Orlando City defeated the Chicago Fire 4-1 Saturday night for its sixth win of the 2020 MLS regular season. Looking at the score itself, it would appear as though the Lions completed a dominating performance, but there was much more to the game. It was one in which the hosts would’ve found themselves on the other end of in previous seasons.
Despite losing by three goals, this will be seen by the Fire as a game that got away. They hit the woodwork twice and had two goals overturned after video review.
The second overturned goal in the 56th minute came at a time when Chicago was dominating possession and it would’ve been the equalizer. The way the game was going, the goal could have spurred the visitors on to the win.
Whether it’s the video review decisions going against Chicago or the several missed opportunities, it was a game the Fire should’ve at least claimed a point from. It was also a scenario that looked quite familiar to Orlando City fans.
Since Orlando City moved from the USL to MLS in 2015, fans have gotten used to seeing the Lions squander chances to gain points. In many games, the team has had the majority of possession and created at least as many chances as the opposition. Yet, in the end, the Lions came away with nothing for their efforts.
While Chicago squandered multiple opportunities to win the game, even Orlando City’s goals weren’t as clean as you would expect in a 4-1 win. In the 11th minute, Chris Mueller scored from a shot that was not hit very cleanly and bounced off multiple defenders before catching Fire goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth leaning the wrong way. The Lions’ third goal in the 78th minute was a result of the Fire failing to clear the ball on multiple occasions. As the Nani free kick bounced around the box, four Lions attempted some form of a shot before Junior Urso finally put it in.
In the end, Chicago ended the game with 55% possession and the teams were even with 19 shots on goal. The big difference was that, while Orlando City put seven of those shots on target, only three of Chicago’s 19 shots were on the frame.
Orlando City fans have become used to seeing their team on Chicago’s end of this one, often dominating possession but unable to find the net. The fact that the team was able to score four times and come away with a victory, despite not playing well defensively, shows the difference between this team and those of the club’s MLS past. Throughout an MLS season, there are going to be times when the team won’t play particularly well, even against inferior opponents. To end the season near the top of the standings, it needs to find a way to claim points from those performances.
While it wasn’t a game to write home about, it was an important win for the Lions. They now sit third in the Eastern Conference and are in their best position to make the postseason since joining MLS six years ago. Since the team’s run to the final of the MLS is Back Tournament, there has been something different about this team. That difference was on full display Saturday night.