Orlando City defeated the Philadelphia Union yesterday in their penultimate game of the season. Here are five things that I took from the game.
Orlando City Continue Fighting
Orlando City went into the penultimate game of the season in Philadelphia having already been eliminated from playoff contention. The club’s playoff run ended two weeks ago when the Lions lost 1-0 to the Montreal Impact. Meanwhile, the Union were looking to take a big step toward clinching that sixth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Despite the two teams being in two completely different situations, the Lions played with heart while they could've just gone through the motions.
Carlos Rivas Shows Improvement
Carlos Rivas has taken criticism over the past two seasons and much of it was deserved. Whether it's a lack of hustle or ill-advised shots, Rivas has had his struggles. However, Rivas had a good performance in Philadelphia, showing what Orlando City fans have wanted to see from the forward, but rarely have. The biggest moment for Rivas came in the 60th minute when his hustle on a misplayed ball by the Union defense near midfield turned into an Orlando City breakaway. Despite a poor final touch giving Union goalkeeper Andre Blake an opportunity to make a save, the ball found the back of the net giving Rivas the winning goal.
Defensive Effort Shines
Orlando City has struggled defensively this year. The Lions have the fourth-worst goal differential in the league at -8 and have conceded a league-leading 58 goals this season. But, despite some very close calls, Orlando City was able to complete the clean sheet. It was the team's fifth MLS clean sheet of the season and the second in which it came away with all three points. The only other league game where the Lions shut out the opponent while scoring was the team's third game of the season against New York City FC, where they defeated the other 2015 expansion team, 1-0, at Yankee Stadium.
Epitome of the Season
While the Lions did complete the 1-0 victory in Philadelphia, they had several opportunities to put the game away but were unable to. It's been a problem for Orlando City over the past two years. The Lions have dominated games but have been unable to convert on their opportunities, which has left the team staring at lost points throughout the year. Fortunately for the Lions, they did convert on one goal which was enough to grab all three points.
Orlando City Will Change to a 4-4-2
Jason Kreis has been known for his 4-4-2 formation. After arriving in Orlando, Kreis kept Adrian Heath's preferred 4-2-3-1 formation, deciding not to make too drastic of a change in the team. But as we've gotten nearer to the end of the season, you've seen Kreis use that 4-4-2 formation. We saw it again yesterday with Rivas and Cyle Larin playing up top. With the recent frequency of the formation, I think it's safe to say that we'll see it commonly next season.
These are my five main takeaways from Orlando City’s 2-0 win in Philadelphia. Let me know what your takeaways were below.