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Orlando City vs. D.C. United: Five Takeaways

What did we learn about Orlando City in their 1-0 win over DC United on Sunday night? Here are our five takeaways.

Nick Leyva, The Mane Land

The third time was the charm for Orlando City on Sunday night, as the Lions finally picked up a win over Eastern Conference foes, D.C. United, with a 1-0 win in front of 30,054 at the Orlando Citrus Bowl.

Kaká's headed-in goal off of a penalty kick was the difference-maker for Orlando City, who with the win vaulted past Toronto FC into third place in the East.

Our five takeaways from Sunday's matchup:

When is Cyle Larin coming home?

While Larin is away playing for his national team in World Cup qualifiers, Adrian Heath went with Pedro Ribeiro up top for the second week in a row and, just like through the first 70 minutes against the Chicago Fire, it was clear what Larin's absence meant for the team.

Ribeiro is a dangerous player, and is capable of making plays on the ball, but his lack of speed leaves much to be desired up top. Unlike Larin and even Carlos Rivas, Ribeiro just isn't capable of getting to the services into the box. Almost every time, he's beaten by a defender to the ball, killing whatever opportunity Orlando had been building up.

Don't be surprised to see Larin retake his starting role against the Montreal Impact next weekend when he returns.

Not one of Kaká's best games

Sunday's game against DC might just go down as one of his poorest performances of the season when all is said and done. The former World Player of the Year played sloppy all night in the midfield, giving the ball away on numerous occasions, and a couple of times creating counter-attack opportunities for DC.

He had another penalty kick saved by Bill Hamid -- he's gone left on every one of his PK attempts this season, if you haven't noticed -- but was lucky enough to have the rebound sit right in front of him.

We also saw a rare side of Kaká, taking a few difficult shots from outside of the box -- doing his best Carlos Rivas impression, perhaps? Either way, not a great night for the captain.

Lewis Neal is actually a pretty good defensive midfielder

After starting on the left wing against Chicago last week, Neal made a surprise start in the defensive midfield against DC in place of Darwin Ceren, who is on international leave with El Salvador. Neal, who just recently returned to the lineup after missing almost two months with an injury, played extremely well in his 80 minutes in the first Sunday. He was very involved in the early going alongside Cristian Higuita, and continued to as the game wore on.

Neal's a guy that can handle the ball well and control possession, and he showed that by hitting a high percentage of his passes.

Who knows if we'll see him in this role again on Wednesday when Orlando City travels to take on the Charleston Battery in the U.S. Open Cup, but at least we know we can count on him if he gets the call.

Hold up, I need a break

For those of us in attendance on Sunday night, we were lucky enough to witness the first water break in MLS history. Shortly after Kaká's goal in the 30th minute, the referee whistled for the stoppage in play so each team could catch their breath and take a moment to cool down with the sweltering temperatures in Orlando.

The Mane Land was unable to confirm whether or not orange slices were handed out to the players, or if Bobby Boucher Jr. himself was there to assist in the handing out of water.

The heat was supposed to be our thing, MLS! If 30,000+ raging for 90 minutes wasn't going to be enough to slow down opposing teams, at least we had the heat to back us up in breaking down players physically throughout the match. Who do we have on our side now?


Ever since Kevin Molino went down with his season-ending knee injury, we've seen Heath move Brek Shea up to the left wing and slot Luke Boden in at left back, creating the dangerous attacking duo on the left that fans had been waiting to see since the preseason. Shea returned to the lineup on Sunday to team up with Boden once again after his stint with the U.S. Men's National Team.

The two continued to show good chemistry with each other, both setting the other up with good chances down the left side. Heath admitted after the game to tucking in Shea and Eric Avila more to open up the space down the wings for his fullbacks to run, which gave Boden plenty of room to connect with Shea.

Simply put: these guys play well together.