Orlando City came into Seattle and Head Coach James O’Connor changed all 11 players from the 1-0 loss to Atlanta United over the weekend. With a lineup that had a strong U.S. Open Cup feeling to it, Orlando hung in until the very end but ultimately fell on the artificial turf field. The Lions struggled in the final third and had just one shot on target.
Here are five takeaways from the match. Be sure to comment below about what you took away for it.
O’Connor changed all 11 players from Saturday’s loss to Atlanta. There are plenty of excuses for this extraordinary change — short rest, focus on Sunday’s Cincinnati game, turf field, injuries. Some of the players who started deserved the start (Josué Colmán) and other players needed time on the bench (Dom Dwyer). But to change the entire team is unheard of, especially when the only player that scored this season in the starting XI was Sacha Kljestan.
This also led to chemistry issues. Players were misreading runs, sending balls where nobody was, and there were communication issues all night. This is natural when players are playing with each other for the first time and it led to the struggles in the final third and the defensive end as well.
Kyle Smith was extremely poor on the first goal. It was a simple give-and-go between Brad Smith and Harry Shipp. Kyle Smith got caught ball watching, and Brad Smith ran right by him and took the return ball from Shipp before sending in a perfect cross. On the second goal, Smith gave Nicolas Lodeiro way too much room and needed to have closed him down. Instead, with the space, Lodeiro put a great ball into the box, and Handwalla Bwana passed it into the net. In the 81st minute, he had a lazy foul that led to a free kick in a dangerous area for Seattle.
On the other side, Danilo Acosta did well defending but provided next to nothing on the offensive end. His touch was heavy, and he struggled in possession. In the 52nd minute, Colmán played an excellent through ball to the fullback, but Acosta did not do well with it and shot right into a defender from inside the 18. This is likely why O’Connor subbed him out in the 85th minute. A like-for-like substitute for a left back is strange when your team is losing, but João Moutinho is much more effective on the attacking end.
Colmán Did Well With His Opportunity
The Young Designated Player has not played much this season. Before Wednesday, he had no starts and just 66 minutes. In his first start of the season, he took the opportunity well. Whereas Colman is famous for lots of fancy footwork but not doing much else, he toned down the skill moves. Instead, he read the game well, made simple passes, and was very effective in the midfield. Colman finished with just one shot, and it was blocked. He needs to create more chances for himself, but overall, a solid night from the youngster.
Video review was supposed to help, but there has obviously been plenty of problems with it since its inception. On Wednesday, the review process took four minutes off the clock. For the majority of that, the referee was just talking with the VAR over the headset. Regardless of the decision, that is too long of a time to wait to walk over and take a look. Lodeiro clearly hit the ball with his hand, so what they were talking about is a mystery. The VAR should have said, “Lodeiro hit the ball with his hand before the goal. Take a look at this.” This lengthy process was largely responsible for an additional eight minutes of stoppage time. There really is no reason why this whole process had to take more than 90 seconds, and MLS and PRO need to look at this.
In his first MLS start, Greg Ranjitsingh should be proud of his performance. He could not do anything about the two goals that he let in. He was forced into just one other save, which he didn’t pick up right away after the ball took a deflection but he made a nice reaction once it got through traffic. The ‘keeper was quick and aggressive coming off his line. Nothing that Ranjitsingh did was flashy or spectacular but a solid job in net should open the goalkeeper battle back up that was present in the preseason.