When Orlando set out with its expectations to some day reach Major League Soccer, the club followed the blueprints built by clubs like the Portland Timbers and the same Sounders they saw this weekend -- building a strong foundation through its fans in the USL, then getting to MLS and producing loud, exciting environments and championship winning teams.
"As a new expansion club, everybody looks at what Seattle did as a blueprint," Orlando City head coach Adrian Heath said over the weekend. "They were obviously very successful right out of the gate."
Orlando City got the first part down -- coming into the match, the Lions are second in MLS in average attendance this season, with over 32,000 fans per game, second to only the Sounders. To achieve the second part, they wanted to emulate the 2009 Sounders as only the second expansion team since 2000 to make the playoffs.
But there was just one problem: on the field, these are two completely different teams right now.
Seattle completely out-played Orlando City for 90 minutes. The Lions had trouble creating any chances throughout the match and were hardly good moving forward at any point in the match. They finished with zero shots on goal out of five attempts, all while the Sounders put up four goals -- their most in a game in a long time -- in the rout.
While the Sounders, as a team, played particularly well on Sunday, the biggest difference worth pointing out was the play of each team's designated players.
Seattle's form relies heavily on the play of its DPs -- namely Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins -- and it really showed for a large part of this summer when the team went into a 1-8-0 funk. Martins returned against Orlando City for the first time since June and scored two goals. Nelson Valdez -- a new Designated Player signed this summer -- also scored in his debut.
On the other side of the field, Orlando City primarily relies on Kaká to provide the spark on offense, and at times he's been almost non-existent, as was the case yesterday. Unlike Dempsey and Martins, the group Kaká is working with is not enough to do damage in this league without having another big DP playing alongside him.
Carlos Rivas and Bryan Rochez are being brought along slowly, and they might not be ready to take over the league until Kaká's time in Orlando comes to an end.
Just like Seattle coming into the match, Orlando City is in a major funk right now, having lost five of its last seven MLS matches, but hope hasn't faded yet.
Orlando City wasn't just beaten by another club on Sunday, they were beaten club they club they one day hope to be.