A look at the stats from Friday’s game and it would be almost obvious that Orlando City came out on top. The Lions were on top in just about every statistical category: shots, shots on target, passing accuracy, possession, and corners. But in the one stat that matters — goals — Orlando was second best.
The LA Galaxy needed just one chance and it came from Jonathan dos Santos in the 19th minute. The Mexican had a solid game and stepped up for his team when needed. With leading goal scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic suspended, dos Santos was the playmaker for LA. The Mexican worked on both ends of the field. He got a goal and led his team in tackles and interceptions.
For Orlando, there was nobody to step up when star striker Dom Dwyer was out. Dwyer missed the game because of yellow card accumulation, and this caused a considerable problem for Orlando City Head Coach James O’Connor. In the second half, down a goal, O’Connor had nobody to turn to off the bench that he could trust to make an impact on the game.
After the match O’Connor said that Tesho Akindele “had a little bit of tiredness” and had to be taken off. With attacking players like Benji Michel and Josué Colmán on the bench, the Irishman went with a right back, Kyle Smith, and pushed Ruan higher up the field.
“For us, it was a case of, do we bring Benji on? Do we put an attacker in that position?” said O’Connor. “Ruan is really like an attacker anyway. So for us, it was a case of can we isolate him one-on-one and get him into those positions? And he did a good job of getting in behind. It’s just when you have the volume of play, volume of possession, passes, chances, you have to finish the final piece. For [LA] to have one shot on goal and get out of here with a win is incredibly frustrating.”
“Frustrating” is a word that O’Connor used over and over in the press conference. He also talked about how hard the players worked and that Orlando was the better team but just could not finish its chances.
A crucial part of this is that Nani had a poor game. He missed a penalty kick for the second week in a row that would have tied the game at one and likely would have given Orlando the momentum. The midfielder took eight shots with just three hitting the target. The three shots on target were the penalty miss, a shot falling down where he barely got contact off a deflected ball, and a free kick from about 25 yards out. Additionally, he struggled with service into dangerous areas, as can be seen below.
And here lies the issue for Orlando. One player is out, and another has a poor game, and the team cannot win.
“We felt as if we were getting good opportunities,” O’Connor said after the match on Friday. “We were causing [LA] quite a few problems. Josué [Colmán] came on and gave a little bit of a spark. When Sacha [Kljestan] went into the game, he started to get onto the ball and open them up. I thought we did a good job of getting in behind and opening them up, but when you do that you have to have the final piece.”
The transfer window opens up on July 7. This is going to be a pivotal time for Orlando because the lack of depth up top is causing the team to drop points. Look for the Lions to bring in added depth up top, or even another starting caliber forward. Providing competition for Dwyer up top could be just what Orlando needs, and will likely make Dwyer more clinical in front of the net.
The one thing that every player constantly talks about is the desire that the team has and how much they want to win. O’Connor says it after just about every game, players post about it on their social media accounts, and the fan support rarely wavers. But it is all talk, and the team needs to produce on the field.
While announced attendance numbers are almost always around the 23,000 mark and higher, a look at Orlando City Stadium on game day will show that fewer and fewer fans are showing up to the games. O’Connor makes promises that the players are working their absolute hardest, but results are the only thing that matters. Hard work or not, it is time to put wins on the board, and if the current players are not doing their job, O’Connor will need to look to the transfer market next month.