The month of August is upon us, and after looking forward, we must now look back. I haven’t sat down yet to tally my current prediction percentage, and honestly, I don’t want to know right now. July was such a tumultuous month, I honestly forgot my predictions. I made them some time ago, and I have zero qualms just sitting back and seeing where they fall, right or wrong.
Let’s jump right in and see how good that new crystal ball was in showing me the future. Again, this might be better with a nice single malt, so sit back, relax, enjoy that whisky, and here we go.
July 7 at Los Angeles Football Club
Prediction: 0-2 loss.
Actual: 4-1 loss.
So the prediction was unfortunately correct, but the magnitude of the prediction was off. In the first meeting between Orlando City and the new darling of MLS, it was going to be a tough match no matter what. It was also the second match in a row that the Lions gave up four goals. It certainly doesn’t help when your captain and center back, Jonathan Spector, goes out after 25 minutes. It also doesn’t help when three of the opposition goals can be directly attributed to errors by Lions leading to goals (two by Amro Tarek and one by Justin Meram). Let us not forget as well, this was Head Coach James O’Connor’s first match at the helm of Orlando City as well as the last match we would see Joe Bendik starting in goal.
July 14 vs. Toronto FC
Prediction: 3-1 City victory.
Actual: 2-1 victory.
Again, the clarity of the new crystal ball is evident, but maybe I was misinterpreting the magnitude. It was a very well played match from City, and saw Chris Schuler open his scoring account in the 34th minute, albeit being in the right place at the right time to get a clean head on the ball. Dom added to his account, scoring in the 48th. The Lions did well maintaining pressure, but eventually lost the clean sheet in the waning minutes of extra time.
Also of note, no Justin Meram in the 18, and Tony Rocha got a start.
July 18 at Philadelphia Union (U.S. Open Cup)
Prediction: 2-1 City victory.
Actual: 1-0 loss.
Tired legs, tired squad, and new center back starting in Shane O’Neill were the highlights of this U.S. Open Cup match. JOC sent out a strong XI, but the Lions were chasing an equalizer after just four minutes, and never were able to recover.
July 21 at Columbus Crew
Prediction: 2-2 draw.
Actual: 3-2 loss.
This is where some mass chaos and bewildered fans get created. I am honestly going to argue that we predicted this match correctly. I cannot put into words my feelings on this match any better than The Mane Land’s own Michael Citro
I’m sitting here typing and don’t really know how to put into words what I saw over the final minutes in Orlando City’s 3-2 loss to the Columbus Crew at Mapfre Stadium. Leading 2-1 with just a few minutes to see out, the Lions (7-12-1, 22 points) saw referee Silviu Petrescu call the softest of penalties to allow Gyasi Zardes to level the game in the 88th minute, then the Crew (9-7-6, 33 points) rode that momentum to score on a sure Goal-of-the-Week candidate by Wil Trapp in stoppage time to steal all three points.
MLS admitted that the penalty should not have been called, but then the Disciplinary Committee did not penalize Columbus’ Patrick Mullins for the obvious simulation that created the penalty call in the first place. That just deflated the Lions, and the rest is what it is.
July 26 vs. New York City FC
Prediction: 1-0 City victory, late goal.
Actual: 2-0 loss.
The tale of the goal post. It seemed as though the blessing of the goals with rosemary, an old match day tradition that may or may not still be practiced, worked against the Lions this night. More tired legs and a match that saw NYCFC complete the season sweep of the Lions. Yoshimar Yotún, starting up on the left mid, had multiple chances, and hit the woodwork twice. The philosophy and ideals on the pitch that O’Connor is bringing was beginning to show this match, regardless of the sting of the loss. New Lion O’Neill picked up a red card late in the match on a late challenge, and that pretty much sealed the fate of the scoreline for the night.
July 29 at LA Galaxy
Prediction: 2-1 loss in a tired match for both squads, but the home team trend continues.
Actual: 4-3 loss.
Although the prediction was somewhat correct, and unfortunate, this might have been one of the best performances, as well as most entertaining matches, for the Lions this season. O’Connor brought out an extremely interesting lineup, bringing Mohamed El-Munir up to the left midfield spot, while shifting Yoshi over to the right midfield slot. The match was everything you wanted to see, except points coming home with the Lions. Unfortunately, this night belonged to the Lion, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, although the goal in the 71st minute to put the Galaxy ahead, and give him a hat trick on the night, was a right place, right time goal. This match held a ton a positives, even through the struggle of another defeat.
The club moves forward, and so shall we. The next couple of months, although filled with some tough matches, appears a bit more forgiving than the previous couple of months. O’Connor is still feeling out the club, guys are getting healthy (hopefully), and the new staff is certainly doing their due diligence on players and positions. It will be interesting to see how August pans out, both in predictions, results, and the last few days of the Secondary Transfer Window.