As the season winds down, Orlando City took a road trip to New England for a match that could help, or hurt, one of the teams. After defending well for the first half, the Lions had another tough and heart breaking second half on the road in New England. Here are my five takeaways from the match.
Offense in Short Supply
With Dom Dwyer serving a card accumulation suspension, and Stefano Pinho out with injury, who was going to step up for the Lions in terms of offense? The short answer is no one. The off-season is going to have to deal with finding an offensive player not named Dwyer. The Lions had some of opportunities last night, but there was no one there to help take advantage. Josué Colmán is OK, but he is no striker, and it was apparent in this match that the Lions are woefully lacking in the striker department.
24th Back Line of the Season
At what point will this team have a solid back line to play match to match? I will not fault the back four, because, in my humble opinion, they played with their hearts on their sleeves. The problem is this is the 24th different back line played this season. The talent is there, but the consistency is not. This club will need a solid back line moving forward. I cannot think of a club that consistently plays at the top of its respective table with a wildly rotating cast of defense men.
DP Tag Misused
This club needs to take a hard look at who it has this tag on. Looking around the league, it is fairly obvious that City needs to reassess who and how to place this important tag. The teams above the red line are doing much better than the Lions are in terms of production from players with Designated Player tags, and hopefully the front office, and coaching staff are watching.
Speaking of Coaching Staff
I seriously do not envy Head Coach James O’Connor and his staff this off-season. There are so many tough choices to make. The squad that takes the pitch in match one of 2019 will look very different from anything we have seen in 2018. The club may be teetering on the precipice of something major, and that could be a stadium full of fans in paper bag masks, or finally fulfilling a promise from years ago and defying expectations, because the current expectations are not above the red line.
It’s Raining Goals
The club has another issue with goalkeepers. Only two keepers have had clean sheets this season in MLS play — Joe Bendik and Adam Grinwis. Earl Edwards Jr. has shown promise. So the club currently has two young keeps that have shown so much promise, and an MLS veteran that has moments of greatness, but may be slowing down. And let’s not forget the young guy who just told cancer to get bent.
It is difficult to figure out if the lineups are a function of availability, or if the coach is sending a message. I am honestly at a loss sometimes as to what is going on, as I personally do not believe that the players picked recently for the 18 are the players that show the most hustle that week in practice. There must be so many experiments and things going on behind closed doors that fans like us just need to take everything at this point with a grain of salt. As bitter a pill as it is, everything now must be gearing up for next season, right?