After Daryl Dike nailed his penalty in the 50th minute of Sunday’s night match against the New England Revolution, it looked like Orlando City was destined to pick up a huge three points against the soon-to-be Supporters Shield champions. Those plans were derailed by a handful of Revolution substitutes and a late Adam Buksa brace, splitting the points and putting a damper on what would’ve been a statement victory. The closing minutes of the second half on Sunday represented the latest example of an incomplete game from this Orlando team.
The Lions are on a five-game unbeaten run, but in that stretch the lack of a complete performance has left points on the table. They’ve given up second half leads in both of the last two games. Yes, the Montreal game wasn’t exactly a second-half collapse, but all three points were there. Even against Nashville, the start of this unbeaten run and a miraculous result, was far from a strong overall performance. Orlando put itself in a two-goal deficit and needed a late comeback to steal a point. Even the wins were a close 1-0 win over the worst team in the league — albeit on the road — and a late stoppage-time winner against D.C. United.
The results continue to be strong for Orlando City, but this lack of a complete, 90-minute performance is a potentially worrisome trend with bigger matches looming. The Lions have done well to put themselves in a good spot in the standings, sitting three points clear of fifth place and four points ahead of the drop. If results continue this way, Orlando will be hosting a playoff game for the second year in a row and have a shot to make some noise. But is that going to happen?
This last rush to the postseason has been exciting and nerve-wracking for Orlando City. But with all the late comebacks and collapses, is this team actually good enough to do something when it matters?
The lack of a complete game is a problem. The best teams have the ability to be on the front foot for an entire match, but Orlando hasn’t shown that as of late. This “Cardiac Cats” run of results has been fun, but it could be troublesome moving forward.
In the same breath, the resilience to fight back for results is a sign of a strong team. The game in Nashville and the win against D.C. were testaments to what this team is capable of. It presses on and can always make something out of nothing. In a playoff setting, that type of resiliency is something to draw upon. If the 2021 playoffs are anything like 2020, the ability to come from behind and be comfortable playing down are valuable experiences to draw upon.
But at the same time, that inconsistency and inability to hold onto a lead might derail any chance to even get to that point. If Orlando is to make it back to the playoffs or even make a run, it needs a 90-minute performance, but we’ll have to see if that’s something this group is capable of right now.