Orlando City headed into Talen Energy Stadium to take on the Philadelphia Union in the quarterfinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The Union were coming off a 1-0 friendly win against Bundesliga side Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday, in which most of their starters saw 30-45 minutes of action. That, coupled with not having to travel and being at home, gave the Union a big advantage heading into last night’s game and they took full advantage. Orlando City finally broke its nine-game losing streak by beating Toronto FC on Saturday but couldn’t ride that momentum into the tournament’s semifinals.
Let’s take a look at what we learned from the match.
Going Down Early
A fourth-minute strike by Alejandro Bedoya off a corner kick put the Lions down early, as they have been so often this season. It might not have been so bad, except that Dom Dwyer was marked and frustrated the entire match, getting very few chances at an equalizer. The Union were obviously the team with more legs, and as such they were able to keep an eye on Dom while still pressing their attack. Goals change games, and having the lead that early worked in the Union’s favor.
O’Neill Impresses in Debut
Recently signed center back Shane O’Neill made his Orlando City debut in last night’s match and performed well. Although there were one or two minor missteps that you’d expect from a player’s first game with a new team, he may have been Orlando’s Man of the Match. A good example of his solid play came in the 20th minute, when O’Neill was left to defend Cory Burke one on one in the penalty area. The new Lion did well to separate Burke from the ball without fouling, then shielded it for Earl Edwards Jr. (more on him below) to come and collect it. O’Neill read much of the play well, won some important challenges, and showed quite a bit of promise in his debut.
The Landlord is in the House
Edwards got the start for the second game in a row. He acquitted himself well in the win against Toronto, and despite the early goal, played well against the Union. There was nothing he could have done on the first goal, as the ball bounced to Bedoya perfectly for the easy goal after Edwards had made a good reaction save to deny Fafa Picault’s header. After that, Edwards did well to keep the Union from adding to their lead, and kept Orlando in the match with eight saves on the night.
Second Half Subs
O’Connor was certainly aware of the upcoming games, as he subbed off Chris Mueller for Dillon Powers to start the second half. In the 60th minute, Stefano Pinho came in for Josué Colmán, and in the 70th minute Uri Rosell made way for rookie Cam Lindley. O’Connor spread out the substitutions across the positions as best as he could while still trying to get back into the match. Some might question taking off Mueller at the half, given that the rookie had been getting some good passes into the box and generally doing the good job he seems to do every game.
“He had a bit of a kick on his calf but I felt that he was one of the ones who looked tired,” O’Connor said after the match. “To be fair to him he had a lot of energy in the game at the weekend. I think to be honest he looked as if he was showing signs of that. A few of them did to be honest. I did not expect to see that, that level of tiredness to be honest with you. Again that is something we are going to have to look at.”
One interesting note is that Sacha Kljestan was not subbed off despite being 32 years old. You’ll have to wonder how much he’ll have for Saturday.
Only One Thing to Play for Now
Unfortunately, Orlando City will not be moving on in Open Cup play, and as such, all that is left is the regular season. As mentioned earlier, Orlando has a tough stretch of games coming up, but how it navigates those matches may well determine the season. There are going to be those that say O’Connor should have focused on winning the match against Philadelphia and sacrificed the regular season. However, Philly was in a better position to win this match, and it showed. Be grateful the Lions made the quarterfinals, and concentrate on the regular season. What choice do you have?
That’s going to do it for my five takeaways from the Philadelphia game. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.