The dream is still alive for Orlando City
After a game where the Lions controlled the first half, let in a goal right before halftime, came back to even the game, took the lead in bizarre fashion, lost Tally Hall to injury and managed to pull out the win to stay in the playoff hunt, there is a lot to digest, to say the least. Here are our five takeaways from a wild one at the Citrus Bowl.
Cyle Larin is a Baaaaaad Man
Man, the kid from Canada sure can score, can't he? After going the entire first half without finding the net (not for the lack of trying, mind you), the super rookie tied up the match off a Corey Ashe cross and scored the eventual game winner, eight minutes later. His brace tonight gave him 17 goals on the year, tied for third in the entire league. Larin is five goals behind the leaders Sebastian Giovinco and Kei Kamara, but Larin has only played 26 games and Giovinco and Kamara have played 31. Larin is tied with David Villa and Robbie Keane, which is a pretty big statement for the rookie.
First Half Chances Missed Almost Cost Orlando
Last night's first half was mainly filled with Orlando possession, and with that came a multitude of chances. The Lions managed to get eight chances on goal in before NYCFC could get their first in the 41st minute. If the game had gone differently and Larin wouldn't have put those two goals away, you would be sure that the team would be lamenting those opportunities early on.
No Brek, No Kaká, No Problem!
I mean, when you're missing two of your star players, things are going to be a lot tougher. But Orlando put their best possible lineup out there and did what they could to control a team with David Villa, Mix Diskerud and Frank Lampard. Now, to their credit, the Lions' back line and defensive midfielders did an excellent job containing the "big three" of NYCFC. That was never really the issue. There were chances throughout the game that Orlando had that were broken up because of missed passes going forward. Putting in Kaká there instead of Lewis Neal would probably have given the Lions better passing play. However, Orlando pulled out the crucial win without both him and Brek Shea, and now will have them back against Philadelphia.
Soccer is a Fickle Mistress
This goes back to the chances Orlando didn't capitalize on. It only takes one chance or one call to change the entirety of the game. On the brink of halftime, NYCFC capitalized on both their one chance and the one call. In the 45th minute, the ball seemingly going out of play off an NYCFC player that was saved by Tommy McNamara. At first glance, the ball was clearly out of bounds, but the line judge on the opposite side said it was still in. This eventually turned into NYCFC's first goal from Kwame Watson-Siriboe
Then, in the 74th minute, Cyle Larin appeared to have a goal when the ball looked to have gone over the line. It was sat on by NYCFC's Jefferson Mena and did not cross the line. However, the same line judge from the call in the first half again did not call the goal. Here's the image, you be the judge.
Five straight for the Lions means that they are indeed still in the hunt for the sixth playoff spot. It all comes down to New England to stop the Montreal Impact from winning. If Montreal draw or lose, then Orlando's still alive. That game goes down tonight at 7:30 p.m. There is also another scenario that can see Orlando sneak in but it would take a huge swing in goal differential and several dominoes to fall, so it's not really worth mentioning.
Heck of a way to close out the home season for Orlando.