Two draws, two one-goal losses, and two blowouts. That is what May looks like so far for Orlando City. Understandably, Lions fans are not pleased with these returns, especially since the team has slid from first to fourth in the Eastern Conference. Orlando City still has a game left to play against D.C. United, but I think it’s safe to say that May was a disaster. Before we can look ahead on how the team can improve, let’s take a look at what went wrong.
Defense Leaked 13 Goals
It’s probably been the most obvious change in the team’s performance, which is why I start here. In the first seven games this season, the team had five goals against while in the last six games it has allowed a whopping 13. The massive increase in goals comes down to several factors, some of which I’ll address later. In general, the defense has simply been letting goals in that would have been stopped earlier on. Early in the season, the defense was a compact, well-oiled machine. While individual players haven’t actually declined too much, it has seemed that there has been an overall lack of cohesiveness. Personally, I believe Jason Kreis needs to find a way for the defense to work better together and start covering up each other’s messes.
Offside Trap Failed
To piggyback on the defense, Orlando City also failed to effectively utilize the offside trap on multiple occasions. The problem was so bad that it led to three goals being scored. While this may not seem like a lot, three goals coming from something as specific as keeping a guy onside is a big deal. Even more staggering, all three of these goals from a failed trap actually came in the team’s last three games.
The first was not necessarily an offside trap, but it was similar. I’m referring to when Will Johnson kept Chris Wondolowski on before he buried his opportunity to tie up the game. The entire team had stepped up except for Johnson who was caught sleeping.
The next instance was Villa’s second and NYCFC’s third goal. Orlando City was playing an offside trap when Maxi Moralez sent a ball over the defense for Villa to run onto and finish. This time Donny Toia was the guilty party. The third goal was almost identical to the second because this offside trap was also a ball sent over the top where the goal scorer was kept on by the left back. The only difference is that the goal scorer was Christian Ramirez and Orlando’s lagging defender was PC. Based on this evidence, it’s clear Kreis needs to run some drills where they practice the offside trap. Either that or they could just throw out that strategy completely.
Lady Luck Hit Orlando City Hard
This is a pretty straight forward one. Lions fans tend to play this card a little too often, but on this stretch I think they have a point. There were many cases where Orlando City was just plain unlucky, but I’ll just name two. One was the way the ball ended up perfectly at Wondo’s feet for a tap-in, robbing Orlando of a really great road win. My second example is the penalty that NYCFC was handed early on in that game. To be fair, I don’t know what Kaká’s arm was doing that far out, but it still was really harsh for a penalty to be called when the ball was coming from such a close distance. Referee Mark Geiger allowed a similar play without a penalty the following week when Chad Marshall handled the ball against Portland.
Lack of Scoring From Non-Larin Players
This problem is one that has plagued the Lions throughout the entire season and continues. The fact is that if Larin doesn’t perform then the team can’t score that many goals. It seems that every time we’re looking for someone to step up and score a goal, Larin is the only option. Giles Barnes, who was brought in at the start of the season, has had his fair share of minutes and still hasn’t gotten a goal. Carlos Rivas has played the majority of minutes this season and only has two goals to his name. He also has several assists, but he still needs to step up and help out in the goal-scoring department. These are just two names, but the problem goes further to the rest of the midfield and attackers. Perhaps Kaká is the only one we can truly say is a secondary scoring option.
Lack of Scoring From Larin
Like I said before, when Cyle Larin doesn’t perform, no one else steps up. Keeping this in mind, it makes sense that in a period where he scored one goal in six games Orlando City hasn’t won. I’ve already talked about the supporting cast stepping up but what about Larin himself? It seems the Canadian wunderkind is simply out of form.
The sad part is that there is nothing we can do about it. In fact, Lions fans should have expected Larin to stop scoring sooner or later. No one can keep up a goal a game ratio for the whole season. The problem is, for Orlando City to be an elite team, the Lions kind of need those types of numbers. As for Larin, it’s safe to say that he’ll return to his usual goal scoring ways. I haven’t really seen anything fundamental that he’s been missing in this six-game stretch. He’s just simply been misfiring in front of goal.