Having a bad performance is never a good time. Laying an egg on a nationally broadcast match is even worse, since announcers like Taylor Twellman will be quick to point out a team's faults over and over. This was the case for Orlando City Sunday afternoon. This isn't a case of the good, the bad, and the ugly. Here are the five takeaways from Orlando City's last match.
Orlando City's Defense Is The Worst
This isn't just a cry based on one game or a knee-jerk reaction from a passionate fan. This is fact. Since being an MLS team, the Lions haven't been able to keep back-to-back clean sheets in league play. Against Sporting Kansas City, the Lions faced 34 shots, the third most in the history of MLS in a single game. The scoreline could have been much worse if it wasn't for the play of Joe Bendik, who finished the match with 10 saves. The defensive skills of Brek Shea seem to have regressed, and Antonio Nocerino is in the lineup to back Shea up when he goes forward, not that his presence has actually helped. The Lions have been able to score early or first in matches all season, but with this defense, the team can't hold onto a lead and win.
Missed Early Opportunites Against SKC
Head Coach Adrian Heath is known to say goals change games, but another way to look at it is to say failing to score goals when you have a chance also changes games. If Orlando City could have finished even one of their first half chances, it certainly would have altered the play in the game. Instead, the Lions had no shots on goal, and only managed seven shots total. In fact, Orlando City actually managed the rare feat of scoring a goal without having any shots on goal. The Lions will need to figure out why they laid an egg in Kansas City and clean up better.
Missed Calls Cost Orlando City
This isn't a point on referee Ismail Elfath, but more on the AR in his crew. Dom Dyer was offside when he scored the first goal against Orlando City, but the flag did not go up like it should have. I understand the pace of the game is sometimes too fast for a ref to determine the correct call, but it's still frustrating to have another call go against the Lions. Here's what I'm talking about.
Substitutions Were Used. Happy?
The cries from fans the last few weeks have been on the substitution strategy Heath uses during the course of the match. Since Heath was in the suite observing his team's performance, he didn't have any say in how or when the club would make use of the subs. In minute 65, Luke Boden was put in for Shea. Perhaps, Shea was pulled due to an injury, but more than likely his performance was to blame for his early departure. Then, in minute 71, with the Lions up a goal, Cyle Larin was removed for Julio Baptista. Hindsight asks why Larin left early when I, for example, would have preferred to have seen Adrian Winter come in for Nocerino. In other words, I don't think Orlando's substitutions impacted the game in a positive manner. Let's give Heath more credit on when to substitute players because he's shown in the past his timely subs have impacted the game in the Lions' favor more often than not (i.e.,the opener vs. RSL, the first New England match, etc.).
Orlando City Slide Continues
It happened last season, too. This year, Orlando City has started its slide earlier, so there is still time for the team to correct problem areas and push into the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference. That being said, the Lions are now winless in their last six matches (0-3-3), as they currently sit below the red line in the East. The positives over this period are Orlando City still is averaging over a point a match and the club only sits five points behind the conference-leading Montreal Impact with a game in hand. This means the next match, against the same Impact, is huge for the team, and one win can stem the negative feeling connected with the Lions.
Well, those are just some of the takeaways from the match. Is there something I missed you want to point out or have any other thoughts? Just leave a comment below. Keep the faith and turn the page.