Wow! What a season it has been for Orlando City. Even though the team has been performing consistently throughout all its games thus far, yesterday’s showing was by far the sweetest and most important. Here's what we took away from the match.
Orlando City Gets Its First Road Win
If you watched the game on TV then you are already well aware that Orlando City had not previously won a game on the road this season. Much was made of the fact, even though the club has only played one other away game so far.
Jason Kreis even talked to the media about the importance of a first road win. The reason a first road win is so important is that the longer it takes to get, the less confidence the team has when playing away from home. Fortunately, now we can say that the Lions have achieved that first road win after a 2-1 win against New York City FC at Yankee Stadium. This was also a good road win to get because it came on one of the worst pitches in MLS. NYCFC has a distinct advantage being used to the smaller field and Orlando overcame that advantage. Perhaps now the team will have confidence playing away no matter what the quality of the pitch is.
The Defense Looks Like Major League Soccer’s Best
You don't have to watch any other team's games to see that the Lions have the best defense in the league. What I believe is so great about the defense is that it not only excels as a defensive unit, but also has individual talent that helps going forward. Both factors have been on display all season, but yesterday it was clearer than ever. In terms of its strength as a unit, it definitely prospered on that front by keeping the dynamic attack of NYCFC to just one goal. In terms of individual attacking prowess, both fullbacks got an assist yesterday off of two brilliant crosses which set up Cyle Larin perfectly.
Orlando City Beat a Bonafide Playoff Contender
Major League Soccer is known for many things. It is probably best known by fans for its parity, which yields lots of wrong predictions and exciting games late in the season. One of the teams in the Eastern Conference favored to make the playoffs at the start of the season is New York City FC. Well, Orlando has now conquered them home and away, solidifying Orlando’s own playoff aspirations. I believe that because of the quality of the club’s players and its current position on the table (first place) Orlando City should now be viewed as a favorite to represent the East in the MLS Cup.
Cyle Larin Scores a Brace
Cyle Larin has been fantastic this season, solidifying himself as one MLS's best attackers. He used to be known as a great prospect but is now showing that he is on par with league stars such as David Villa. Of course, yesterday he competed against Villa and his two goals beat out Villa's one. What was special though was the fact that he scored twice off of two shots. The goal scoring rate is not sustainable, but against one of the league's best teams it was great to see.
The Attack Survived Without MPG or Kaká
I'm sure I'm not alone when I say that I was surprised to see Matias Peréz Garcia on the bench after coming back from suspension. Without Kaká, MPG is really the only true playmaker so you'd think Kreis would want him on the pitch at all times. Clearly, Kreis didn't think he was necessary to beat New York City and it did work out in the end. Even though Orlando City won, I wouldn't call it a gamble that paid off because MPG probably could have added more to the table than Giles Barnes did. Either way, the Lions beat a very good team with no clear player pulling the strings. This should be a cause for excitement as who knows what the club can do with MPG and/or Kaká.
What do you think of our five takeaways? Is there anything else that stood out to you about the game?