After three months of failure, Orlando City has finally won another game. It took two penalties to do it, including a last ditch tumble by Chris Mueller, but conversions by Yoshi Yotún and Sacha Kljestan provided the goals in the Lions’ 2-1 win over the Columbus Crew. Here are five takeaways from the final home game of the 2018 MLS season.
Yoshimar Yotún is the MVP of Orlando City
In case it wasn’t already obvious, there are two Orlando City teams: one with Yotún and one without Yotún. The Lions looked much more dangerous yesterday with the Peruvian midfielder back in the lineup after he missed the previous two games while on international duty. Named as the Man of the Match, Yotún provided a great deal towards the Lions attack and was a large part of Orlando City coming away with its first win in three months.
Orlando City Likes to Shoot from Distance
The Lions noticeably took many shots from distance against Columbus, something that hasn’t been the case this season. Too often this season, players refused to shoot from distance and instead, carried the ball into the box, where it would be lost. Yesterday, the Lions forced Columbus goalkeeper Zack Steffen into some diving saves by taking shots from outside the box. Even though both goals came from penalties, it was good to see the team make the opposing goalkeeper work.
Orlando City Shows That Pressing Works
It’s become a habit this season for Orlando City to sit back defensively rather than putting pressure on the ball. The result has been that the opposition has been able to break the Lions down. Even when they have pressed, it too often has been one man rather than the team, allowing the opposition to easily play out of the situation. Yesterday, the team pressed together and forced the Crew into a few turnovers, something it should’ve been doing all year. Kljestan talked about the halftime adjustment of pressing more as a team after yesterday’s match.
“We just talked about if we wanted to press, that we had to do it all together,” he said. “There were early parts in the game when you maybe had the front four pressing, and the six behind, stayed back, creating way too many gaps and against a good passing team like Columbus, which has good spacing, good movement, you start to pick them apart so we were just running back and forth. I think in the second half, the times we decided to press and play higher up the field, it was more cohesive and it was a little bit more together. And then you saw guys start to build a confidence, so Shane O’Neill started to bring the ball forward in the opposition’s half and make things happen and drawing guys out so, yeah we didn’t play too tentative tonight which was fun to see.”
Trouble Playing Through Kljestan
Kljestan was brought in this season for MLS experience and as a player the team could play through. That’s been a problem this season and was again against the Crew. It’s important to play through your number 10 in building the attack, but Kljestan gave the ball away too easily early in the game. He was only dispossessed once and had two bad touches, but he also had a howler of a back pass early in the first half that led to a scoring chance and his 79% passing accuracy against the Crew will need to improve. It is noteworthy that as a No. 10, he was asked to play in a midfield with two wingbacks — Scott Sutter and Mohamed El-Munir — and two natural defensive midfielders — Yotún and Will Johnson — yesterday.
Orlando City Must Find a Way to Win Fans Back
Any team in the world that struggles as badly as Orlando City has this season will have trouble filling seats. After all, who wants to go to the stadium every week and see their team lose? Orlando City’s trouble drawing fans has been apparent late this season but was more so against the Crew. The Wall was only about half full and there were large portions of the stadium in purple. Despite there being 23,642 tickets being sold and distributed, many went unused. Now that the 2018 home schedule is complete, ownership must work both on and off the field to win back the fans to fill their beautiful stadium.
It’s been a long season full of bad losses, but Orlando City finished off the home campaign with a good win for its loyal fans. This is what I took away from the team’s 2-1 win over the Columbus Crew. Let us know how you saw the game.