What a tough stretch we're on here in Orlando. The boys in purple have won just one league game in July and August combined, falling to Toronto and PRO refs this weekend in a 9-man, 5-0 defeat.
Things can look especially bleak in stretches like this, but we had to know Orlando City's debut MLS season would have its ups and downs. It's in these downs, these valleys, where foundations for improvement are built. You don't just "turn it on," and flip the switch one day. You try to improve on the successes and correct the errors from game to game.
While it may feel like no successes can be found in a five-goal loss, the Stock Watch is here to assure you -- there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Cristian Higuita - Missing partner in crime Darwin Ceren is no cakewalk, but Higuita did several things well trying to hold the midfield together on Saturday. His passing was as attentive as ever, good for a 93% success rate as the only starter to beat the 90 mark. He was fiery and energetic, and, while it's never a great idea to go shouting in a ref's face, I think we can all agree that our conversation with these officials would have been much, much more colorful.
Orlando Fans' Patience - Seriously, if I were an MLS official, I would be terrified to come to Orlando. Going a man down in nine (nine!) league games is unreal, a nightmare we've all been living together. It's a testament to you that these gentlemen feel comfortable coming to this city, because -- my god -- have they been unjust.
We can talk all day about Ramos' studs and reshaping the right side of the formation, and I'm in for a fun conversation. What I rarely hear come up is complaints about the officials, despite what the numbers say. and that's pretty awesome.
You can't control what you can't control, and the fans seem to realize it as much as Inchy himself. When the Magic played the Lakers in the 2009 NBA finals, we heard a lot of talk about Derek Fisher pushing off and Kobe's elbow, but little talk about the missed layup from Courtney Lee that would win the game anyway. The focus was on things the players couldn't control, rather than focusing on the mistakes made that could be controlled.
We don't get that with this group. This group rises above.
Keep it classy, Orlando. I'm proud of you.
Adrian Winter - A tough afternoon for Winter, who didn't look up to par virtually from beginning to end. Losing his playmate on the right surely did no favors, but it's no excuse for the resulting effort here. Responsible for two goals solely from his bookings, Winter also managed to complete just 62% of his 16 passes in the game.
Winter came to the Lions as an enigma with a lot of hope and expectations pinned to him -- however unfairly. Missing Kevin Molino since early in the year, the right side has been a mess and Winter is here to help stabilize the position. We know Inchy believes in him, and believes in his ability to fit into this system. When Winter is able to put it all together on the pitch, we look forward to writing his name in the "Rising" section.
Rafael Ramos - Rafa was having a decent enough showing until that studs-down tackle somehow earned him red. His speed and aggressiveness are two of his best qualities, but he needs to ensure they're controlled -- while I don't think he deserved red, he certainly flew into the tackle with a seemingly unnecessary reckless abandon. Keep your feet, and the official never feels like he has to blow the whistle.