Orlando City’s drought against New York City FC (13-4-4, 43 points) has reached four games and the Lions have been outscored 10-0 after a 2-0 loss at Orlando City Stadium. OCSC (7-13-1) hit the woodwork multiple times but couldn’t get anything inside the perimeter of the goal frame, and conceded twice off first-half giveaways to continue the theme of matches against the club’s fellow 2015 expansion brethren.
“The biggest thing for me is I’ll never make excuses,” James O’Connor said after the game. “The easy thing for me to do is come out and say we’ve hit the post four times and there’s something to that, but equally, for me, there shouldn’t be a disparity between the first half and second half.
“When you look at the first half...I don’t think that’s what we want,” he continued. “Second half it’s a lot closer to what we’re looking at. We’re starting to get the intensity, we’re starting to do the things that we want to do with some lovely movement. Overall, throughout the 90 minutes there’s some lovely passages of play, but I’m serious, I want to win. And this is really frustrating for myself, for the staff, and for the players. We’re not just saying it. We want to win, and when you don’t win it’s really frustrating.”
O’Connor didn’t make many tweaks from the team that played against Columbus on Saturday.
New York tested Earl Edwards Jr. early and he passed the first test. Maxi Moralez broke in off a bad back pass from PC that Chris Schuler couldn’t handle. Moralez fired a shot that Edwards saved but it came right back to the NYC attacker and he got a second chance but Earl took that one off his foot to keep the game scoreless at the five-minute mark.
Orlando’s first good look came in the 18th minute when PC sneaked into the left side of the box and the ball found him, but his shot was blocked behind for a corner. New York City FC cleared the set piece cross but the Lions recycled the ball into the area and Yoshimar Yotún fired over the bar from a tight angle.
Jesus Medina’s free kick in the 27th minute nearly found its way in, but Edwards got a touch on it and sent it off the woodwork, bailing out Cristian Higuita, who had committed an unnecessary foul out near the right sideline.
The Lions’ best opportunity in the half came at the 38-minute mark when Yotún blasted a shot from distance that smashed off the crossbar. It ended up being a costly couple of inches for Orlando.
NYCFC got on the board off a weird pinball play when no one seemed able to get a good touch on the ball. PC ended up sending a clearance attempt off an attacking player and nearly put it into his own net. Edwards may have gotten just a touch on it to send it off the post but Moralez was the first to react to score the opener at the 40-minute mark.
Just as it looked like the Lions would trail 1-0 at the break, Yotún committed a costly turnover in the defensive half. Anton Tinnerholm roasted PC and fired just inside the far post to make it 2-0 at the break.
The visitors held 58% of the first-half possession, out-shot the Lions, 10-4 (5-0 on goal), and out-passed Orlando, 88%-76%
The game didn’t change much after halftime, except Orlando City held the ball better, spent more time in the attacking half, and hit the woodwork more often, ringing the posts/crossbar three more times in the second period.
Sacha Kljestan started the second half by passing up a shooting opportunity in the 47th minute, instead opting to pass the ball wide from the top of the area. That happened just before an ugly looking collision between Ben Sweat and RJ Allen but both players were able to continue on.
Yotún hit the right post in the 61st minute as Orlando again narrowly missed an opportunity to get on the board. It was a golden opportunity for the Peruvian, who slipped inside and just couldn’t beat the woodwork on the near side.
“We get them on the ropes but we can’t deliver that final punch,” Will Johnson said. “That’s just kind of where we are right now and we’re working toward being a little more like them and being more clinical.”
Two minutes later, Kljestan sent a gorgeous ball to spring Dom Dwyer in on goal but he had to take it with his right foot and Sean Johnson made the save.
A minute after Dom’s chance, Cristian Higuita headed wide and then was kicked and barrel rolled by Alexander Callens but nothing was given.
The Lions continued to chase the game and Schuler hit a shot off Sweat that caught the crossbar in the 78th minute. Four minutes later, Orlando City went down a man when Shane O’Neill — a bright spot again for most of the game — was late on a challenge and was sent off. He was initially booked by referee Robert Sibiga, but after consultation with the assistant referee, he pulled out the red card, so O’Neill will miss the match Sunday.
As the clock wound down, substitute Josué Colmán slipped into the box and fired a shot that Sweat again deflected onto the crossbar in the 89th minute. A minute later, New York City should have made it three goals on the night but Medina missed his sliding chance all alone at the back post.
The Lions evened up the possession in the second half, holding it for 57% after halftime and 49% for the match. City out-shot NYCFC for the game, 21-14 (5-5 on target), and an 85.4% passing rate in the second half allowed the Lions to end up at 81% for the game to New York City’s 87%.
“I think when you look at the performance in the first half and second half, it’s there for everyone to see,” O’Connor said. “The second half we came out and we had lots of opportunities and hit the crossbar whatever number of times. Big moments just don’t seem to be dropping for us but there shouldn’t be such a disparity in performance between the first and second half.”
“There’s opportunities to score goals in both halves and there’s opportunities to prevent both goals from happening and we didn’t do enough on either end of the spectrum, so you come away frustrated,” Johnson said.
The Lions will try to bounce back Sunday night on the road against the LA Galaxy.