Orlando City SC went on the road for the first time in 2018 against New York City FC and a couple of defensive mistakes sent the Lions home with a 2-0 defeat. The match marked the debut of three new players for Orlando City, but the final score left both them and the fans upset.
Here are our takeaways of the match at Yankee Stadium:
Turnovers Seal the Result
Orlando City was playing a decent road match until the middle of the second half, when a pair of defensive giveaways robbed the Lions of the chance to take any points home. In the first, Yoshimar Yotún tried a risky back pass to goalkeeper Joe Bendik, who failed to get rid of the ball and shot it right to Ismael Tajouri’s feet inside the box. A few minutes later, debuting midfielder Sacha Kljestan turned the ball over to Saad Abdul-Salaam a few seconds before Maxi Moralez found the back of the net. There’s a lot to be fixed, but not turning the ball over in the defensive third seems to be priority number one right now.
As mentioned in the previous paragraph, Kljestan, one of the main signings made by Orlando City during the off-season, finally debuted for the Lions after finishing the suspension he picked up last season when he still played for the New York Red Bulls. As expected, he was the center piece of Orlando’s offense, ranking second among his teammates in both passes (42) and passing accuracy (85.7%) according to WhoScored.com. However, his turnover on NYCFC’s second goal made his debut end in a frustrating way.
Sané and Colmán Looked Good in Debuts
Another player to wear purple for the first time was defender Lamine Sané. The Senegalese international came to the game right after halftime, but his much-anticipated center back partnership with Jonathan Spector will have to wait, as he replaced the captain, who left the game after a head injury. On his first 45 minutes with the Lions, Sané had a positive display, with four interceptions, three tackles and three clearances. The other debutant of the day was midfielder Josué Colmán, who played only in the last 15 minutes, but created a good chance for the Lions.
Lions Lose the Possession Battle
Playing on the road for the first time in the season, the Lions changed their style to face NYCFC at the Yankee Stadium. The team that had dominated possession and controlled the pace of the game against both D.C. United and Minnesota United was out-possessed by the hosts, having the ball for only 41% of the time. Some players had a frustrating passing game in New York, such as Justin Meram (53.3%) and Chris Mueller (61.9%).
A Rough Start of Season
With only one point won in three matches, with two of the games at home, Orlando City is having its worst start of the season since it debuted in MLS in 2015. The Lions obviously went through a massive rebuild of their roster in the off-season and it was expected that it would take them some time to settle. Some of the new signings and star striker Dom Dwyer are yet to start playing, but it’s important that the team finds its way soon or it could have to make up for a huge points difference early in the season.