Orlando City SC’s second home match in the 2018 MLS season was not one to celebrate, as the Lions were taken down by Minnesota United, 2-1 last night. However, as in any other match, there are positive and negative lessons to be learned and here are our five takeaways.
Finlay’s Movement too Much for Orlando’s Defense
Ethan Finlay has not been a notorious scorer in his MLS career, registering 36 goals in 170 matches, but the winger’s movement was too much for Orlando’s defense to handle last night. On the first goal, he combined with Kevin Molino for a simple give-and-go play that left three Orlando defenders static. On the second, he used his speed to outpace Mohamed El-Munir and tap Miguel Ibarra’s cross inside the far post to the back of the net. The Lions gave Finlay way too much space and that was all he needed to put the team in trouble.
Laryea Replaces PC
Richie Laryea was Jason Kreis’ choice to replace the suspended Victor ‘PC’ Giro and he showed he can be a decent option for the team down the road. The Canadian got the second start of his career — the first in 2018 — and had positives in his game, such as his 90.5% passing efficiency and his effort to draw the penalty kick that generated Orlando’s goal. But he also showed some inconsistency and immaturity by getting a silly yellow card early in the second half for kicking the ball away after a whistle. He was later replaced by Tony Rocha and left the fans expecting for more from him in the season.
Meram Struggles, but Persists
Without Sacha Kljestan, Dom Dwyer and Josué Colmán, Justin Meram has been the centerpiece of Orlando’s offense. He obviously didn’t have the best of nights against Minnesota, turning the ball over way too much and failing to connect key passes in the final third of the field, but the winger never stopped trying to push the Lions forward, moving everywhere around the box and recording seven of the team’s 20 shots.
Molino’s Return Lasts 50 Minutes
Molino’s return to Orlando to face the Lions for the first time after six years with the club was one of the main story lines of the match, but it didn’t last long. Near the 50-minute mark the Trinidadian injured his left knee when he tried to pressure El-Munir close to the sideline and had to leave the field, being replaced by Collen Warner. During his time on the field, Molino was one of the most active players for Minnesota, providing the assist for Finlay’s first goal.
Possession-heavy Style on Display Again
For the second straight week, Orlando City controlled the pace of the match and dominated possession, having the ball for 58.8% of the time against Minnesota. This seems to be the team’s style in 2018, but next week, when the Lions go on the road for the first time in the season to face New York City, we’ll have a better idea if Jason Kreis and his players will be able to maintain the same style when they play as visitors. Having Sacha Kljestan cleared to play should help, though.