Orlando City hosted Sporting Kansas City in Exploria stadium on a muggy night. Of course the Blue Man Group was there for “Neon Night,” so we had that going for us. Which is nice.
With time running down on the season, Orlando City was able to earn all three points at home. What did we learn from the 1-0 win?
Lions Handle Early Injury
Kyle Smith sustained a gash to his forehead in the first 10 minutes of the match, and he had to be subbed off for Shane O’Neill in the 12th minute. With João Moutinho and Ruan both out with hamstring injuries, James O’Connor did not have another fullback on the bench to come in for Smith. The match was the first appearance in last seven games for O’Neill, who, while not fantastic as a fullback did well enough on both sides of the pitch to help the Lions win the match.
A Rare Early Goal
Orlando City doesn’t make a habit of scoring goals early in matches. As such, it was a pleasant surprise when Tesho Akindele gave the Lions the lead in the 21st minute, and became Orlando City’s goal leader with his ninth goal of the season. Uri Rosell started the play with a pass to Carlos Ascues. The Peruvian midfielder made a nifty one-touch pass into the center of the area, and Tesho made a good run in to get the goal. I should mention that Dom Dwyer pulled at least one defender away from that space, allowing Tesho an easier shot. Take a look.
Nine goals is a new career-high for @Tesho13 in a season! #ORLvSKC | #VamosOrlando pic.twitter.com/VNfDEwOOQs— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) August 15, 2019
The importance of getting that first goal and giving the crowd something to get excited about so early on can’t be stressed enough.
Dwyer Still Pressing
Evidently Dwyer still doesn’t want to score. Obviously, that is not true, but he is still trying to get back on scoreboard. He had as good a chance as any player ever when Chris Mueller put in a cross almost right to Dom’s head at the back post in the second minute. Unfortunately, he couldn’t get it on target. Dom has been putting himself in position to score since coming back from injury, he just hasn’t found that last bit of quality necessary to get a goal. Fortunately, it didn’t come back to haunt the Lions in this match, but I’m not going too far out on a limb to say we all want Dom to get a goal. I think he’d agree.
Orlando City was able to gut out the win at home, but you could tell that it took almost everything the Lions had to do it. Chris Mueller was subbed off to start the second half, and it didn’t appear to be due to injury. I’m certain that James O’Connor is managing minutes at this point in the season, but the players who were on the pitch late in the second half all looked gassed. It was a very humid night in Orlando, and that contributed to the fatigue, but it’s also getting late in the season, following a brutal summer schedule. It will be interesting to see how O’Connor is able to keep this team upright with another match looming Saturday on the road.
Jansson is a Beast
If for some reason you were not a Robin Jansson believer before this match, I certainly hope you are now. The big Swede left it all on the field last night. Jansson was dealing with some sort of knee issue much of the second half of the match. He actually hit the ground in pain several times, but he kept getting back up. He kept making clearances, kept defending, and kept contributing as Orlando struggled to hold on to all three points at home. Even in stoppage time he was making diving headers to clear the ball out of the area. It was the type of performance that shows the character of Jansson, and what he is willing to do for Orlando City.
That’s what I saw, but I’m just one old codger in the cheap seats. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.