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Orlando City at LAFC: Five Takeaways

What did the Lions’ ninth straight defeat show us?

MLS: Orlando City SC at Los Angeles FC Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando City SC’s struggles continue at full pace as the Lions reached the unpleasant mark of nine straight defeats as the team was taken down by Los Angeles FC, 4-1 on Saturday night in California. It was the first match under new head coach James O’Connor and also the first meeting with the expansion franchise, but the Lions showed some old issues and couldn’t keep up with the hosts’ dynamism during the game.

Here are our five takeaways of the match.

O’Connor’s First Starting Lineup has Changes

O’Connor commanded the Lions in the field for the first time since his arrival and his first starting lineup had quite a few changes. The Irishman abandoned the 3-4-3 system used by interim head coach Bobby Murphy and switched to a 4-2-3-1 formation with Josué Colmán and Chris Mueller in the wings, Donny Toia at the left back spot and Yoshimar Yotun and Uri Rosell in center midfield.

Yotún Returns with Average Performance

The Peruvian, by the way, returned to the Lions after missing seven matches as he was playing for his national team in the World Cup. On his first match back, Yoshimar Yotún was decent but not spectacular, connecting just 75.6 percent of his passes, firing one shot, and recording two tackles. He has already proven to be a key piece for the team and the Lions will need better performances from in the coming weeks to turn things around.

Back-to-Back Goals Ruin Orlando’s Night

The 4-1 score line might suggest a complete dominance of Los Angeles FC but that wasn’t exactly the case. The Californians had a massive advantage in possession (63.2% vs 36.8%), but the number of shots (19 vs 14) and shots on target (13 vs 9) suggest a more even match. In fact, Orlando’s main sin in the game was not being able to handle LAFC’s good moments in the match as the Lions conceded two goals in a very short period of time twice, first at the 28th and 32nd minutes, and later at the 82nd and 84th minutes.

Defense Continues to Struggle

At least half of the goals scored by the hosts were a result of clear mistakes of Orlando City’s back line. The team’s defense has struggled for a while as it conceded 18 goals over the Lions’ last five MLS games. Last night, Amro Tarek was responsible for at least two goals as he failed to clear the ball on the first and turned the ball over just outside the penalty box on the last of LAFC’s goals.

Unlucky Spector is Injured Again

To make things even worse from a defensive standpoint, Jonathan Spector’s unfortunate 2018 season continued as the defender left the field at the 25th minute due to a hamstring injury. It was shortly after his departure that LAFC scored its first two goals. The captain has already missed most of Orlando City’s season so far, after having been sidelined for 10 matches between March and June because of a concussion. With another injury plaguing the center back, he could be unavailable for some more time as he recovers.