Orlando City returned home to the Orlando Citrus Bowl on Saturday night, but couldn't give the home crowd anything to celebrate, as the short-handed Lions fell to an equally short-handed FC Dallas squad, 2-0, in front of 30,513 purple clad fans.
"Long 90 minutes," said Adrian Heath in his post-game press conference. "We started slowly, looked lethargic, lacking in energy and probably got what we deserved, which was nothing"
The loss ended Orlando City's seven-game unbeaten run at home across all competitions, as the Lions (6-7-6, 24 points) also suffered just the second loss in their last nine Major League Soccer matches.
Goals from Mauro Diaz and David Texeira gave Dallas their second win in as many league matches, and kept them unbeaten in three straight in MLS play.
Orlando City started the game off very slowly, letting Dallas put on most of the pressure in the early going, and the Lions struggled to break into the opposing penalty area -- their first touch inside the box didn't come until 29 minutes into the game.
The Lions thought they had a good opportunity in the 16th minute when a through-ball over the middle found Carlos Rivas, but he was called offside as he bounced a shot off of the post. Rivas had wandered off but appeared to have established himself back onside well before the pass.
Having a suspended Kaká out of the lineup, Heath stuck with his 4-2-3-1, but moved Pedro Ribeiro down into Kaká's spot in the middle and pushed Rivas up top to play the forward position. Without his speed on the wing -- or any speed, really -- the game plan seemed to be just firing long-balls from the back to Rivas, who wasn't able to get onto any of them -- and when he did, he would immediately be called offside.
With Dallas (9-5-5 32 points) having racked up five corners in the first 21 minutes, Orlando City's first didn't come until the 30th minute of play. Moments later, Rivas nearly put the Lions on the board with a wide-angle shot inside the box, set up on a nice hold-up play by Ribeiro.
In the 39th, David Texeira threatened with a hard shot on goal inside the box, but put it right on frame to Tally Hall, who parried it away.
It was a tough moment for Orlando City seconds later, when Sean St. Ledger, who fell and appeared to hurt his shoulder earlier in the match, had to be carried off the field on a stretcher after taking another hard fall onto the turf, landing on his shoulder. He had been able to play through the pain to that point, but this hit was too much for him to handle, as the Lions were forced to sub in Aurelien Collin, who made his return to the bench after suffering an injury against the Montreal Impact a few weeks ago.
Dallas opened the scoring late in the first half in stoppage time when Cristian Higuita and Rafael Ramos combined to take down Fabian Castillo in the box. Mauro Diaz stepped up and blasted the penalty kick past Hall for the goal.
Orlando City thought they had leveled the score in the 57th minute when Rivas slipped a pass to Ribeiro, who finished it for the goal. However, the assistant referee decided Ribeiro was offside -- he wasn't -- and the goal was disallowed.
Less than 10 minutes later, poor communication inside the box from Amobi Okugo and Seb Hines cost Orlando a second goal, as Texeira fired home a shot from the middle of the goal on a pass from Victor Ulloa, making it a 2-0 game.
With a chance to pull one back in the closing minutes, Rivas stepped up to the penalty spot after Dallas goalkeeper Dan Kennedy body-checked Ribeiro on an attempt to grab a loose ball. Rivas skied the penalty attempt 16 rows deep to the left of the goal, because obviously.
"The penalty just about summed the evening up," said Heath.
Already down defender/midfielder Brek Shea for the next couple of weeks, the Lions will be without starting left back Luke Boden next week against the New York Red Bulls after the English defender picked up his second yellow card of the match on a bad foul, forcing the ref to send him off. The first yellow was extremely questionable.
Orlando City will get Kaká back on Wednesday when they host Premier League side West Bromwich Albion at the Citrus Bowl at 7:30 p.m. ET. Following that, they'll return to league play -- without Boden and potentially without St. Ledger -- next Saturday at home against the Red Bulls.