Orlando City (7-18-3, 24 points) has had some poor performances this year, but the 90 minutes in Bridgeview, IL were perhaps the worst of the season. There was no energy, no chemistry, everything was two steps too slow, and Orlando City’s players looked like they did not want to be out on the field in a 4-0 loss at Toyota Park. It was the Lions’ 11th consecutive road loss.
The Chicago Fire (7-15-6, 27 points), on the other hand, looked like a team fighting to make the playoffs. Although not mathematically eliminated, the Fire, as well as Orlando, will not be making the postseason but they put together a complete performance and thoroughly deserved the three points.
Orlando City Head Coach James O’Connor made a few surprises to the 18 today. Earl Edwards, Jr. and Cristian Higuita (calf strain) both were not in, and instead the Irishman went with Adam Grinwis to backup Joe Bendik in net. Yoshimar Yotún returned to the starting lineup and finished with 82% passing accuracy, one shot, and three key passes.
It didn’t take long for Orlando City to fall behind. The Fire won an early set piece and left Bastian Schweinsteiger wide open on the back post. Luckily, Bendik was able to make the save. On the ensuing corner, Uri Rosell cleared it but then Josúe Colmán tried a back heel and turned it over to Dax McCarty. This led to some awful defending and Nemanja Nikolic put it in the back of the net to put Chicago up 1-0 in just the third minute.
The game was largely played in the middle of the field for the next 20 minutes. Chicago was the better team and Orlando didn’t really have any good chances on goal.
Then, in the 28th minute, Bendik gift wrapped a goal for the Fire. He received a back pass, took a pathetically poor first touch and turned it over. He compounded the problem by chasing it out of the penalty area. Djordje Mihailovic picked it up and fed Aleksandar Katai, who had no difficulty at making it 2-0, passing the ball into the empty net.
Orlando City finished the first half with no shots on goal (on four attempts), just 43% possession, and zero energy. Chicago did whatever it wanted. Dom Dwyer got three shots off, but none of them were on goal.
O’Connor tried to change something at halftime and brought in Chris Mueller for Shane O’Neill to start the second 45. Mueller brought an energy to the team that was nonexistent prior to his entrance, and not reciprocated by many of his teammates. Still, he failed to register a single shot and had just a 68% passing accuracy.
The Lions had a corner in the 53rd minute but the Fire had no difficulty in defending it. Yoshi’s service was good but there were no runs being made in the box so it was a training ground clearance for Chicago.
The home team then went right down the field, won a corner, and showed Orlando City how to take it. A ball to the far side of the area found Michael de Leeuw, who got around the poor defending of Carlos Ascues and passed it through Mohamed El-Munir and into the back of the net to put the Fire up 3-0.
Dwyer should have put at least one on the board. In the 64th minute, he had a breakaway after a perfect ball from Yotún but he hit it directly at Richard Sánchez and a donut remained on the Lions’ side of the scoreboard.
Immediately after coming on the field, Pierre Da Silva passed the ball lazily back to Yotún. As Yoshi sat back and waited for it, Raheem Edwards was first to the ball, went on a 2-v-1 attack against Jonathan Spector, and played to a wide open Nikolic. Chicago went up 4-0, after the Serbian beat Bendik in the 70th minute.
At that point, the minimal amount of energy that Orlando City had was lost as the Fire completed the rout. This game was seemingly over before it began and Orlando never had a chance at winning. The individuals on this team clearly are skilled but it was not on display tonight and the Lions got outclassed.
Orlando City returns to action again on Saturday when the Lions host the Houston Dynamo at 7:30 p.m. ET.