Orlando City traveled all the way across the country to take on the Portland Timbers in Providence Park. Well, some of the team did. The Lions fielded a squad that not many gave a chance, but they were one bad pass away from stealing all three points on the road. Still, one can’t be that upset with the 1-1 draw, and a point in addition. What did we learn from the trip out west?
Not The Usual Suspects
I know I keep mentioning squad rotation in these takeaways articles, but that is because it’s still happening and it matters. Orlando City traveled to Portland without Nani, Dom Dwyer, Lamine Sané, or Robin Jansson. The Lions did bring all three keepers though, so that position was well covered. Robinho joined the team for his first outing, and what could only be called the second team took the field. However, that group almost pulled out an incredible upset and did well to grind out a draw after being out-shot, 26-2.
De John Knocked Out
Alex De John was fouled in the eighth minute of play when Brian Fernández tried a very odd kick at the ball. He got De John in the face instead, and the center back was out before he hit the ground. Fernández was shown a yellow, but the impact was greater on an Orlando City squad with no extra center backs on the bench. De John walked off under his own power in the 11th minute, and Will Johnson came on. James O’Connor moved right back Kyle Smith to center back, and Johnson to the right back position. Orlando City made the adjustment, and implemented O’Connor’s game plan without De John, who was being tested for concussion during the match.
A Different City, Same Tactics
O’Connor has had quite the challenge over the last month or so, dealing with so many matches. He’s managed it by rotating the roster nearly every match, and asking the players on the field to adapt, improvise, and overcome. O’Connor has also managed it by having the team play stout defense, and capitalize on what few scoring chances the team can generate. It was no different at Providence Park on Thursday night. The Lions played well on defense, other than one small lapse, and they scored on their only chance in the first half.
An Unexpected Pair of Goals
Santiago Patiño scored his second goal of the season in the 45th minute of play. In what was one of the strangest occurrences in the match, Zarek Valentin was waiting for the ball to go out of bounds so he could pick it up and take a throw in. The thing is, that the ball wasn’t going out, and new Lion Robinho swept in, took the ball and crossed it into the area. The ball bounced out for Patiño, and the Lions took the lead. But, Patiño giveth, and Patiño taketh away. Or rather, he took a goal, and gave the ball away to Portland on the Timbers’ equalizer in the 82nd minute. It was a soft pass that was picked off by Diego Valeri and it took no time for Portland to equalize.
Will Johnson is a Lion
Obviously, Will Johnson is a Lion because he plays for Orlando City. In this case, I mean that he continues to give everything to this team, every match. When De John went out, he came on with nearly no warm-up, and way earlier than he or O’Connor expected. He put in an 85 minute shift (78 minutes of normal time and seven more in injury time), and did his usual all-go, no-quit performance. Johnson did well to assist in quieting the left side of Portland’s attack, helping Orlando City to earn the point on the road.
That’s what I saw, but let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Go Lions!