Orlando City has had a rough time on the road this season, and the Lions have only ever been able to pull a draw with Real Salt Lake the two times they’ve played. Well, the Lions ended up pulling out the win this time, and we have the five most important takeaways from the match below.
Cyle Larin Returns
No, Cyle didn’t score. But, don’t think that he didn’t have an impact on the game. His very presence meant the opposing team had to take him into consideration. Given his size, skill set, and honestly his soft touch (which he demonstrated multiple times in the match), mean that he’s someone that has to be respected. Welcome back, Cyle.
Midfield Wasn’t Great
Kaká and the rest of the midfield gave away too many passes and chances. Orlando seemed to stay with the long ball and the counter attack against Real Salt Lake. Not that is wasn’t ultimately effective, but the Lions gave up too many chances in the center of the field to be happy. Add to that, Antonio Nocerino coming out due to injury, and Kaká coming out for...reasons, and it became an even bigger deal.
Defense Bends but Doesn’t Break
At the start of the game, the defensive line appeared to get caught skewing high up the field. While that’s not a problem usually, the back line has gotten beaten by attackers getting in behind in recent games. While RSL got shots and breaks, and seemed to get behind the Orlando City defense again and again, it was mostly out wide and the goals never materialized. The back line, and indeed the rest of the team, did a great job of crashing on the goal to make sure that any opportunities for Real Salt Lake did not come to fruition. Despite good passes from RSL, Orlando was able to defend the entire night.
There were a couple of times that Joe Bendik had to make or break the game. It’s something that we’ve become accustomed to, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t do the job. At the same time, Will Johnson did what’s he’s done all season — he led by example. He played on the right side of Jason Kreis’ diamond, even when it looked flat. He played defense when needed and he pushed forward to help the attack. Most importantly, in this match, he was there to get the bounce off the crossbar to put home the only goal of the game.
Third Time’s the Charm
Yes, they stole one point in Seattle. Yes, they got beat down in Chicago. But guess what? The Lions were able to pull all three points in Utah. That’s right — the second road win of the season, and in the former home of Kreis. There’s no reason to be unhappy with that result, as the Lions head back to Orlando City Stadium to to take on Toronto FC. Four points in three road games is nothing to cry about.
Well there are our five takeaways, but was there something else you saw? Let us know in the comments below.