Another day, another frustrating Orlando City performance and result; this time against a rival team. The Lions fell to New York City FC in Orlando City Stadium, 2-0. This isn’t going to be a fun collection of takeaways, so brace yourselves, but I’ll do my best to give a positive spin here and there.
There’s a good bit to dissect, so let’s dive right in. Here are my five takeaways from the Lions’ 2-0 loss to the Pigeons.
The Lions Were Unlucky
There’s not much you can do about it, but hitting the woodwork four times in one match while everything else also seems to be going against you is really demoralizing, and the boys in purple were feeling it. Frustration set in during the second half, and the level of play dropped because of it. Shots were taken from further out in frustration, tackles were lacking, and heads hung low. O’Connor’s going to have to really pull a rabbit out of his hat in training to raise team morale after yet another disappointing and frustrating loss.
Shane O’Neill Continues to Impress, Then Sees Red
On a night full of disappointment, the play of newly signed center back Shane O’Neill was one bright spot that Lions supporters can take home with them. His marking was strong and his tenacious tracking back of the Pigeons’ streaking wingers was phenomenal to say the least. Unfortunately for the Irish-American defender, video review turned his late yellow card into a red, and that does put a bit of an asterisk on this takeaway. He truly deserved the sending off. One last minor takeaway here, if you want to be an optimist, is that he was recently scouted, meaning maybe the front office in Orlando is finally starting to target players that will find success in the City Beautiful.
The Lions’ Defense is Struggling... Badly
It’s painfully obvious. Without the typical starting center back pairing of Jonathan Spector and Lamine Sane, the Lions are stretched extremely thin on the back line — a back line lacking in pace and cohesion. Chris Schuler almost gave away an awful goal from an errant touch that turned into a breakaway for New York, but fortunately Earl Edwards Jr. was up to the task...twice. New York’s best striker, David Villa, wasn’t even on the pitch for this one. Imagine if he had been. And while O’Neill continues to impress, he was sent off and won’t be available this weekend in Los Angeles. I’m not sure what the back line will look like come Sunday, but it most certainly won’t be pretty.
Chris Mueller’s Play Disheartening, Energy Appreciated
Chris Mueller had a specifically frustrating night in my eyes. I couldn’t count the number of times the ball was played to his feet only for him to lose it on a poor few touches. Again, to offer a silver lining, I think that these types of matches and singular performances galvanize a young player like Mueller, and should O’Connor hand him the start on the weekend, I forecast a strong bounce back performance for the rookie striker. Another silver lining? His level of energy, passion, and his pace can be an incredible asset to this team. I really look forward to his next performance.
There’s Still Time
This is the positivity in me oozing, but there are still 13 regular season MLS matches left. The Lions have been streaky this season, both good and bad. So there’s still a chance that O’Connor tinkers and the boys in purple pull together and make a strong push through the finale of the season. The supporters should be fully behind the club, new head coach, and players during these trying times. This was still a match that saw four Orlando shots ricochet off of the woodwork. It wasn’t that far out of reach. So, Mane Landers, remain positive. There’s still time.
That’s what I took away from the Lions’ match against NYCFC. What did you see? Let us know by commenting below!