You may have (regretfully) heard by now that Orlando City was drubbed over the weekend in New England, dropping a 4-0 game on the road to the Revolution to fall further out of playoff contention while showing next to no fight in the process. This match was never supposed to happen in early September, however. Winter Storm Reggie postponed the match from its originally scheduled date of March 11, which would’ve been the Lions’ first road contest of the 2017 season.
Now, Boston received an inch of snow from Reggie, and pleasantries like lake-effect snow and bitterly cold air also accompanied the storm — things that certainly wouldn’t have made playing a match on that fateful March afternoon very fun, especially for a team whose only contributing players at the time from the Great White North were Canadians Cyle Larin and Will Johnson and New York native Joe Bendik. It’s easy to envision the rest of a roster heavily comprised of South American talent struggling to acclimate to such conditions had that match gone on as scheduled.
However, from a form standpoint, it’s tough to argue that the Lions couldn’t have possibly fared any worse than they did on the weekend in a four-goal blowout loss in which they probably wouldn’t have minded having some snow to help neutralize Kei Kamara’s effectiveness to a degree.
Back in March, Orlando City was fresh off a season-opening, stadium-christening 1-0 win against one of the Eastern Conference’s best sides in NYCFC. It was the first of several impressive defensive performances from a revamped back line that saw the Lions win six of their first seven matches of the season and storm to the top of the Eastern Conference table. It’s pretty easy to believe that City would’ve managed a better performance had that game gone down in March, back when its cornerstone offensive piece, Larin, was fresh off a game-winning goal vs. NYC and a week before he’d go on to net a brace against Philadelphia in Orlando’s next match.
Larin now has only netted twice since the end of May and had his form thrown out of wack by a self-inflicted setback in the form of a DUI suspension. While Orlando has added a prolific striker in the months since, Dom Dwyer has yet to open his account for the Lions on eight shots through six appearances, and he and strike partner Carlos Rivas were ineffective on Saturday in Larin’s international duty absence.
Orlando was playing without Kaká in March following his hamstring injury early in the NYC win, but the club’s results weren’t suffering at the time despite that fact. The Lions wound up heading to New England this past weekend winless in their last seven matches, a streak that’s now been extended, and barely holding on to their playoff chances before the embarrassing defeat.
Jonathan Spector, who missed last weekend’s match, was providing inspiration at the back, while the veteran Johnson was emerging as the team’s on-field emotional leader, making this week’s arrest puzzling and beyond disappointing. City’s center back pairing of Leo Pereira and Jose Aja were not good last weekend (as you’d expect after the side conceded four goals), and the days of gritty defensive performances inspiring wins seem like a long, long time ago as Orlando spirals towards another missed postseason down the final stretch of the regular season.
So while Orlando City, which lost its first road match of the year at Columbus and would go winless away from home for six straight games after an April win at NYC, hasn’t been very good on the road this year and very well could’ve dropped all three points on March 11 just as they did on Sept. 2, they seemed a heckuva lot more likely to scrape a point or three out of that match six months ago than they did this past weekend.
It would not have ultimately changed much in the table given Orlando’s overall road form and current run of futility, but the Lions’ early season explosion to the top of the table makes it hard to wonder if they wouldn’t have managed a result back in March, sans Reggie.