Orlando City headed into the Big Apple for its second road contest of the season. Let’s be fair, there were few that gave the Lions the benefit of the doubt when it came to going on the road against the defending Supporters’ Shield winners, but James O’Connor’s squad was able to do the job. Here are my five takeaways from the match.
Brian Rowe Underrated
Brian Rowe has taken some grief so far this season because of the goals given up. However, if you go back and look, he had the second most saves in MLS through the third match. You only get that if there are a bunch of on-target shots coming at you. While Rowe did let three through last match, he stopped eight and disrupted more than that. Rowe had a few important saves in the beginning of last night’s match to keep Orlando City in the game, and dealt with the home side’s attack. He didn’t do anything flashy, but he was consistent and exactly what the Lions needed on the road.
Once again there were some giveaways that made no sense. Some happened in the defensive end of the field, and others in the midfield. This is something that has haunted Orlando City so far this season as well as in seasons past. Fortunately, those giveaways did not harm Orlando City this time. Despite the early mishaps, Orlando City was able to survive the initial Red Bulls onslaught and their own miscues to win the match.
Not Pretty, but Who Cares?
This was not a pretty game on either side. Orlando City in particular looked haphazard much of the time, but I think some of that was by design. I think O’Connor wanted to disrupt the New York Red Bulls any way possible, and sent his team to do just that. The team didn’t win possession, didn’t win passing percentage, didn’t win many of the 50/50 balls, and didn’t win much of anything else. Except the game. The Lions did win the game, and an ugly win is better than a pretty loss any day of the week.
Sacha Kljestan Proves His Worth
So far this season, there’s been a whole lot of shade sent Kljestan’s way, and a lot of it for last season’s play. He’s been better this season under O’Connor, and he definitely showed it against his former team in New York. Kljestan not only scored Orlando City’s winning goal, but he did well in passing and contributing to O’Connor’s plan to disrupt the Red Bulls’ attack, leading the team in touches. Well done, Mustache.
Points are hard to come by for Orlando City. Road points are even harder to come by. To get three points from an Eastern Conference opponent on the road is incredibly important. I addressed some of the reasons above as to why the Lions were able to leave New York with the win, but let’s focus on the fact that they did just that. For listeners of the PawedCast you know that Michael and I have said how hard road point are in MLS, and that even getting a draw, as Orlando City did against Chicago, is a good result. Getting all three points against Red Bulls...priceless.
There you have it, Mane Landers — my takeaways from the first win of the season. Want to share something else? Think I’m off on my choices? Let’s discuss in the comments below.