Yes, PRO PRO'd us again. Whether it was or wasn't a hand ball, we still ended up talking about the refs two weeks in a row. While that was certainly a problem, it wasn't the worst part of the match for Orlando City. Let's take a look at some of the factors that affected the result.
It was partly cloudy with a stiff breeze. As a fan in the stands, the breeze was often welcome. As a player, it certainly affected the passing. That's certainly not an excuse, since both teams would have been dealing with the wind. The difference was how each team adjusted to the wind. New England closed on the ball when passing, and Orlando City did not. This is reflected in the time of possession in the first half, which was decidedly in New England's favor. So why didn't the Lions adjust in the first half?
The Early Goal
When the match began, Orlando City pressed the attack immediately, was awarded a penalty kick, and scored to go up one goal. It was a perfect beginning. After that, all sense of urgency, and all the attacking energy behind that first goal seemed to leave the team. The Lions were on the back foot the rest of the first half, with everyone turning the ball over on bad passes. Sometimes an early goal changes the mentality of a team, as was evident in their play. The team stopped pressing advantages, which allowed New England to flip the tables, and press the attack the remainder of the first half.
In the second half, Orlando City tried to take back the momentum and press forward, but was still not possessing the ball enough to create those chances. In previous games Adrian Winter and Carlos Rivas were sharper. Winter in particular has seemed to be the energizer bunny for Orlando City. That wasn't the case on Sunday. It wasn't until Cyle Larin and Kevin Molino came on for Winter and Rivas that Orlando started winning the possession battle. Their presence made it so New England was unable to press forward and thus opened up the passing lanes for the Lions. When combined with their fresh legs and desire to push forward, Orlando was able to significantly increase its scoring opportunities. It also allowed Kaká to move over and be more creative on the left side. After several chances, Orlando found the back of the net to seemingly win the match.
There will be plenty of debate on the hand ball penalty/non-penalty, but those calls are going to happen. Sometimes it will be in our favor, other times not. What is more important is how this team adjusts to things that happen in a game, whether that be the weather, an early lead, an early deficit, injuries or a penalty. The season is young and there will be many opportunities to make those adjustments as the season goes on. Despite a sloppy first half, Orlando City was able to do so on Sunday.