Pato is right now. Against the Fire, Pato put in yet another Man of the Match display, providing the game-winning assist to Ercan Kara via a well-placed header, and constantly creating chances for both himself and his teammates.
The former AC Milan star finished with eight shots and four key passes, with 1.64 combined expected goals and expected assists. Who knows how long Pato can continue to produce at this level, but right now he's an MVP-level difference maker for Orlando City and I'm only barely hyperbolizing.