Orlando City hosted the struggling Colorado Rapids Saturday night in Orlando City Stadium. Orlando had yet to win at home and Colorado had yet to win a match. While it’s conceivable that both could have continued their streaks, it seemingly was not to be the case from the get-go in this try. Orlando City won a wild one in the rain 4-3. Let’s see what we learned.
Conceding Early Again (Twice)
Orlando City has conceded first in every home match so far this season, and Saturday night was no different. Kei Kamara scored in the ninth minute to put the Rapids up and Orlando City a goal down again at home. Orlando got two back before the half, but they then conceded first in the second half, following the extended lightning delay. Again, the Lions came from behind to take the lead, but this is not a recipe for success, especially considering that the Rapids are hardly the class of the league.
First Win at Home
Orlando City had yet to win a match at home this season, having managed two losses and a draw, while going down 2-0 (or worse) in each. As mentioned above, Orlando conceded first in this match as well, but managed to not go down two goals. Pulling ahead before the half and the ensuing lightning delay was as important for winning this game as were the late goals. Winning this match, even against Colorado, was an important step forward for this squad. No team can do well in MLS without winning at home. Getting all three points, especially under such adversity, was crucial for James O’Connor and the team.
A Brace for Nani
Nani started the scoring for Orlando City with a header to draw even with Colorado in the 31st minute. It wasn’t his only goal, but more importantly, it wasn’t his only impact. He did have a bit of a scare in the second half where if it had been the last set of PRO referees, he might have been sent off for a headbutt. Fortunately, he wasn’t, as he made the Lions’ winning goal on the penalty kick in the 89th minute.
Cash is Money
Chris Mueller didn’t get subbed in until the 79th minute. All he did was immediately level the score with a goal. Then he put another ball in that could have been the go-ahead. Mueller has done everything he’s done all season off the bench. Basically, he changed the entire feel of the match with his energy, pace, and enthusiasm. He is the beating heart of this team and quite possibly the most important player this year. He has grown as a player, and it is showing so far this season.
Room for Improvement
I’m going to be a downer here for a moment, despite the win. Yes, the Lions won at home. Yes, they came back to do it. Yes, there were many positives. However, this was not D.C. United. It was not the LA Galaxy. It was the winless Colorado Rapids, and it took a late penalty to secure the win. That is not ideal, and honestly this team needs to be better than that. This was a step in the right direction, have no doubt. However, it was not necessarily the turning point of a season. It might be, but that isn’t assured, and I would think more work is ahead.
I know I ended on a down note, but let’s be grateful for the three points, and move on in the season. Go City!