The last few weeks have been a struggle for Orlando City SC in Major League Soccer. Three straight 2-1 losses to Atlanta United, Toronto FC, and Chicago Fire have put the Lions in a tough spot, especially considering that the team is set to face three road games in 11 days in the next couple of weeks.
Winning games is obviously a team effort, but the Lions have invested a good chunk of money when building their roster for the 2018 season and when the team goes through a tough moment as this one, the franchise expects some high-profile players to make a difference.
That has not been the case over the last few matches and here are some players who need to give more to get Orlando out of this complicated spot.
Two goals and four assists in 10 matches are not numbers for Sacha Kljestan to be ashamed of, but when you realize that none of them happened in the last three games it gets easier to understand Orlando’s recent limited offensive efficiency.
The veteran is a central piece in Head Coach Jason Kreis’ system and most of the team’s offensive power comes through him, especially with Dom Dwyer sidelined. The Lions need Sacha at his best, mainly in matches like these, and, as one of the leaders of the roster, the midfielder also has an important task in keeping his teammates’ morale high.
Justin Meram has never been a volume goal scorer in MLS, but he scored 13 goals in 2017 and he seems way too far from a similar production this season. The winger scored his first goal for the Lions against Atlanta, but after that he didn’t record any goals or assists.
With Dwyer sidelined, the Lions need at least one of its offensive pieces to step up and absorb part of the team’s goal scoring responsibility and with Kljestan’s profile and Chris Mueller being a rookie, the Iraqi international is certainly the most suited for the role.
Don’t get me wrong, in no way, shape or form Joe Bendik has been the responsible for Orlando City’s recent struggles. However, when a team is going through a tough moment and it can get a few points here and there because of big-time saves from its shot-stopper, that’s huge.
The Lions’ back line is going through a complicated moment with several players sidelined and the only way to make up for this situation is with Bendik showing his best game. From the last six goals the Lions conceded, at least two were avoidable and if Orlando had gotten a point or two out of these games, the scenario would certainly be better.