Orlando City ended a tumultuous 2017 MLS season with a disastrous 6-1 result against the Philadelphia Union in Philly. Orlando City was without some of its typical faces. Kaká played his final MLS match last week, Cyle Larin was left out due to a hip flexor, and Joe Bendik picked up a possible concussion on the last day of training. It was bound to be a match with plenty to prove, and I am not sure how many players staked their claim to spots next year. Here are my takeaways from the final match of the 2017 season for the Lions.
And That’s How it Ends
There were a few moments of fantastic play, including that free kick from Yoshimar Yotun to Dom Dwyer late to negate the shutout, but that was about it. It was an odd 4-3-3 formation with some even odder personnel choices to the starting XI. The game ended the same way the entire 2017 season did, with disappointing play and too many questions.
Where was the Defense?
If you find Orlando City’s defenders, please let me know. The center back pairing of Seb Hines and Leo Pereira was no match for the Union counterattack. Pereira seemed lost for the first 20 minutes while ball watching, and Hines did not have the speed to challenge the Union forwards. PC also had a poor performance and was caught too far forward too often.
Earl and the Five-Hole
Earl Edwards Jr. needs to take some time this off-season and work on blocking the five-hole. This was an issue he had early in the season for OCB, and once again he got beat between his legs yesterday. Can’t completely blame him though, as he was abandoned by his defensive line.
Lack of Creativity in the Middle
Again, the lack of creativity in the central midfield is a glaring hole that needs to be filled this off-season. Too often, a Lion held possession in the middle of the pitch and had no options for passing. It wasn’t because the Union were shutting all the passing lanes down, it was because there was no movement or creativity in the Lions’ midfield to make things happen. Yoshimar Yotun was one player who tried, but when you are alone and trying to push, mistakes are bound to happen, and mistakes lead to goals for opponents.
Depth is Not There
Even though Orlando City was able to acquire some great players this season, it is obvious that the depth is still not there. The team may have it at a few positions, but overall the club has no depth. At this point I can’t name one player that is a constant substitute we all know is going to impact a match.
That was one of the most difficult matches to watch during this roller coaster of a 2017 season. The season did not pan out as we had hoped, but I look forward to doing this again with you all next season and bringing you the drama that is bound to be the off-season. I think this result is the harbinger of change to come.