It feels pretty good to do one of these after a win for a change. Orlando City was by far the better team on the field in its 3-1 victory last night over Sporting Kansas City. For all the talk about Dom Dwyer and Benny Feilhaber, it was Swiss addition Adrian Winter and young DP Bryan Rochez who made the most noise on a humid Sunday night at the Citrus Bowl in front of 22,241 rabid fans.
City pulled into a sixth-place tie with Montreal Impact, but obviously sits below the line due to goal differential. Let's get to our five takeaways from Orlando's first victory in more than a month.
Lions Finally Show Teeth
When Winter scored in the third minute against SKC, it snapped a streak of 526 minutes since an Orlando City player found the net. The last Lions goal came against Chicago on Aug. 29, but that was ruled an own-goal by the Fire's Eric Gehrig. Luke Boden had been the last Lion to put the ball in the back of the net on Aug. 5 at Toronto FC. 72'
Winter wasn't even supposed to be there, according to Adrian Heath.
"Actually I don't know what he was doing in there, because he shouldn't have been in there," Heath said. "Probably let him do what he wants to in the future. He will probably get in better positions in the box."
For his part, the right winger thought he lined up correctly.
"We trained yesterday in practice and they tell me 'you have to to go to the second post,' so I go to the second post and the ball comes and I make the goal," said Winter.
It was Winter's first goal in an Orlando City uniform and the first scored by a Lion since Winter and Mateos debuted with the club against Philadelphia on Aug. 8. Winter enjoyed it so much that he scored again in the 72nd minute. In between the two goals, Bryan Rochez added his first MLS goal in the 66th minute. It was a surprising offensive outburst considering team captain Kaká missed the match due to injury.
Higuita/Carrasco Partnership Shines
Much of Orlando's success should be attributed by the hard work in the middle of the pitch by defensive midfielders Cristian Higuita and Servando Carrasco. The former had yet another stellar outing and the latter had by far his best game in a purple uniform, outworking his former Sporting teammates all over the field.
Kansas City's attack can be a potent one but with only a few exceptions on the night, Orlando's defensive midfield duo shut down Dom Dwyer, Graham Zusi, Krisztian Nemeth and Benny Feilhaber. I've been critical of Carrasco on this site because I don't feel he's played well to this point since his arrival, but I was impressed with his work rate and overall play against SKC.
Lewis Neal Struggling to Find Net
Although he played well for the most part as the Lions' central attacking midfielder, and was praised by Adrian Heath after the match for it, Neal missed two more sitters like the one he wanged against Chicago Fire a couple games back. In both the fifth and 55th minute, Neal was set up for a virtual tap-in. On the first, he missed the net wide left. The second he left a bit too close to goalkeeper Jon Kempin, who (in fairness) made a fantastic one-handed save. If Neal could have buried his two glorious chances, it would have been a laugher. Still, he did make up for it a bit with an assist on Winter's second goal.
For the first time since June, Brek Shea played in a game for Orlando City. The left wing/left back, who underwent sports hernia surgery a couple of months ago, checked in for Carlos Rivas in the 61st minute and it took him only five minutes to make an impact. Shea got on the end of a David Mateos long ball forward, sped past Saad Abdul-Salaam, and cut back a perfect ball for Bryan Rochez, who scored easily.
"For Brek, it was just great to get the big guy back on the field again," Heath said in his postgame presser. "You saw the reaction of the crowd. He gives the crowd a lift and he gives his teammates a lift. And obviously he picked the right ball for the goal."
Rochez Providing a Spark
For the second game in a row, Honduran U-20 international Bryan Rochez came on as a substitute and made an impact. Orlando was struggling to register shots a week ago at New England when Rochez came on for the final 22 minutes and recorded three shots without much support. Against SKC, Rochez not only scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal, but he also out-worked the defense to get to a loose ball to help set up Winter's second tally. It was a huge night for the young Designated Player, who figures to start getting more minutes if his play continues.