In a game that was so thrilling, Adrian Healey and Taylor Twellman at one point trailed off into a conversation about Twellman's plush suite at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and afternoon temperatures in Chattanooga Tennessee, the Seattle Sounders toyed with and dismantled 10-man Orlando City 4-0 Sunday. The Lions continue to tumble down the Eastern Conference standings and have shown no signs of a post-transfer window resurgence.
Let's get to the takeaways.
Tally Hall is Still Terrific
At this point in the year, we're stretching for positives, but let's start with this one. Tally Hall continues to impress and bail this team out of awful situations. Sure, four goals were scored, but the Sounders probably could have outdone the USWNT's 8-0 slaughtering of Costa Rica on Sunday had Hall been just an average goalkeeper. Hall first punched away a dangerous early threat, and then saved both an Obafemi Martins' penalty and an Andy Rose rebound in the 30th minute to keep Orlando City within striking distance.
Martins did make Hall look pretty average with his second goal in which he chipped the Orlando City keeper and finished on an empty net. But Martins made quite a few people look pretty bad Sunday.
Different Formation, Same Bad Defense
Orlando City came out in a surprising 4-3-2-1 formation against the Sounders with Darwin Ceren, Servando Carrasco and Cristian Higuita in the midfield. Perhaps Adrian Heath chose this formation because the three have impressed for most of the season as defensive midfielders and he didn't want to sit players who have performed well. Or maybe he wanted wanted to play more defensively against a good team and try to salvage a point, given the team's recent defensive struggles.
Either way, it didn't work. None of the three midfielders had a good day. Each of them struggled to keep up with Seattle's attack and failed to get anything going forward offensively. A team that is usually very good at possessing the ball, Orlando City's midfield could barely get a pass completed to a teammate.
Ceren also received a yellow card that will cause him to be suspended for Orlando City's next match.
Of Course, Luck Played a Part
Orlando City's play of late hasn't done the team any favors. But this team has been unlucky all season. They have had plenty of injuries and some unfortunate red cards. And of course, to add to the unluckiness, Seattle had two of its biggest transfer additions, Nelson Valdez and Ramon Torres, make their debuts Sunday. Even more unlucky, Obafemi Martins returned from an injury that cost him two months of the season. This was a much better squad than the one coming in having lost eight of its last nine matches.
Martins took no prisoners. He picked apart the Orlando City defense like a surgeon--scoring twice and adding an assist. One of Martins' two goals will likely be up for goal of the week. Valdez also scored on a fantastic header in his debut, coming from a perfectly executed short corner.
Orlando City also was a bit unlucky on Martins' second goal as a sliding clearance attempt from David Mateos bounced right to Martins for a clear lane to the net. But when you spend the entire game in the defensive third you can expect to have a few unlucky bounces.
Turner Not Ready for This Stage
Tyler Turner came into the game under a lot of pressure. The results showed he clearly is not ready for the big moment. He struggled mightily dealing with Oniel Fisher and Erik Friberg on the outside, while simultaneously failing to provide help to Aurelien Collin dealing with Martins.
Turner conceded four fouls and earned two yellow cards, resulting in a red card in the 40th minute of the match. He is only 19, so it's hard to fault the kid for much more than just not being ready for a game of this magnitude. It makes you wonder if something is wrong with Corey Ashe, who should have been in the starting XI.
Where Were the Transfer Additions?
Corey Ashe was on the bench. Carrasco was bad. Adrian Winter and David Mateos were nearly non-existent. Mateos was hyped as a center back who specializes in pushing forward on the attack. Not only was he unable to push any attack forward, he also had a hard time dealing with the Sounders group of strikers. Essentially, he fit right in with the rest of the Orlando City defenders in recent weeks.
Plenty of fans were sold on Mateos before he even suited up for the squad. Maybe this will make them pull back their expectations for the defender. There certainly is an adjustment period that Mateos and Collin have to undergo working together. But there is no excuse for allowing players to consistently dribble through two people in the box, which Seattle was able to do.
Winter, like all of Orlando City's attacking players, was essentially invisible, though he had to take on a more defensive role after Turner was sent off. The Lions just could not get the ball forward. On the off chance that they did, there was no space for either Winter, Kaká or Cyle Larin to work with, which resulted in the Lions failing to register a shot on goal.
Other than that, things went pretty well.