Orlando City headed west to take on the LA Galaxy on Sunday night, and it was not the trip that Head Coach Jason Kreis or the fans were hoping for. Despite the disappointment, we should still take a look at what it means for Orlando City. So here are your five takeaways.
Landon Donovan Returns
"Captain America" hit the MLS field for the first time in quite a while. Landon Donovan, Major League Soccer's all-time goal leader, made his return in the 82nd minute of the match. Was it because the Galaxy needed him? Was it because they were up by three goals and had nothing to lose? Was it because the fans demanded that he see the field? Yes. All of the above are true. Regardless, the guy that had the least amount of affect during the game, was also the biggest story of the night. Orlando didn't win but at least the Lions were part of history.
The outcome was way less than ideal, but D.C. United tied with New York Red Bulls, and as such, the Lions maintain a very small lead in the playoff hunt over DCU and the New England Revolution. Orlando City is still above the red line with plenty of Eastern Conference opponents to come. Orlando City has a game in hand against New England, and the Lions have two more games against D.C. United. There is still plenty to be sorted out.
For the first half of the first half, the back line for Orlando seemed to be organized and effective. Then, the quick counter attacks began. Perhaps they were pressing high, as Kreis wants. Perhaps they didn’t get back in time. Regardless, those counters resulted in the lopsided score we ended up seeing. I think that the score doesn’t convey the progress that the back line has made. While I’ll admit that the breakdowns were disappointing (to say the least), I still feel that ,overall, the defense is improving. I expect a bunch of comments on this takeaway.
The Orlando Midfield and the LA Galaxy Defense
Effective at first, Orlando City’s midfield broke down the rest of the game. It was a lack of consistent passing on either side of the midfield line. Errant passes going astray happened far too often. LA was able to generally neutralize Kaká, and Cyle Larin was held in check and ineffective the entire game.
PRO gonna PRO
Oh yes, there were bad calls that changed the course of the game. The "penalty" in the box that wasn’t in the box, that resulted in a goal...bad call. Gio Dos Santos was clearly offside when Emmanuel Boateng played in the ball after Jose Aja cleared the initial corner kick on the second Galaxy goal, as well. To be fair, that only accounts for two of LA’s goals, and who knows what might have happened off a free kick just outside the box after Aja's "penalty" foul, but it was a heart breaker for the Orlando defense and changed the complexion of the game.
So that’s what I saw. What did you see, think, or feel? Let us know in the comments. Vamos Orlando!