I learned a new term that I thought I would share with everyone, Kellerduell (thanks, Claas). The loose translation of this German word is basement duel, a fairly good descriptor of the road match for Orlando City as it traveled to face the Chicago Fire, the loser cementing its stance as bottom of the Eastern Conference and bottom three in the league. Unfortunately, that loser ended up being Orlando City, and it wasn’t even by narrow margins as the Lions were beaten 4-0 by the Fire. Here are my five takeaways from the match.
Absolutely No Cohesion or Energy
For the first 30 minutes of the match, there did not appear to be any fire or desire from the boys in purple. Individually, there are players making runs, making attempts, but with very few exceptions, the majority of effort on the pitch was short bursts of individual effort. The team rarely looked like a cohesive unit.
Bendik’s Struggles Continue
With what I believe will be the plan moving forward, the team will be playing out of the back as much as possible. This is something that is becoming more and more prevalent in football across the globe and is being done by many teams in MLS very successfully. This requires a nimble keeper with good feet, and so far, this is not Joe Bendik. The heavy touch that led to losing possession in the box and Aleksandar Katai scoring the second goal for the Fire spoke volumes, among other aspects of the performance.
A Tale of Two Lions
Josué Colmán and Chris Mueller, two of the younger Lions on the team, showed two very different stories during this match. Mueller is a spark plug, yelling, grinding, calling for the ball, and running to regain possession if he loses it. Colmán, the team’s Young Designated Player, has played a total of just over 900 minutes, of which only three have been from playing full matches. He has shown moments of brilliance, but then the inexperience and lack of minutes takes hold again. The club will certainly need to work with them both, but needs to seriously reconsider that DP tag on Colman, because he hasn’t shown that level of play to date. Meanwhile, Mueller just keeps playing like he has a chip on his shoulder, and with that “never say die” attitude he always brings to the pitch.
More of This is Coming
If this is the attitude that the current roster is planning on bringing to the pitch for the remainder of the season to just “ride out” the season, it is going to be an ugly last six matches to close out 2018. Whatever issues or poisonous personalities still remain, Head Coach James O’Connor needs to rein it in. Assuming it is not one of the key veterans, they need to help address the issues within the locker room and find a way to end this season with at least something to look forward to next year.
The Front Office Needs to Be Watching
This is not O’Connor’s fault. There is a mentality and culture that has been built over the past few years in MLS and we witnessed it on full display during this match. Four years in MLS and this team has not made the playoffs, in fact, it is looking like the slide from year to year will continue (44 points in 2015, 41 points in 2016, 39 points in 2017). Based on O’Connor being the third coach in four years and the player turnover and acquisitions over the past two years, the front office needs to look at what the club is missing to help create a competitive side. Two of the three major cogs have been changed multiple times in the past few years, so maybe it is time for the front office to take a harder look internally. If this season and this loss to Chicago isn’t a catalyst for change, I don’t know what could be.
Those were my five takeaways from the crushing loss to the Chicago Fire. What did you takeaway from the match? Disagree with any of my takes? Let me hear about it in the comments.