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Orlando City vs. Real Salt Lake: Five Takeaways

What did we learn from the Lions’ 2-1 loss in Rio Tinto Stadium?

MLS: Orlando City SC at Real Salt Lake Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into last night’s match, the Lions were undefeated against Real Salt Lake. This match should have been a great opportunity to pick up three on the road, but that task proved to be a bit too daunting as RSL, which has had trouble so far this season, woke up against the Lions, or the Lions just never showed up. So what were the five biggest takeaways from the match?

The Lineup

I am trying to figure out a number of aspects of this lineup, but the biggest one is why are all three of the club’s Designated Players — Dom Dwyer, Nani, and Josué Colmán — starting on the bench? I didn’t hear anything in the days leading up to the match about any of them being injured. It has been seven days since City’s last match, and the next match is next weekend. Why have the top talent, including two starters, on the bench?

Cash is a Super Sub

For everyone who has been asking, I think last night’s match may have helped to answer your question as to why Chris Mueller has not been starting. Understand, this is in no way a slight to Cash, as he is a great player with unbelievable potential, but all of that skill may be better coming off the bench. Against a fresh back line, he didn’t look as potent as he has coming off the bench. Earning your paycheck in 90 minutes versus 20 minutes makes no difference if the scoreline is positive for the club.

Nani is Worth Every Penny

Ill just refer to that free kick. I will also say that things on the pitch certainly changed when he came on. He is 100% percent focused on the task at hand, and it is obviously contagious with the rest of the Lions on the pitch. His presence is more than felt, it is a bastion of elevated performance for everyone else around him.

Going Down Early Needs to Stop

I think this is the third match in a row that the Lions have given up the opening goal of the match before the 20th minute. The constant play coming from behind is just not productive. This club has got to find some chemistry in defense. The little mistakes, like Ruan’s on the first goal last night, that lead to this team playing from behind far too often need to be cleaned up or this is going to be a longer than needed season.

There is Still Hope

Again, MLS is one of the toughest leagues in the world to win on the road. I see no reason to give up yet, but I will begin to change my mind if the lineup continues to be all three DPs on the bench. There were some positive performances, including rookie center back Kamal Miller, who played well on a back three that looked a bit out of sync at times in the match. His touch was pretty solid, his vision was pretty solid, and he pushed forward when needed. The rookie looks to have a lot of potential.

With as many changes that were made to lineup, it is very difficult to compare performances to the last one we saw. The Lions are proving to be a bit chaotic this season, gelling one match and being a total cluster the next. These are the five things I took away from the match tonight.

What are you thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.