Sometimes, you can’t win them all. But right now Orlando City is struggling to win any, as the Lions extended their winless streak to six games this evening (0-4-2) with a 1-0 loss against Minnesota United at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
No Kevin Molino, but no problem for Minnesota, which needed just a goal from Christian Ramirez to give Adrian Heath a win in his first game against his former club since he was fired last July.
Orlando City (6-5-2, 20 points) played without Kaká for the first time since the game at New York City in April, due to precautionary reasons after the Brazilian suffered a hard foul last week.
Jason Kreis decided to go with a flat 4-4-2 formation.
Despite missing their captain, the Lions got off to a positive start in the match, putting together a couple of promising chances within the first 10 minutes. The game wasn’t a minute old when Matias Perez Garcia fired over the bar off a throw-in. Six minutes later, Scott Sutter’s curling attempt fizzed just inches wide of the left post. In the ninth minute, Sutter’s long throw-in fell to Cyle Larin’s feet, but the Canadian’s stab at it was denied by Bobby Shuttleworth.
Orlando continued to be the better side through the game’s first half hour. Carlos Rivas had more time than he thought, rushing his shot in the 13th minute and firing over goal.
The Loons finally got a little bit of pressure shortly after Rivas’ miss, earning a corner. In the 20th minute, Christian Ramirez got in behind Jose Aja but Joe Bendik made the save.
Minutes later, Larin was cut down by Francisco Calvo and MPG placed his free kick on frame, but Shuttleworth dove to his left to keep it out in the 23rd minute. Minnesota started getting more of the ball after that, with Johan Venegas delighting the home crowd with his diving prowess, “earning” a free kick in a dangerous spot and trying to bait referee Nima Saghafi into a penalty.
Rivas nearly found a breakthrough in the 38th minute, intercepting a horrible back pass by Minnesota and breaking in alone on Shuttleworth. His outside-boot shot beat Shuttleworth but clanked off the left post and bounced back to the Loons’ keeper.
Minnesota’s Miguel Ibarra got the last decent chance of the opening period just before the halftime whistle, taking a cross at the back post but his shot went askew and off frame.
Ramirez nearly broke through just two minutes after the restart when Venegas sent in a cross and the striker lost Aja for the second time in the match. But the ball took a bounce and he mistimed his lunge.
Larin got in down the left in the 48th minute but Shuttleworth came off his line and the Canadian couldn’t get a chip over the keeper as the game began to get stretched for a spell. A minute later on the other end, Venegas was open at the top of the box but his shot was well over the bar. Luis Gil put one on frame a minute after that but right at Shuttleworth.
In the 54th minute, Sutter sent in a cross that was headed out and fell for Antonio Nocerino. The Italian smashed a ball into the turf that picked up speed and Sam Cronin blocked it with his head. The shot left Cronin dazed for a moment but he was able to return.
Unfortunately, two minutes after the Nocerino effort, the Loons broke the deadlock. Ibson hit a ball to Venegas who flicked it over the defense and onto Ramirez, who was just kept onside by left back PC. Bendik came off his line but missed the ball, forcing Ramirez to his left. Aja went for the block but Ramirez coolly pulled it back and slotted into the empty net for the game’s only goal.
Orlando nearly pulled it right back. Will Johnson curled in an effort that forced a diving save from Shuttleworth in the 58th minute. Two minutes later, Rivas had a go but didn’t hit it well and it was right at the keeper.
That was about it for the Lions, aside from a couple of shots over the bar from MPG, another from Johnson, and a weak shot on frame from Rivas. Orlando mustered 20 shots, with seven on target, but for the second straight game could not find a single goal.
The last time Orlando City was held without a goal in consecutive games was a three-game run from July 4-13 of last year, losing 4-0 at FC Dallas, drawing Houston, 0-0, and losing at New York Red Bulls, 2-0 — the latter two matches coming under interim coach Bobby Murphy, as Heath was fired after the Dallas loss.
The Lions won’t have to wait long to try to snap this awful skid, hosting D.C. United on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.