Orlando City drew the New York Red Bulls 1-1 last night at Red Bull Arena. It was a last-minute goal by the home team that stole two points from the purple-clad Lions. While it was a disappointing ending, there were some positives to take away from the performance.
Here are my top five takeaways from this game.
Orlando City Does Enough for First MLS Playoff Appearance
Orlando City headed into this weekend’s matchup with the New York Red Bulls with an opportunity to make the MLS Cup playoffs for the first time since joining the league in 2015. In order to clinch the spot this weekend, they needed at least a point and some help from Toronto FC. A win and the Lions would only need a draw from Toronto. A draw would require the Reds claiming all three points. While it wasn’t known until after the Orlando City game had completed, a late Toronto FC goal was enough to lift the Reds over Atlanta United 1-0. It wasn’t the finish that Orlando City wanted from this game but it was enough to secure a playoff spot for the first time since 2014.
Daryl Dike Continues to Use His Body Well
It can be difficult to get a forward to use their big frame. Cyle Larin learned this skill during his first season with Orlando CIty in 2015 and carried that into 2016. However, during his final season with the club, he tried to be too cute with the ball. Daryl Dike is still young but has done very well in using his frame. Like Larin, it took him a while to learn this skill but it was on display again against New York. We’ve seen Dike use his body well late in games, but now we’re seeing him use it better in the attack. In the 55th minute, Dike shielded the Red Bulls defender well to make his way into the box before being taken out by Amro Tarek, earning a penalty. While Nani will get the credit for converting the penalty, it was Dike’s ability to shield that ball from the defender that earned that spot kick, giving the Lions the lead.
The Easiest Game of 2020 for Brian Rowe
This was Brian Rowe’s third start of the season as Pedro Gallese waits to go through quarantine after returning from the Peruvian national team. In the first two games against Atlanta and NYCFC, Rowe had to make some spectacular saves in order for the Lions to claim any points. The Orlando City backup goalkeeper had to make incredible saves in both of those games just for the Lions to earn a point. The Red Bulls didn’t challenge Rowe nearly as much as the previous two games had. Part of that is good defense but also some poor shooting by the Red Bulls. Either way, it was nice for the Lions’ starting goalkeeper not to need to make the save of the week just to avoid losing.
Orlando City Defense Didn’t Provide Easy Chances
You can often tell how well a defense plays by the opportunities provided to the opposition. The Orlando City back line put in a good effort for most of this game, making it much easier for Rowe to keep the Red Bulls off the board. Of the 14 shots taken by the Red Bulls, only six were from inside the box. The remaining eight were low-percentage shots from well outside the box. This was because the Lions’ defense wasn’t providing any pathways or connections to charge into the box. The only option for the opposition were those low-percentage shots. Unfortunately, they gave up space inside the box in the final minute of the game. Otherwise, it would’ve been a clean sheet and three points for the Lions.
Orlando City Missed Its Possession Leaders
The starting lineup of this game saw Mauricio Pereyra and Uri Rosell still missing. These are two of the players who build through the midfield and into the attack. When they’re on the field, the forwards can push further up, creating more opportunities in the opposing third. The absence of these two players was obvious in this game as the buildup through the midfield wasn’t nearly as clean. There were too many giveaways and the forwards were forced to come back into the midfield at times. It was a good performance all around by the team but the play through the midfield left a lot to be desired. That probably wouldn’t have been as much of a problem with a full squad.
That’s what I took away from the Lions’ 1-1 draw in New York. What stood out to you in this game? Let us know in the comments below.