It was another futile evening for Orlando City, which fell 2-0 at New York Red Bulls on Wednesday. The Lions have now failed to score in three consecutive outings, and Interim Head Coach Bobby Murphy has not yet seen this Orlando side score in 180 minutes of action since he took over for the now-departed Adrian Heath. I'll leave the depressing recap to Gavin Ewbank, let's get to our five takeaways from the Lions' most recent shutout loss.
Carlos Rivas Ineffective at the No. 9 Spot
Rivas got the start up front for Orlando City, playing center forward for the first time this year in an effort for the Lions to conserve Cyle Larin for their second match later this week at Vancouver. The Colombian has previously played striker prior to his OCSC days, and claimed that he feels more comfortable there than he does on the wing, but you wouldn't have been able to tell by watching him on Wednesday night.
Rivas looked semi-dangerous at times in the first half, mainly due to his speed, but he struggled to stay onside a number of times and couldn't shake Aurélien Collin on a few other opportunities. Overall, Rivas failed to impress, and he was mostly anonymous after the early going. The only half-chance Rivas contributed to came in minute 46 when Kevin Molino and the Colombian worked to create a break that was only turned into an awkward, fading shot from Brek Shea, which was blocked away and prevented from becoming a real threat.
Bobby Murphy's plan to save bodies may have worked, but it came at the expense of any offensive production for City up front before Rivas' exit at the hour mark.
Lions' Plan to Sit Back Doesn't Have Desired Result
Just as Murphy's plan for Rivas to throw NYRB off their game didn't pan out, his plan to sit back and attack on the counter was also unsuccessful. To be fair, losses like Orlando's 3-2 defeat at Red Bulls earlier this season show how they're vulnerable to being taken advantage of against a high press, so the change-up wasn't unwarranted, but it just didn't work as he'd hoped.
The Lions managed several shots on target in the second half, the most dangerous being Cyle Larin's 1-v-1 that Luis Robles stopped in the 76th minute, but that came once OCSC trailed 2-0 and City managed just two shots in the first 45, zero of which required any work from Robles to stop.
Orlando City Needs Kaká Back ASAP
Not that this required a genius to discern, but the Lions badly miss their captain in the attacking midfield. Young Harrison Heath got the start at the No. 10 position tonight and lasted only 45 minutes before injury forced him off, but "H" is better suited for a role in the defensive midfield and, after a nice showing against Houston last week, offered next to nothing from a creative standpoint before his exit.
Heath only started in the attacking trio due to a lack of personnel -- Kaká being out with injury and Adrian Winter's departure from the side due to personal reasons have left the midfield depleted -- but it's fair to say he's not the future in the middle of the park for the Lions. Outside of the first 45 minutes at Dallas, Orlando's scoreless run the last three games has all come without the services of Ricky, and City desperately needs him back to spearhead the attack and help generate chances for his teammates that just aren't coming right now.
Molino A Relative No-Show
With a lack of bodies to line up in the midfield, Molino was kept out wide to the right in favor of Heath in the middle, but The Original failed to take charge of the City attack in his 90 minutes of action on the evening. Molino, who has come into his own this season, failed to generate any shots on the evening, and outside of his through ball to play Larin in for a 1-v-1 opportunity later in the second half, he was unable to generate anything of real meaning for Orlando City on a night when they needed him to be the man in the midfield. Molino certainly wasn't alone in his down evening, but he was the one reliable creator the Lions had in the starting XI and he was unable to make much happen and prevent another dead offensive night from City.
Murphy Shut Out Again
After seeing just one shutout in their first 16 matches of 2016 under the guidance of Adrian Heath -- his last game in charge at FCD -- the Lions have now failed to score at all since Bobby Murphy took over as interim manager. As mentioned above, he tried to change the strategy up for City to no avail, and it's not his fault that Kaká is injured and Winter left, but zero goals -- and zero real threat of a goal -- in two games is not promising for a Lions squad facing more tough road games in the immediate future and lacking a whole lot of hope at this point of the summer.