Well, it's been a bit of a roller coaster ride lately with Orlando City, but here we are. With Interim Head Coach Bobby Murphy at the helm for the time being, to get the season back on track, he's going to have to find a way to capitalize on this team's strength, which is creating chances, in the hopes that overcomes the defensive woes.
In case you missed it, a few weeks ago, I talked about our fullbacks playing more aggressively and joining the rush. Nothing that has happened recently has suggested that this group shouldn't continue to do that. If your fullbacks are going to give up chances, at the very least they should contribute to either gaining the lead or getting those goals back.
But enough about that; let's flip fields and talk about the offense today and whether the Lions can overcome the defensive shortcomings with the talent out there. We'll start with forward Cyle Larin. He gets some guff from time to time about his lack of hustle, but this past Friday, he was after it. If we see that Larin out there each and every game, the goals will fall, that I'm sure of.
He did what forwards are supposed to do, although, time and time again, he found himself in a position to score, only for his form to be a tad off. It happens, and everyone seemed to be guilty of that. Still, he and the team came close a few times to getting the winner. It was the same thing against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in the U.S. Open Cup -- plenty of good chances, just not enough finding the net.
The Houston game was sort of an enigma in that regard. Normally, when a team of this quality generates that many chances, something good is bound to happen. Whether it was pushing the ball to the side or sending it to the moon (Houston, this is Buzz Alston requesting permission for my shot to return to Earth, over), every good opportunity was met with an equally unlucky finishing strike. On Friday, the team treated the 0-0 score as if it was losing the match, and the Lions were doing their best to secure three home points.
What Friday's game cemented, in my opinion, are the team's strengths. Orlando City is good on the wings and good in the counter, with through balls from the fullbacks. With the Brek Shea left fullback experiment potentially over, this should add to that. At his best in Major League Soccer, Shea was a workhorse midfielder who has good touches on his crosses and the ability to finish strikes from distance. If going back to his natural position rekindles even a bit of that form, the team will benefit greatly, especially late in crunch time due to his high fitness.
Then there is Kevin Molino. He's much better currently in the wings with Kaká leading the middle, but with the captain's health in question, it's time for The Original to step up. In a previous roundtable, I gave my opinion he's having a better, more complete season than Kaká. He needs to be the man leading our offense in the coming games, and he can. He's a goal scorer and he's a pretty skilled passer. With all those talents, from the middle of the field, he should be an animal once he gains that confidence.
And this topic wouldn't be complete without mentioning how every player seems to turn it on around the 80- to 85-minute mark. I mean, how many times have the Lions been down a goal this year to only answer in the waning minutes? Granted, we know the opposite happens a lot too, but let's keep focusing on the positives. There is plenty of firepower and skill to reclaim leads and sometimes outright bury the opposition on any given night. When Julio Baptista is your normal super sub at the 65-minute mark, that shows a person that OC has plenty in the goal-scoring department.
With a few question marks heading into the second half (Who replaces Winter as the energy producer? Will Kaká stay healthy? Who framed Roger Rabbit?), the team is still holding on to hope. And with an offense like Orlando City's that finds ways to dig out of deficits, there is good reason for that to continue.