Last month, we looked at five big surprises for Orlando City in the early stretch of the season, noting how well players like Brek Shea and Aurélien Collin had acclimated themselves to the City Beautiful. Ahead of our third MLS match opposite D.C. United, we take an opportunity to look at some of the biggest disappointments we've seen from our beloved Lions to this point.
Or, if corporate speak is more your speed, we're looking at some of the biggest "challenges and opportunities for growth." Oh, adulthood.
When announced, the deal to bring Pato over to Orlando from Huddersfield Town was met with near universal praise. An experienced man up top with proven quality against solid English competition, Paterson was expected to stabilize the top of the attack while some of the young lads grew into their roles and lifestyles as professional athletes in the United States.
Fast forward to June, and Martin Paterson sightings are about as rare as the use of logic in the United States government.
We've seen 37 minutes out of Paterson in just three appearances. Health has been an issue, as a leg seemingly held together by strings and Scotch Tape (see: hamstring, MCL) has kept the 28-year-old from showing the team what sort of impact he can have over 90 minutes.
We've seen him complete 10 passes, be dispossessed once, and, well, that's about it.
With Huddersfield showing no intentions to re-sign, our own Gavin Ewbank has hit the nail on the head. Orlando City has a decision to make.
What's that, another striker with a rough start to the season? Why, you'd think Orlando City had trouble scoring goals for much of the year.
Rochez came to the club as an excited young Designated Player, but complications with relocation and fitness alike have left us with little game action from the young Honduran.
I see Rochez on a billboard on my way to work every morning. I don't see it long, just as I drive by at a totally reasonable, law-abiding speed.
I have seen Rochez on that billboard more than I have seen him on the pitch. Now, contrary to popular belief, I am no soccer expert. I leave that designation to the Michael Citros and Andrew Marcinkos of the Mane Land.
With just 80 minutes in six substitute appearances, however, this is where we stand. With an average game rating of 6.06 (per WhoScored.com), he hasn't exactly lit the world on fire.
Here's to Rochez getting comfortable and healthy, we're all looking forward to the impact he's capable of making.
I know what you're thinking, but I swear, I'm not trying to pick on the young Designated Players.
I like what Rivas brings to the team. I think that when he has subbed on, he has often changed the tempo of the attack with his dynamic pace and high-level energy. The fact remains, however, that the club could use better output from the speedy 21-year-old.
With three starts in 11 appearances, Rivas has amassed 326 minutes on the pitch but has shockingly little to show for it. While averaging over two shots per game, he has yet to find the back of the net, seen often taking off-balance shots from very difficult angles you wouldn't even try in a video game, much less reality.
Shooting has not been the only problem for Carlos, as he's also proven to be one of the least efficient passers on the club, flaunting a 72.6% passing success rate, managing to top just Paterson, No. 1 pick Cyle Larin, and Pedro Ribeiro.
With all the physical tools you could ask for, we all wait for Rivas to put it together on the pitch and deliver the quality we hope he is capable of.
Sure, some will blame some of the less-than-world-class officiating we have seen from Major League Soccer refs in the early stretches of the season, but this fact holds true – nobody but the lowly Colorado Rapids averages more fouls per game than Orlando City.
Some have been questionable, like the simulation calls in the opener, or the red card Brek Shea received from an alternate universe (it had to be an alternate universe, that foul does not exist in this dimension), but some have been quite blatant. I'm looking at you, Rafael Ramos.
Between Collin, Shea, Cristian Higuita and Darwin Ceren, Orlando City has four regularly appearing players averaging at least two fouls per game.
"Oh, that's not so bad," you're thinking. Then you realize there are only 14 players league-wide averaging that.
Lack of Game Changing Passing
Orlando boasts a ridiculous 85% passing completion rate, leading the league in efficiently kicking the ball back and forth. Which is great, there's no reason to complain there.
The issue lies in what those passes are doing. If the Killer Bees (Brek and Boden) want to hang out and send "A" balls (FIFA video game terminology, anyone?) back and forth for 90 minutes, well, we aren't really getting much done offensively. Therein lies the problem.
As one of the most efficient passing teams, you would hope to see more of these passes leading to chances. Kaká leads the team with 1.9 key passes per game, good for 20th in the league. Second? Rafael Ramos, averaging a clean 1.0, good for 66th in the league.
Possession is good, but possession with a purpose? That's what we need to see moving forward.
With D.C. United having stopped us from taking three points twice already this year, which improvements do you think are necessary to overcome our Eastern Conference foes?