The 1-1 scoreline of Orlando City’s game against Sporting Kansas City didn’t do the contest justice. It was a fairly wide open and attacking affair, and one that Orlando probably could have gotten more than just a point from had the team been sharper on the night. Road results are tough to come by though, so at the end of the day I’m pretty happy. What follows are my five thoughts from the game.
Frantically Paced Contest
Aside from a period of around 10 minutes in each half, this game was played at a very high tempo by both teams. Early on that was due to Kansas City pressing very high up the field when Orlando had the ball to try to make things difficult for the Lions. When it worked, it worked well, and Sporting forced plenty of turnovers from Orlando in its own half. However, when OCSC was able to bypass the first wave of pressure, the good guys were able to find a lot of spaces in midfield to drive into and then move the ball out wide. It seemed like there was always an attack happening for one of the two teams, but that didn’t really need to be the case.
Sloppiness Still Plagues Lions
It wasn’t the most mistake-free night from either team, but to my eye Orlando was particularly guilty of being careless with the ball. Whether it was loose touches, or dangerous or simply completely misplayed passes in their own half, the Lions made way more mistakes than we’ve become accustomed to seeing. As mentioned earlier, part of that is due to pressure from Sporting KC, but there were plenty of unforced errors too, particularly when playing out of the back. It may simply be that Orlando is still rounding into regular season form, but the amount of mistakes was frustrating, and could have cost the Lions worse than it did.
Orlando Dangerous in the Attack
On a more positive note, the Lions carried plenty of threat going forward and looked much more dangerous than they did last week against Atlanta. Orlando took 11 shots on the night and put four on target, but beyond the numbers, the team just did a better job of creating chances. If not for some very good work from John Pulskamp and a couple chances that Benji Michel couldn’t convert, OCSC might have been able to get more from this game than a point. As was to be expected with Mauricio Pereyra still suspended, the Lions did their best work then they were able to get the ball out wide to Ruan or Kyle Smith, but struggled when trying to keep the ball on the ground and play through the middle. Another avenue that provided some joy for Orlando was bypassing the Kansas City midfield altogether by using long balls over the top for attackers to run onto, and that’s where the equalizing goal eventually came from.
Overturned Goals Galore
Goals being overturned by offside calls was the order of the day without a doubt. SKC had one while Orlando had two. I don’t know if there was an over/under on chalked off goals, but if there was, the over most definitely hit. I felt particularly bad for Andres Perea, as his best taken shot in an Orlando shirt didn’t count, and only because of the briefest of touches from Antonio Carlos. Regardless, the Lions were at least creating chances and the video review that finally went Orlando’s way was the most important one, with the offside call on the equalizer being reversed after a brief look at the monitor from Joseph Dickerson. All the goal decisions were the correct ones though, and the game was a proper poster child of video review being used the right way.
Nani and Smith Save the Day
It was beginning to look like it wasn’t going to be Orlando’s night. The men in purple had the better chances on the night, and most of the dangerous looks at Pedro Gallese’s goal were to due self-inflicted mistakes. Regardless, whether it was due to offside calls or just not being able to finish off chances, as the game wore on, Orlando getting the road result it deserved looked less and less likely. In the end though, Nani’s instinctive moment of class secured a road point that the Lions more than earned. Don’t overlook Smith’s contribution to the captain’s inspired backheel flick though. The fullback made a stellar run that split the KC defense and then took a great touch to bring down the long ball from Mendez and play it into the box. Nani was the one who scored, but Smith was the one who made it.
Don’t mind my wonderful editing skills but this unlikely and unexpected penetrating run by @RealKyleSmith24 was the key to the @OrlandoCitySC goal.. wonderful stuff. More than a #soldado #SKC #OrlandoCity pic.twitter.com/GQXY9OS403— Miguel Gallardo (@migallardo01) April 24, 2021
Overall, I’ll settle for a road point, even though it was a game Orlando could have won. The team was still without Joao Moutinho — though he dressed and was in the 18 finally — Uri Rosell, Robin Jansson, Alexandre Pato, Silvester van der Water, and the aforementioned Pereyra, but looked much better going forward, and I found that very encouraging. If the sloppiness and errors can be fixed and the creativity in attack can be ratcheted up a few notches when those players return, then there’s plenty of reason for optimism.
What were your thoughts on the game? Be sure to have your say down in the comments.