Orlando City hasn't won a game in over a month. That's just, well, not good. That game was a commanding 4-1 victory against the defending champion Portland Timbers on April 3. Since then, it's been three draws and three losses. The situation makes it difficult to feel optimistic about a team that did a lot of talking about playoffs before the season started.
The team has 11 points on a 2-3-5 record. For comparisons sake, at this point last year, the team was 2-5-3 with nine points. That team, however was on the verge of a 4-0 victory against the 2014 defending champion LA Galaxy -- a victory that kicked off a stretch where the Lions picked up points in five consecutive games (three wins and two draws).
While that proves that a great stretch can be right around the corner, following the loss to Sporting KC, it is difficult to imagine that this team has it in them. The victory against Portland brought back memories of the win against LA a year ago, but unlike last year, City was unable to use it as a springboard toward a successful run.
The 2016 version of Orlando City doesn't look like a more complete team than the 20015 version. Aside from Joe Bendik, none of the newcomers have had much of an impact. Kevin Alston has struggled to find the field, Julio Baptista has yet to score (though he did draw the PK in his first game), and as for Antonio Nocerino, his play could be a whole article in itself (just check our front page).
No help is coming from the farm, either, as OCB could only dream of replicating OCSC's recent form (in fairness, however, OCB has won a game more recently). On defense, only Tyler Turner has turned any heads in Melbourne, but that's been mainly from his offensive contributions. He still has too many mental errors on defense. Nobody in midfield for the B-team could be considered for a call-up -- not that they would potentially unseat anyone in Orlando anyway -- and OCB's offense has been, well, offensive. Michael Cox has been a bit of a bright spot, but he's not on the OCSC roster, so he can't be called up except for U.S. Open Cup games. The less said about Richie Laryea and Bryan Rochez, the better.
There are a few reasons for optimism, though. Kaká has seemed revitalized this season. His fitness seems much improved over last season, and he seems to have adjusted well to the league. Kevin Molino is finding his form after missing most of last season with injury. Bendik has been a revelation in goal as he seems to be a weekly fixture for MLS save of the week. And, of course, Tommy Redding has the look of a man who can lock down the central defense for years to come.
Yet, it seems that for every point of optimism, there are as many areas of concern. Brek Shea has played well offensively, but has replicated a practice cone on defense. Rafael Ramos has not taken the step forward that some (myself included) were expecting. Injury and suspension have kept the team from fielding a consistent starting XI. And, of course, there's Nocerino.
It's not out of the realm of possibility that the Lions can turn things around. They did it last year, and nearly found themselves making the playoffs. Yet, the rough start to 2016 finds the team needing to string some victories together simply to keep pace with the expansion version. It's not too late to turn things around, but with a third of the season now behind us, the time to make a move is rapidly approaching.