Orlando City, thanks to two bookend goals, garnered a point at home against the Philadelphia Union last night. With another rather dramatic starting XI from Head Coach James O’Connor, the Lions played with a bit more emotion last night, almost as if they are trying to salvage something in the final nine matches of this tumultuous season. Here are my five takeaways from the 2-2 draw with Philly.
Carlos Ascues is Making His Case
For the first time in his brief history with the Lions, Carlos Ascues was slotted into a center back position in the 4-2-3-1 next to Shane O’Neill. He did well in my book, although there were a few hiccups along the way. He has certainly made an extremely strong case for the club to keep him, and the chemistry that is already apparent on the field is a welcome change. I can only imagine how well he will slot into a defensive role after a full season of training.
Yoshi Has Already Made His Case
Yoshimar Yotún has been one of the absolute bright spots for the Lions this season. He certainly seemed to be playing with a slightly bigger chip on his shoulder last night. He was also a bit more “flamboyant” and was trying to help drive a little more creativity from the team. It also appears that he has found an instant chemistry with Ascues and Cristian Higuita, something I’ll be watching as we move forward in the waning minutes of this season.
O’Connor certainly is driving the squad to play from the back, which has created an interesting dilemma in which keeper to go forward with. Joe Bendik did not help to make his case last night in terms of play from the back. His distribution and choices created some trouble during the match. If this is the new plan for Orlando City, then the keeper coaches need to spend some quality time with Joe and work on his footwork.
Cardiac Cats are Back
Fans are used to this team leaving the fate of the day until the last minute, but how about shocking everyone with a ninth minute goal to take the lead? Knowing the defensive issues with this club currently, thinking about this club trying to hold a one-goal lead for 81 minutes is enough to bring the chest pains, but then to get that goal to pull even at home in the 91st minute is just cruel to our hearts, and voices, as I am sure that most of us are a little hoarse this morning.
For the first match in a while, the substitution choices worked. Too often this season, working with a depleted roster left some very difficult choices in place for substitutes. Josué Colmán, Chris Mueller, and Stéfano Pinho all came in at the right time, and had the impact that everyone wants to see, even if that impact is just an injection of some much-needed energy. It was Colmán’s cross to Scott Sutter in the 91st that set up the tying score.
These are a few of the things that stood out to me that I wanted to discuss with you. What were your main takeaways from the match? Let us know in the comments.