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Orlando City vs. LA Galaxy: Final Score 1-0 as Lions Struggle in the Final Third

Jonathan dos Santos’ 19th-minute goal was the lone score in the Lions’ 1-0 home loss.

Nick Leyva, The Mane Land

Orlando City struggled in the final third and failed to find the back of the net, falling 1-0 to the LA Galaxy in front of 24,712 fans in Orlando City Stadium. The Galaxy (8-5-1, 25 points) needed just one chance to find the back of the net, and Jonathan dos Santos’ 19th-minute goal was the game-winner as the Lions (4-7-3, 15 points) were shut out for the third time in their last five matches. LA snapped its four-game losing streak in the process.

“Obviously, a very bitter game for us to accept,” Orlando City Head Coach James O’Connor said. “A stereotypical smash and grab. When you look at the volume of chances that we’ve had, the possession that we had, I think [LA] had just one shot on target, I think it’s a really difficult one to take. When you look at that, it’s hard to say that we deserved to be beaten in that game.”

O’Connor sent his team out with the same starting XI as last week’s 5-1 beating of FC Cincinnati. The back four of Ruan, Lamine Sané, Robin Jansson, and João Moutinho played together for the fifth time this season, and the chemistry showed as the Galaxy struggled to get many chances.

Orlando started the game as the better team and had all the chances early on. For the first 15-20 minutes, the Lions had all the momentum and it looked like Orlando would cruise through the match.

Chris Mueller and Will Johnson both took shots from distance early on. Galaxy ‘keeper David Bingham saved Mueller’s shot, and Johnson sent his sailing over the bar. Moutinho and Nani had crosses punched away by Bingham.

It looked like Orlando would score in the fifth minute. Brian Rowe initiated a counterattack by quickly punting the ball to Nani into the final third. Nani was unable to find anyone with the low cross though.

Minutes later, Ruan was taken down just outside the box. Nani and Jansson stood over the ball, and it was the center back who took it. Jansson sent the ball into the stands, but it was a good attempt for the defender.

Then, in the 19th minute, LA scored against the run of play. Rolf Feltscher got down the wing, and Moutinho was caught too far inside to close him down. Feltscher sent in a low cross that was cleared by Jansson’s left foot, but Orlando was unable to recover the ball, and it rolled out of top of the box. Dos Santos made the Lions pay for it and sent a screamer into the top corner.

After the goal, the momentum shifted to the Galaxy, and Orlando struggled to get chances. When the Lions did have opportunities in front of goal, the last ball in was too poor. LA did a good job of closing down whoever was on the ball for the Lions and the Galaxy sent two or three players to close down. Orlando could not break this, and it led to many giveaways.

“We outplayed them for large amounts of the game,” said O’Connor. “We’ve had great opportunities. We just haven't managed to take the final piece, which is the most important piece. We get into great areas, create opportunities. It’s just incredibly frustrating and the players don’t deserve that.”

In the 31st minute, it looked like Orlando would get back into it. Sebas Méndez was taken down in the box by dos Santos, and the referee awarded a penalty kick. Nani stood over the ball, and for the second week in a row, his spot kick was saved. This time, though, he was unable to pounce on the rebound.

That was about all the action in the first half and Orlando went into halftime down 1-0. LA had one shot, one shot on target, and one goal — so a perfect conversion rate. Orlando had six shots (three on target) and both teams were converting 84% of their passes. LA had a slight possession advantage (51%-49%).

“The level of frustration is] very high,” Mueller said. “We wanted to win that game really badly. Felt like it was really important at home to get the three points. We threw everything we could at them. It’s really frustrating not to come away with a win, but we just gotta keep moving forward.”

Orlando controlled much of the second half, but LA sat back and defended well as a unit. Orlando got off 19 shots, 13 in the second half, but struggled to get many good looks. The majority of the shots were easy saves for Bingham.

In the 56th minute, O’Connor took out Tesho Akindele and brought in right back Kyle Smith. Ruan then moved farther up the field, and into a winger position. O’Connor talked about how Akindele was tired, but also the need to get Ruan into a higher position up the field.

“Ruan is really like an attacker anyway,” said O’Connor. “So for us, it was a case of can we isolate him one-on-one and get him into those positions, and he did an excellent job of getting in behind.”

Sacha Kljestan came on in the 67th minute and had a solid game. With his first touch, he sent in a cross to the back post. Smith got on the end of it, but Perry Kitchen cleared it off the line.

Five minutes later, Ruan sent in a cross, and Kljestan just missed it. Nani was there, but he was falling and didn’t make good contact on it. Then, he sent in a cross looking for Ruan. The ball was a bit short, and LA defended it. On the corner, Mueller got his head to it, and Bingham made a great save to keep the score at 1-0.

Orlando was pressing at the end, and it looked like the Lions would find a goal, but LA just would not break. Orlando led in shots (19-4), shots on target (7-1), passing accuracy (84%-80%) and held more possession (57%), but the Galaxy came away with the three points.

Orlando City is back in action on June 1 when the Lions travel to Canada to take on the Montreal Impact at 4 p.m. in Stade Saputo.