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Orlando City vs. Chicago Fire: Five Takeaways

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What did the Lions’ third straight loss tell us?

MLS: Chicago Fire at Orlando City SC Matt Stamey-USA TODAY Sports

It was another disappointing outcome for Orlando City SC as the team dominated the Chicago Fire, but left Orlando City Stadium empty-handed following a 2-1 loss to the Illinois team. Missing several players, the Lions struggled to convert their opportunities and were punished by a long-distance shot from Alan Gordon late in the match that made the team suffer its third straight defeat.

What can we learn from the match?

A Season of Ups and Downs

Orlando City’s 2018 season can be divided in three clearly different portions. The team had early struggles in the starting weeks, collecting only one point from its first three matches, but it rebounded in great fashion with six straight victories. The setback against the Fire, however, was the third in a row for the Lions recently. If they can bounce back in style again, they’ll be fine, but if the inconsistency becomes a mark of the team in 2018, it could prove way too costly later in the season.

Dominance in Numbers, Not on the Scoreboard

A quick look at the stats without knowing the final score would suggest that Orlando has prevailed over Chicago comfortably. The Lions dominated their opponents in shots (21-10), shots on target (6-4) and ball possession (60.1%-39.9%), but couldn’t turn all this superiority into goals and ended up punished by two perfectly-placed long-range shots. In soccer, more important than dominating games is being efficient and this was a night where the Lions obviously couldn’t do it.

A Shorthanded Back Line

Head Coach Jason Kreis had a true puzzle to solve as he tried to put Orlando’s back line together for this match. The coach had only one of his usual starters available in left back Mohamed El-Munir. While RJ Allen was a capable replacement for Will Johnson at the right back spot, Kreis had to start the shaky Chris Schuler in central defense with a converted Tony Rocha. Kreis’ options could be even slimmer next week as Schuler broke his arm during the match and could miss some time.

Colmán a Striker?

With Dom Dwyer injured and Stefano Pinho failing to make up for his absence, Kreis tried an odd formation against Chicago with Josué Colmán playing in the striker role. Standing at 5-foot-6 and 156 pounds, the Paraguayan not only lacks the physical attributes to play up top but he also didn’t seem to be comfortable in the spot. The South American had some good moments, though, and can progress as an option for the position if he’s motivated to do so.

Higuita Finding His Goal-Scoring Touch

If Orlando’s strikers are struggling to find the back of the net, that hasn’t been a problem for Cristian Higuita lately. The Colombian, who had registered two goals for the Lions entering the 2018 season, scored his third in just eight matches this year against the Fire. The midfielder showed great composure inside the box and calmly fired from short range to score Orlando’s only goal in the match.