Orlando City had its 12-match unbeaten run broken by Inter Miami two days ago. The Lions scored first on the day, however, Miami equalized through a Robin Jansson own goal right on the cusp of halftime. The opposition then scored the go-ahead winner in the 89th minute through Leandro Gonzalez Pirez’s goal following a corner, securing three points in Fort Lauderdale.
The Tropic Thunder loss is the first game this season in which City lost after scoring first and it was quite painful for the Orlando City faithful to witness. Given the manner in which the loss came, the result was unfortunately a fair result in my opinion, and maybe even a bit kind to the Lions.
While it was a painful loss, being handed a defeat may actually be a good thing in the long run for Orlando City prior to the playoffs. This defeat may serve as somewhat of a reality check as the playoffs get closer.
Despite the fact that the undefeated run was the best in club history, it was starting to grow glaringly obvious that the side was not quite at its best. Out of the five fixtures before the loss yesterday, Orlando City only had one win and four draws, bagging seven points out of a possible 15. Furthermore, in four of the previous five affairs entering Saturday, the Lions had been unable to score more than one goal. Admittedly, the 12-match unbeaten run was really fun while it lasted, however, from my personal view, a metaphorical “kick up the backside” was needed and may benefit the side in the end. The team needs to be more effective in front of goal, and this painful defeat could help restore that killer instinct. Scoring one goal per match is just not sustainable.
Against Inter Miami, after Daryl Dike scored the first goal, Orlando made a few more chances but the onslaught of pressure from the opposition after none of those opportunities came to fruition — combined with a glaring missed chance by Benji Michel in the 88th — saw the streak snap.
As was mentioned by Michael Citro in the recap of the game, the concession of the 89th minute losing goal was the second late let-in of the week after the Lions also gave up a 95th-minute equalizer against the New York Red Bulls.
Lasting 12 fixtures without a loss is no easy feat, but given that the last three matches of that impressive run were all draws, it’s fair to say something in the side needs an adjustment, even if it’s just more healthy bodies to add to the rotation.
The defense has not been the issue lately but the attack has not been as potent recently and that must improve. That is not the scoring form that a side wants going into its first ever trip to the MLS playoffs. Though the playoffs are still four regular-season matches away, Pareja must get his side into better scoring form if the side is to have any hope of progressing deep. As players like Tesho Akindele and Benji Michel work their way back from injury and newcomers Matheus Aias and Alexander Alvarado integrate into the team, that could turn things back in the right direction.
Hopefully the loss serves as a reality check and I genuinely think it could. Akindele seems to think it will help the side regain its focus. After the match, the Canadian stated, “I think the loss will give us a good reset and refocus us.”
The side has obviously gotten much better, nevertheless there are still many improvements that can be made. Hopefully supporters get to see some fixes made against Atlanta United this coming Wednesday in order to help improve form going into the forthcoming playoffs.