Orlando City played well in its season opener. The Lions were defensively sound and allowed practically no chances against Real Salt Lake. The midfielders dominated the match and there was a different energy around the team with more attack.
Still, it was the same old story for Orlando and the Lions failed to finish their chances. The game ended with no goals, but it should have been three points to the home side.
The team now travels close to 2,000 miles northwest to face the Colorado Rapids. Here are three things Orlando must do to pick up its first win of the season:
Take Advantage of Set Pieces
D.C. United only had one corner kick last week against Colorado, but that lone corner ended in a goal. It was a sloppy play from the Rapids as Russell Canouse was wide open on the back post. The delivery was perfect from Julian Gressel, but if Colorado defended adequately, it would have been an easy clearance. Canouse started in front of Clint Irwin with Sam Vines marking him closely. All Canouse did was walk backward, and he was left alone.
In Orlando’s season opener, the Lions had 12 corners. None of them ended in any good looks on goal though. This has to be an area the Lions improve on moving forward. Some players have excellent service, so having poor balls into the area is not a good excuse. Inside the box, there needs to be more movement to create space. Things were pretty stagnant for most of the corners, which made it easy for Real Salt Lake to defend.
On free kicks, players have to hit the frame when shooting. That’s easier said than done, but these are situations that cannot go to waste. Especially with Nani and Dom Dwyer out.
Stepping Up in the Attack
Speaking of Nani and Dwyer, the attack needs to improve dramatically. The midfield did its job and controlled the game. But when the ball went forward the play ended. None of the forwards for Orlando showed enough quality with the final touch last week. They all have proven their ability in the past and have proven they have what it takes to lead the offense. But will they?
The play needs to be quicker and sharper in front of the net. When isolated out wide, there needs to be more creativity to create space. The crosses into the box could be better, but the forwards made the same run in front of goal too many times.
It could have been first-game jitters and new faces coming together for the first time, but the finishing was poor against RSL. It is nearly impossible to win if the forwards aren’t doing their job, and at least one of needs to step up.
Silence Kei Kamara
One striker who undoubtedly will show up on Saturday is Kamara. The 35-year-old always seems to have Orlando’s number and has scored 12 times against Orlando since 2015. Double-team him, stick one player to shadow him all game, foul him often, the Lions must do whatever it takes to keep him away from the net.
Orlando did an excellent job defensively in the opener and allowed the lowest number of expected goals against in MLS. How much of that was because of good defensive play though rather than just a poor showing from RSL? A good indicator of how good Orlando’s defense is will come from how well it can keep Kamara at bay this weekend.