OK, so the bad news is that Orlando City isn't going to go undefeated in 2015. The good news is that it can be argued that the team has outplayed its first three opponents and, should it find its footing in the final third, could become one of the Eastern Conference's better teams.
The Lions largely outplayed the Vancouver Whitecaps for the 90-odd minutes tonight but that means exactly nothing when you leave the stadium with zero points in your pocket. The biggest problem seems to be finishing, which is a growing concern, as shot after shot sails high or wide.
Quite simply, the Lions need to start getting shots on target and making the goalkeeper work.
Let's get to this evening's grades.
G, Donovan Ricketts, 7.5 -- There was nothing he could do about the goal. He made a vital stop on an Octavio Rivero breakaway and made two saves on the night. Aside from that he was positionally sound and only loses minor points for a nervy punch and a heavy touch that forced him to scramble to clear a first-half ball.
D, Brek Shea, 6.5 -- The work in progress continues. Shea was more active getting forward and tracked back well but his crosses were well off the mark and some of his passing forced his teammates into tough spots. Overall a solid but unspectacular performance.
D, Seb Hines, 6 -- Another mostly solid performance in that you didn't notice him much, which is good for a center back, but he did get into trouble early and nearly took a penalty and red card in the game's opening minutes when he was caught flat footed.
D, Aurelien Collin, 8 -- A nice performance by the Frenchman in his return from a red card ban. Collin made several important interceptions, challenged Vancouver's forwards and won a lot of aerial balls. If he plays like this every week, Orlando City will be happy with their investment in the physical center back.
D, Rafael Ramos, 7 -- Ramos got caught forward a few times and some of his final third passing wasn't what it needed to be, but he recovered well and largely kept Kekuta Manneh quiet. It wasn't as good as his Houston performance but it was still pretty good.
M, Darwin Ceren, 7 -- Ceren did a very nice job taking away the ball and turning himself away from traffic to start the attack. What he didn't do well was control his passing. His touch let him down on a number of midfield passes. He also committed the foul late that led to the set piece goal.
M, Amobi Okugo, 8 -- A really solid night all around was ruined when Rivero got enough space on the final free kick to head home the winner. He controlled the middle of the field all night, made important interceptions and challenges and his passing was usually spot on.
M, Eric Avila, 5 -- A pretty average night for Avila, although he put himself in good positions often. His teammates usually failed to find him and when he did have the ball at his feet, his shots sailed high.
M, Kaká, 7.5 -- The Brazilian did a lot of great things once again and came close to scoring on a team-high four shots, but he couldn't get one on frame. His link-up play was very good but the captain had trouble threading passes into dangerous areas in the final third.
M, Kevin Molino, 5 -- This was Molino's worst game so far and he just seemed off all night. He gave the ball away with poor passes, passed when he should have shot and twice took an extra touch in the box instead of getting a cross or shot away. He was going to ground easily and allowing himself to be muscled off the ball too often. He'll have better days ahead.
F, Pedro Ribeiro, 6.5 -- His curling left-footer from about 25-30 yards out could have been a goal of the week candidate, but it just missed and found the roof of the net. Ribeiro had three shots, including a close call on a header, and got into some good areas but he was weak with his back to goal at times and he suffered from the same final third passing malaise that several others did.
F, Cyle Larin, 6 -- He didn't have much time to make an impact (just over 20 minutes), but the Canadian international got into good spots and showed why he has a bright future. Unfortunately, he either didn't see a streaking Avila in the 90th minute or decided to spin and take a shot himself anyway. That's ok if you score or at least work the keeper but he missed just wide. He also came close to an empty netter but a heavy touch allowed David Ousted to get just enough touch on the ball to thwart the chance. A bright start that he can build on.