Last week’s win against MLS newcomers FC Cincinnati had everyone feeling great. It was a much-needed three points to boost support for the Lions. I have this working theory that anytime things are going well for a character in a book, show, or movie the characters start making plans. But once they start making plans, someone dies. The inflated score left fans clinging to hope that maybe, just maybe with Zlatan Ibrahimović out, the Lions could have walked away with some much-needed points.
So, here are my five takeaways from Orlando City’s 1-0 loss against the LA Galaxy.
A Full Stadium is a Fun Stadium
I don’t think I’ve ever seen the stadium as full as it was tonight in person before. I’m sure the holiday weekend, Friday night after-work crowd could be part of the reason the stands were so full. More likely, however, was the thought that fans would get to see Zlatan Ibrahimović play at home. A lot of tickets were sold before it was announced he wouldn’t be playing, but by that time people had already paid for resale tickets. In fact, none of the season ticket holders that are typically around us were there tonight.
I will say this though, I was pretty upset trying to get in given the long lines after a very busy day before the match. Regardless, a full stadium is so much fun. The chants are louder, the cheers shake the stands, and even the little kids get a chance to curse at the referees with little consequence. More importantly, the full stadium tells the players that we are there to see them no matter how the results shake out. They certainly put on a show last night that left us fully engaged despite the loss.
Have We Tried Turning Nani Off and Back On Again?
The man is a powerhouse and I just didn’t see it last night. While he didn’t have a terrible game, he didn’t have a great game. For the second match in a row we saw a Nani penalty kick blocked. He needed to be on with Dom Dwyer suspended. He needed to be unstoppable, but wasn’t. He did have eight shots, three on target, but it wasn’t enough. It seemed like he was one step off most of the night.
It has me questioning, is there a curse? Can there be only one? Dom finally broke his scoreless run in the match against FC Cincinnati last week, so if he has his mojo back did Nani lose his?
The Offense Struggled
I don’t mean the offense struggled to create chances, because good grief Orlando City saw 19 attempts at goal and not one went in. Chris Mueller’s first touches were killing attacks, we already discussed Nani, and Tesho Akindele seemed to be left out. Akindele should have seen more of the ball in my opinion after a brace last match gave him momentum into this one. Then he came out for Smith and the formation changed. I’m not sure why, but I do know there were so many soft shots in those 19 attempts that power and range is definitely something the Lions should be working on during training.
Defense is Frustrating
Goalkeepers don’t prevent goals alone. They rely heavily on the back line to stop teams from even getting that far. It appears this team is afraid to shut players down. We saw it last week when Darren Mattocks toyed with defenders in the 24th minute and no one lunged, slid, or did anything but watch the ball sail to the back of the net. We saw it again last night when Jonathan dos Santos, with plenty of room, fired one into the back of the net while players in purple just stood there and watched it happen.
The guys are making great plays to win the ball back, but it’s just frustrating when they just stand there and ball watch. Communication still seems to be lacking as we’d often see two players pull up on a run only for neither to follow through. At one point Ruan was playing striker? I don’t know, that’s what it seemed like because he wasn’t where players were looking for and expecting him to be in that moment. Let’s work on communication, please? Pretty please?
I’m nothing if not someone who works to find silver linings, as many of you know. So, I’ll have to end this doom and gloom with a bit of light. Again, there were 19 shots, so many chances being created. This is more than I could have hoped for after last season, and at least they made the LA Galaxy work for the win. On their way to all those goal-scoring opportunities, the Lions stole the ball from the opposition seemingly with ease again and again. They spent a lot of time with possession in the Galaxy’s half and even more time attacking down the left and performing well with short passes this game.
It’s a long road to the next home match. Here’s hoping that we can continue to trust the process and convert all this “they played well” momentum into actual wins. What did you take away from this game? Let us know in the comments below.