The Lions (7-8-13, 34 points) struck first behind a Kevin Molino goal but then saw LA (11-4-14, 47 points) score four straight times -- with some help on the second and third -- en route to handing Orlando City a 4-2 loss in Landon Donovan's return to Major League Soccer.
Following that win at Montreal, Jason Kreis opted for consistency in the starting XI:
Bruce Arena countered with a formidable lineup for the hosts:
The first half started off as expected, with plenty of possession for the home team that allowed the Galaxy to get on the front foot with some dangerous play early. Then, like a bolt out of the blue, Orlando drew first blood with its first real attack. Molino put away a brilliant goal off a chance created by an overlapping Luke Boden in the 20th minute. This is a prime example of how Kreis' use of the fullbacks can help Orlando City. Cyle Larin did well to get a shot on target off Boden's cross, but defender Jelle Van Damme blocked it off his chest. Molino was there for the scraps and made no mistake with his left-footed strike.
The game then took a turn for the worse. Actually, three turns. On a quick counter up the field, Giovani Dos Santos didn't squander the easy chance to level the score in the 35th minute. LA quickly pounced on some positional indiscipline from Kevin Alston, displaying what can go oh so horribly wrong when you play a high line without anyone with some pace.
A long ball from Van Damme sent Emmanuel Boateng down Orlando's left flank, as the Galaxy attacked with speed and got in behind the defense. Boateng's cross made for an easy finish for Dos Santos.
The Lions then conceded another goal in the 38th due to a combination of poor defending and a missed offside call. It would've been nice to see someone challenge the second ball before it came in, but the official missed one here. Boateng corralled a Jose Aja clearance off a corner. He beat Matias Perez Garcia to the loose ball and one-timed a pass to Dos Santos, who was offside. The flag stayed down and the Mexican international put a cross in that had only to hit Alan Gordon and bounce in to make it 2-1.
Another poor refereeing decision allowed LA to increase the lead in first-half stoppage time as Jose Aja fouled Gordon right outside the box in the 43rd minute. The foul was clearly outside the box, which is also where the contact ended, yet a penalty was given instead of a standard free kick. Dos Santos buried it, sending Joe Bendik the wrong way.
City went into the locker room looking demoralized. On a different day, it could've easily been level, because even though LA had the majority of the more dangerous chances, the Galaxy's two goals that put them out of sight were dependent on refereeing decisions.
The second half started, and Orlando stuck with the original game plan of putting numbers far up the field. This continued to give the Galaxy options on the counter as the men in white won most of the midfield battles. Substitute Robbie Keane took full advantage of the high line and slotted one home just moments after coming on in the 70th minute.
A quick turnover created the counter and the Orlando defense was torched by multiple players. The ball ended up on Keane's foot as he avoided the onrushing Bendik and made it 4-1 in the 70th minute.
Landon Donovan then made his much-anticipated return to MLS in the 82nd minute although his impact on the game was minimal, as you'd expect after his two years out of the league.
The introduction of Carlos Rivas and Brek Shea for an Cyle Larin and Kaká, respectively, coupled with Van Damme being withdrawn by the Galaxy, provided more territorial play for Orlando. But it simply didn't happen for the Lions in the final third until Shea fired one in from close in stoppage time. Perhaps Shea could've influenced a different outcome if he had been brought on earlier as he generated three good chances in his 17 minutes of work.
Overall, Orlando City fans should come away from this match feeling disappointed in a variety of things, but mainly the tactics. The refereeing was poor, which allowed LA to gain a sizable lead very early on, but it could be said the Galaxy might have done so anyway.
Kreis poured number up the field against a team that has been known to love the counter attack. Orlando has a leaky back line as is, and playing such a high line was a huge risk and one that didn't provide too much going forward. The Lions simply don't have the players to execute this style of play in an efficient manner at this moment in time.
The Lions remain in sixth place in the Eastern Conference for now. Orlando City will be back in action Saturday night at Camping World Stadium when the Columbus Crew visit at 7:30 p.m.