Bummer at the Bowl.
Yesterday, Orlando City seemed to have everything going for it on paper. Scored an early goal, dominated possession, and went up a man, but still found a way to give up a goal on a counter attack and the Lions failed to capitalize on the advantage given to them.
So, without further ado, let's get right into our five takeaways from the match:
Nocerino Makes His Debut
After just over a week in town, new boy Antonio Nocerino made his first appearance for the Lions in his preferred role, defensive midfield. While it wasn't a performance to remember for the Italian, he put in a solid 63 minutes on the pitch and had a few moments that showed his talents. However, his turnover in the 14th minute led to Chicago's only goal and while it wasn't all his fault, there's still a lot to be desired. Head Coach Adrian Heath said after the game that his match fitness will get better over time. After all this was his first competitive match since the end of August last year. He'll get into the full swing of things soon enough.
Don't Blame Ted Unkel (Mostly)
So, hear me out on this one. Ted Unkel may have made a few questionable calls, including a big no-penalty call in the late stages of the game, but he gave Orlando ample opportunities to win at home. The Lions had a man advantage for 58 minutes of the game and still were not able to capitalize. In my eyes, both teams committed roughly an equal number of fouls and Orlando probably got away with a few calls here and there, so blaming Ted Unkel for Orlando's inability to score for the majority of the match isn't a fair assessment. The bottom line is that you can't use the referee as an excuse in this situation, regardless of the non-penalty.
No Kaká = No Quality (Again)
I said it last week and I'll say it again: not having Kaká out on the field hurts the team more than people think. Having gone through a full preseason working in the attacking third with all the starters, it hurts when one of your key cogs in the offense is not on the field. It's like a finely tuned machine missing a gear to help it run. The gears don't turn the way you would want. There's grinding and sparks fly when that gear is out of place and sometimes those gears will indeed turn, but they don't quite function the way they should. Adrian Heath said in his post game comments that Kaká was close to coming back, but would most likely not be available for New York City FC next Friday. So, Orlando will have one week to try to figure things out in the interim before their next game.
Still No Final Product
As much as things change, others still manage to stay the same. Much like this time last year, Orlando's product in the final third is very much lacking. Besides Larin's goal, the Lions weren't able to make an impact on the score sheet. Molino, Barry, Larin, Ribeiro, and Winter all had chances to get a second goal on the board, but the team couldn't buy a goal. Everyone seemed to be trying too hard to find the perfect chance to score, rather than creating a good chance. The team can't be too picky when it comes to scoring.
Home Unbeaten Streak Though...
While the result is disappointing, there's still light at the end of the tunnel. Going back to last season, Orlando City has remained unbeaten at the Citrus Bowl over their last eight games. The start of this streak, ironically, started the last time Orlando played Chicago back on Aug. 29, 2015, when the team managed a 1-1 draw. Since then, the team has gone 5-0-3. To quote Monty Python's Life of Brian,"Always look on the bright side of life."
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Two games down, now on to NYCFC at Yankee Stadium next Friday.