Well, they say “April showers bring May flowers.” In the case of Orlando City, it certainly showered wins in April, but the majority of flowers that bloomed in May were losses. It was going to be a tough month, but I don’t think anyone expected just how tough it was.
I doubt anyone thought that we would still be waiting for Jonathan Spector to return from concussion protocol, that Scott Sutter would still be recovering, and Dom Dwyer would go down with a knock. And that was only exacerbated with more injuries at center back and international absences.
All of that being said, let’s take a few moments to look back at how the predictions panned out. I am pretty sure that not only was I wrong, but that I was completely wrong. I have no problems admitting to failure, and will certainly learn from my mistakes in reading the tea leaves, but for now we can just take a few moments in retrospect at the month that was May.
May 6 vs. Real Salt Lake
Prediction: 2-0 Orlando City.
Actual: 3-1 Orlando City.
In another come-from-behind win, the Lions beat RSL in the early month home match. RSL struck first, but the Lions came back with a fury with goals from Dom Dwyer (assisted by Sacha Kljestan), Lamine Sané (assisted by Yoshimar Yotún), and Yoshi. This was also the beginning of more minutes for Oriol Rosell. Well, I said the boys would win by two, and they did. Unfortunately, as we all know, this is where things begin to far apart.
May 13 vs. Atlanta United FC
Prediction: 3-2 Orlando City in a very hard fought match.
Actual: 2-1 Atlanta.
Is it a rivalry yet? Honestly, if this match-up, and fan vitriol, continues as it has, this could very easily turn into one. Just look at the reactions around the the stadium in the waning moments of the match, and I am not just speaking of the incident involving cans, bottles, and cups being thrown on the pitch.
The Lions once again went down early, after an extremely soft penalty kick was awarded, and then Ezequiel Barco put another in the back of the net. Shortly after halftime, Justin Meram finally opened his account as a Lion, and Orlando kept the pressure on, but just could not find a way to get that second goal. This match turned out to be the last time Yoshi was available. His second-half yellow gave him an accumulated total of five, earning a one-match suspension. He, along with Amro Tarek, then left due to national team call-ups.
Four matches played between these two clubs, and Orlando still does not have a win. Two more opportunities this season.
May 18 at Toronto FC
Prediction: 2-2 draw.
Actual: 2-1 Toronto win.
Who could have thought the Lions would be travelling to Canada to face off against a Toronto team missing both Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco? This certainly should have helped, but as typical in MLS, picking up points on the road can be a daunting task. As we have all certainly become accustomed, the Lions fell behind first in this match, although in the second half. About 12 minutes later, Cristian Higuita scored a stunner of a goal to bring the Lions level. And just when it looked like the boys would bring a point home, the cruel hand of chance (actually Ryan Telfer) decided to snatch the tie away and send the Lions home with their second straight loss.
Online, people were beginning to panic, as players started to head off to national team camps, and the roster was stressed. The next match for Orlando City will show just how stressed the roster can get, with injuries and players gone.
May 26 vs. Chicago Fire
Prediction: 3-0 Orlando City.
Actual: 2-1 Chicago.
It would take longer to list the players not available to play than those available. The Lions hosted the Chicago Fire without Dwyer, Spector, Sané, Tarek, Sutter, and Will Johnson. Tony Rocha got his first start, paired up with Chris Shuler on the beat-up and depleted back line. Surprise, the Lions fell behind early, only to be brought back to life a few moments later by, surprise again, Higuita with his second on the season. Again, in the waning moments of the match, the visitors scored, a goal — this time from Alan Gordon assisted by Bastian Schweinsteiger.
It was the third straight loss in a row for the Lions, with a depleted roster, and a carousel at center back, and questions surrounding the return of too many starters. There have been some lights at the end of the tunnel. Josué Colmán is stating his case for not only more minutes, but a spot in the starting XI. Uri and Higuita are proving a great duo at defensive mid, and are going to make it extremely difficult for Head Coach Jason Kreis when Yoshi returns from World Cup 2018 duty. Mohamed El-Munir has been a fantastic addition at left back. This team needs to turn things around in June.