Orlando City's post-Adrian Heath Era began Friday night and it was a real "meh" performance. While there were some positives to take away from the game, there was still a lot to be desired from a 0-0 draw in front of 28,102 fans at home. So, yeah. Let's just get into the takeaways.
The More Things Change...
The old saying, "the more things change, the more things stay the same," was most prevalent for Orlando on Friday night. After Adrian Heath was dismissed three days ago, some may have thought last night's home game could be a turning point for the season, that a new chapter could begin. Instead, the team was sloppy in the final third, couldn't finish chances, and ended up drawing yet another game -- now its ninth of the season. Obviously there was a bit of a cloud hanging over the team after Heath's dismissal, but last night was a chance to shake that cloud off the team's back and get a much-needed win. Instead, it's just another Orlando City draw at home.
Life Without Adrian
Like I said before, this was the first game without Heath in the team's history and it marked a huge shift in the team. Letting the only coach the team has ever known go is tough mentally, regardless of how the players or fans felt about the move. Soccer is a business and sometimes it can be a very tough, cutthroat kind of business. Players are expected to be professionals and just play like they normally would, but for guys like Kevin Molino, Luke Boden, Darwin Cerén -- guys who have been with Adrian since the USL days -- it's always going to be tougher, since they've been with him for so long and he's helped shape their careers. Now, the guys just have to take it one game at a time and hopefully they can get out of the funk that has beset this Orlando City team.
Harrison Heath Gets His Chance
You would think that the coach's son would get more playing time if he played for his father, but the relationship between Harrison and Adrian Heath was not like a usual coach/coach's son relationship. In past interviews, Adrian had said that he felt almost guilty playing Harrison, because he was his son. Despite how the team or other coaches felt about Harrison's ability, Adrian didn't want to seem like he was playing favorites, so he held back in playing his son in certain games. Now, out from under his father's shadow, there's no bias in playing him or not and the younger Heath is able to play freely. His performance last night certainly warranted another look at the 20-year-old and we should expect some more of Harrison in the coming games.
Cyle "Hustle" Larin
All right, let's talk about the Canadian striker. Sure, he didn't put the ball in the back of the net, but he ran his butt off to try and create chances, and took a hefty beating trying to do so. Larin hustled to loose balls, tried to time his runs and didn't make too many poor decisions. Interim Head Coach Bobby Murphy said of Larin, "I think what people don't appreciate about Cyle is the beating he takes night in and night out. He does a lot of running, he does a lot of selfless running. As people are watching the game and the ball here, they don't see Cyle running 40 yards, and he doesn't get it and then he's got to come back again, the ball comes in to him and people are draped all over him, they're kicking him because he's so big and he's gotta endure that.
"For somebody like Cyle, who is now a focal point of our team, people are aware of him and he's not an overnight sensation, and he's going to have those nights. One thing I will never fault with Cyle is his effort. He gives us everything he has, and I think he's proven that even when tired, I don't think I'll take him off because he's got a goal in him."
Things Are Getting Heated
Orlando City is in a state of flux. A new coach is inbound, fans are worried about the future of the club and players are taking heat for not getting results. It's understandable that the emotions are running wild from every side, but everyone needs to understand that this situation is not a new thing in the sporting world. Soccer is a business, and with any business, decisions are made for the sake of the "company" -- in this case, the soccer club. With any decision, it is for the sake of the "company" and the betterment of the business in general. It's still too early to be smashing the panic button for Orlando City. See who the team brings in as the new manager. See how the team finishes out the season, then stop, take a deep breath, and take a step back and overview the entire situation. Then, if things are still the way they are, or even worse, it would be grounds to react. So basically: take everything that comes over the next three months at a measured pace and then evaluate the situation when the season is over.
Well, those are my takeaways from the match. Anything I may have missed that you noticed? Let me know in the comments below.