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Performances to Forget: Orlando City’s Nadir from Each Season

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The saddest moments of Orlando’s MLS life from every season and ones we hope never to see again.

SOCCER: JUN 14 US Open Cup - Orlando City SC v Miami FC Photo by Joe Petro/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

SBNation’s theme this week is “Sports Moments That Made You Cry.” The city of Orlando has countless sports moments that made its fans cry — both positive and negative. With Orlando City, each year has been a roller coaster of emotions with highs and lows. Below are the worst moments from each year — one game from each season since the Lions joined Major League Soccer that was particularly poor, plus an honorable mention.

August 22, 2015

Orlando City 0, Toronto FC 5

To this day, this match is one of the worst score lines in Orlando City history. The teams played each other just a few weeks prior and Toronto won 4-1. To counter this, Adrian Heath sent out his team more defensively. In Heath’s defense, the game plan might have worked. While Orlando did not do much on the attacking end, the Lions went into halftime tied 0-0. Then Rafael Ramos received a controversial red card in the 36th minute, and the home side took advantage after the break.

Marky Delgado found the opening goal less than a minute into the second half and Toronto never looked back from that point on. Sebastian Giovinco scored from a free kick and then combined with Michael Bradley to assist Justin Morrow. Adrian Winter got a red card in the 83rd minute after fouling Robbie Findley in the box. Jozy Altidore converted the penalty and then scored again two minutes later for good measure. While the Lions kept the first half close, it was no contest in the second half.

July 4, 2016

Orlando City 0, FC Dallas 4

The Mane Land’s headline for this match recap is “Lifeless Lions Post Worst Performance of the Season.” That’s a perfect summary of the match. Dallas got the game going with a goal in the 11th minute. Orlando’s best chance of the first half was when Cyle Larin was in front of the net but didn’t even get a shot off. The second half wasn’t much better as the Lions failed to put a single shot on frame.

Dallas took a 2-0 lead into the half. The first goal came because of Orlando’s defensive errors, which led to a corner. Then Michael Barrios chipped Joe Bendik for the second. Dallas went on to win 4-0 with the two other goals from Matt Hedges and Fabian Castillo. It was Adrian Heath’s final match with Orlando as he was fired shortly after this loss.

October 22, 2017

Orlando City 1, Philadelphia Union 6

This match was over before it even started. Officially out of the playoffs, Jason Kreis made six changes to his starting XI from the previous game for the final match of the season. Ilsinho scored in the third minute, and Fabrice-Jean Picault doubled the lead three minutes later. The Lions, with a mostly backup squad in, were down 2-0 inside 10 minutes, and there was no coming back. Ilsinho, Picault, and C.J. Sapong all finished with a brace as the Lions bowed out of the season embarrassingly.

The one slightly positive note in this match was a goal from Dom Dwyer. He headed in a free kick service from Yoshimar Yotún.

June 30, 2018

Orlando City 0, Atlanta FC 4

Rivals or not, it sucks losing to Atlanta. It’s even worse in the middle of a losing streak after the team’s head coach was fired. In 2018, Atlanta’s attacking powers were in full force. Josef Martinez, Miguel Almiron (twice), and Ezequiel Barco all found the back of the net. Former Lion Mikey Ambrose even assisted Almiron to give the Paraguayan his brace.

Interim Head Coach Bobby Murphy sent Orlando out in a 3-4-3 and opted for a more defensive approach. Julian Gressel’s perfect low cross in the third minute ruined Murphy’s game plan, as the service somehow got behind Orlando’s back line, and Martinez put it into the back of the net. Atlanta kept the attacking going, and could have scored on at least two more occasions. However, Orlando somehow went into halftime only down 1-0. Atlanta scored three goals after the break, and it could have been more. The Lions were lucky to only lose this one by four goals.

October 6, 2019

Chicago Fire 5, Orlando City 2

What is it about the last games of the season that brings out the worst in Orlando? To be fair, this wasn’t an awful performance. The Lions were unlucky when Robin Jansson was forced out of the match in the 30th minute with a head injury. At that point, the game was tied 1-1, and Orlando was unlucky to not be winning at that point. Kyle Smith was already starting at center back for Lamine Sané, who was out with an illness, and Shane O’Neill came on for Jansson. Orlando kept fighting and pushing forward, but Chicago’s keeper Kenneth Kronholm kept the visitors in the match.

The match was settled just after the hour mark. Sapong, Aleksandar Katai, and Przemyslaw Frankowski scored within seven minutes of each other, and the Fire took a 4-1 lead. The match was largely over at that point, although the Lions did keep on fighting. Benji Michel, who was the clear Man of the Match for Orlando, found the back of the net in the 74th minute to cut the lead to 4-2. Frankowski got his brace in the 87th minute to finish off Orlando.

This match is an excellent representation of Orlando for much of its MLS life. The Lions had chance after chance but were unable to convert. Meanwhile, Chicago took advantage of its opportunities and came away with the victory.

June 14, 2017 (Honorable Mention)

Miami FC 3, Orlando City 1

No list of poor Orlando City performances could be complete without this match. It is arguably the worst game in the team’s history. Lower-division Miami FC came into Orlando’s home and dominated the game thanks to a Stefano Pinho hat trick.

“Let me start out by saying this: For me, this is the most disappointing night I’ve had since I’ve been here with Orlando,” then Orlando City Head Coach Jason Kreis said after the match, “I want to take full responsibility for this performance.”

Kreis put in an inexperienced lineup, as is custom in U.S. Open Cup matches, but the young squad could not handle the NASL team. Miami completely outplayed the Lions, and Orlando bowed out of the U.S. Open Cup.