Orlando City may be struggling to score goals, but the Lions have created plenty of scoring chances in the past two matches. The team finished with 17 shots last night, proving that they are getting more comfortable in this league and they are ready to break through. The only thing missing now is the final touch.
"I think there's an awful lot of positives out of the evening," Head Coach Adrian Heath said after last night's match. "It doesn't seem like that at this moment in time, but I'm sure when we watch the tape back we'll be delighted with a lot of the things that we've been working on over the last few weeks."
Heath and his staff are right to be optimistic. The team does not look like one that is brand new to the league. Several young guns from all over the pitch have put on performances that show they are primed for the challenge ahead.
"The important thing for us as a group is that we try and maintain the confidence in the team," said Heath. "We have to maintain that we've played a lot of good football tonight and we can actually take a lot of positives from that and we have to, because that's the only thing at this moment that we can take from it."
Brek Shea's 31st minute early cross was a sign of impeccable intuition. Shea saw a 3v3 situation in which D.C. United defenders were unprepared. He quickly put the ball in the right area and had it not been for the woodwork, we would be celebrating Kevin Molino's first MLS goal.
"I think we should have done more with our chances," said Shea after the match. "Everybody played really well. We did everything the coach asked us except win and score goals."
If Rafael Ramos had opted to find Cyle Larin rather than shoot in the 33rd minute, the Lions could have had the goal they deserved from a brilliant first half. What's more? The three players involved (Molino, Ramos, and Larin) are all young, first-year MLS players.
Had Molino seen Larin beside him in the 41st minute, we might be rejoicing over Kaká's game-changing vision and start his MVP campaign early.
"We played very good and created a lot of chances," said an emotionally drained Kaká, post-match. "Next time we have to close the game."
These may sound like soccer clichés that you've heard too many times, but the truth is that they do apply to Orlando's situation. Molino played incredibly last night, particularly in the first half, and deserved to have a goal or assist. He finished with a game high four key passes (passes that lead to a shot or goal) and his movement was much better in the final third.
Carlos Rivas was a weapon from the moment he stepped on, with two near misses in the short 20 minutes he was on the pitch, including Bill Hamid's diving save on a free kick. Shea and Ramos showcased both attacking talent and stamina after both playing for their countries in the week. And of course, the main man Kaká was as brilliant as ever.
There are a lot of positive signs that the offense is starting to come together. It isn't there yet, but if the Lions are creating goal-scoring chances, the goals will start to come.