This one hurt on so many levels. With a chance at home to gain some ground on an Eastern Conference foe, one that is sitting in sixth place, the Lions came back twice to at least garner a point at home. This was certainly not a pretty match. In fact, it was pretty tough to watch at times, but a point is a point and it is easily better than what could have happened. Here are five takeaways from my vantage point, high atop section 120 from the match.
Yoshi is Amazing
I will go out on a limb here, albeit a very strong limb that I am not expecting many to try to break, that Yoshimar Yotún is the best player that the Lions have had. No disrespect to any of the other players on the roster, but Yoshi has been the best player for the club this year and showed it again tonight. It would seem that scouting reports around MLS also understand this as the past two matches he seems to have a bulls eye on his back. From the opening whistle, it was obvious that the New England Revolution defense was told to be very physical with him and not give him space. He had three assists in the match, so the Revs’ plan didn’t completely work, but they certainly tried.
The Experiment on the Left Isn’t Working
Having Mohamed El-Munir on the left will always work, and moving him to the left midfield position has been an extremely good move, but having Victor Giro at left back has left many shaking their heads. He was out of position numerous times, which is probably just a byproduct of lack of minutes in the starting XI. You can see the thoughts, you can see the expectations, but a club at this level needs more consistency in its starting players. The passes and runs should be there, but they still aren’t. El-Mo in mid is a great move, but he needs someone consistent behind him in the left back spot (Yoshi maybe).
Dom Needs Help
I have a feeling this will be repeated over and over, week after week, for some time. The club needs to find someone to pair up with Dom up top to help relieve the pressure he is constantly under. Clubs have scouted Orlando City, and they know that Dom will be alone up top, so what do they do? They basically have him double teamed by two center backs. Sure, Dom is pretty good at finding channels and seams, and getting himself into good positions to counter this, but can you imagine how dangerous he would be if there was just one more scoring threat on the pitch for the Lions in the run of play?
Individual Errors are Far Too Many
Again tonight, like so many other nights for the Lions this season and seasons past, individual errors in the first third of the pitch have cost the squad dearly. The Revs used a very high press, something that is becoming quite common in play, and it worked. What is the biggest contributing factor to those individual errors? Lack of consistency. I firmly believe that the lack of a consistent starting back line is the biggest factor in many of the goals conceded this season. It’s one thing James O’Connor will need to fix, and fix quickly.
Playoffs? What Playoffs?
Although mathematically not eliminated yet, the serious chances of seeing the Lions make it above the red line took a drastic hit with the draw. It looks like the club is in for another rebuild of sorts, and O’Connor has some work cut out for him. Again, the fans find themselves looking at a club that has yet to “defy expectations,” a third coach brought in right as the secondary transfer window opens, and a front office that believes that, at least in speaking to the public, has all the pieces need to succeed. I have yet to see that the pieces the club currently has are the ones to get the club to the playoffs for the first time in its brief MLS history, a history that is getting more and more troublesome by the week.
I hoped that this would be a week of play like the Los Angeles match, but it most certainly was not. The Lions were lucky to get a point out of this match. Also, I am not one to give into conspiracy theories (yes we landed on the moon, Russian number stations are real, Elvis does not run an ice cream shop in Alabama), but seeing a match reffed as this one was, and seeing that New England was called for over twice as many fouls as City, but only shown one card, versus the four (three yellow and one red) shown to Orlando is disturbing. I certainly hope PRO reviews the match, sees that Dom was onside, and the club appeals the red.