Major League Soccer is a lot like other leagues around the world when it comes to difficulty winning on the road. There's air travel, staying in hotels, eating unfamiliar food and none of that even takes into account playing the match on an unfamiliar surface in front of a hostile crowd.
Yet Orlando City is taking to road life in MLS as if it's no big deal. The Lions, who have scored only one goal in three home games, have five road goals in three matches away from the Citrus Bowl. With last night's 2-0 win at Portland, City has four goals in its last two road matches, which is a veritable power surge for a team that has struggled to make the most of its chances.
Are the Lions simply pressing at home, wanting to put on a good show for the huge Citrus Bowl crowds? Possibly. The longer Orlando goes without a run-of-play goal at home, the more and more they seem to freeze up in the final moment of attack, fizzing shots wide or straight at the goalkeeper.
The lads in purple seem more composed and relaxed on the road and it is showing up on the scoreboard. Two goals in any of the three home games would have been enough for victory. Instead, the Lions will have one more away game before coming home to a place that should be a fortress, and might be, if Orlando had more than one goal in three outings.
The wait for the first home win goes on, but it's nice to see the team can find the net and earn valuable points away from Central Florida.
Penalties and Yellow/Red Card Decisions
Aurelien Collin was probably fortunate to avoid a yellow card early in the match, and some folks wondered why Portland wasn't issued a red card for denying a clear goal scoring chance to Kevin Molino on what would have been a breakaway from midfield.
Still others, perhaps Timbers fans, want some answers on why Kaká was given a second opportunity on his second-half penalty. Well, here are your answers from referee Kevin Stott.
As to the last point, Stott said:
Kaká was permitted to retake the penalty because of encroachment into the penalty area by Chara before the kick was taken and after the whistle was blown.
Heath Pleased with Road Win
Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath was glad to see his squad get rewarded for its efforts, after recent such games have gone wanting for points.
"Overall, I'm a firm believer of 'you get out what you put in,' and these guys have put so much in during the past few weeks with not a lot of reward," Heath said after the match. "Today, I thought the guys got a bit of payback for maybe D.C. or Vancouver."
The three points were especially sweet because Portland's Providence Park is considered a bit of a fortress where the road team struggles to get results in front of their big, raucous home crowds.
"This is a terrific place to come and play football," Heath said. "These are the environments that you want to come and play in, and I'm just so pleased for our players that they've come and quieted them just a bit."
Defender Luke Boden didn't make the trip to Portland due to the birth of his son. With the left back out, Tyler Turner made the 18-man roster, though he didn't see the field. Fullbacks Brek Shea and Rafael Ramos played well and went the distance.