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Orlando City vs. FC Cincinnati: Five Takeaways

What did we learn from a dominant first victory in 2021?

MLS: FC Cincinnati at Orlando City SC Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando City finally notched one in the win column, easily beating an outmatched FC Cincinnati side by a decisive 3-0 scoreline. The Lions were in control for the entire game, taking the lead within a minute and never feeling any real danger from a poor Cincinnati side. What can we take away from Orlando City’s dominant first win in the 2021 MLS season?

Nani on a Heater

After an impressive performance in Kansas City, the captain was at his best once again versus FC Cincinnati. He provided the moment of the match with a brilliant goal in the 19th minute, crossing up Cincinnati’s Yuya Kubo before placing it with his left foot to the far corner from outside the box. Outside of that spectacular effort, he finished with six shots, three accurate crosses, and two key passes. This is what Orlando needs from Nani. If he can continue to create moments of magic and be an offensive focal point, the Lions will be lethal.

Mauricio Pereyra a Little Rusty, but Still Fantastic

Following a two-game suspension to start the season, Orlando’s maestro returned to the lineup. It wasn’t the sharpest start out of the gate, but he settled into the game and was his usual, chance-creating self. He finished with three key passes and four accurate long balls, playing Orlando through with his vision and passing range. Once he builds up his fitness — he only went 60 minutes in this game — and gets into a rhythm, he’ll be one of the top number 10s in MLS once again.

Tesho Gets The Job Done

In his 100th MLS start, the Canadian striker marked the occasion scoring the fastest goal in club history, capitalizing off of an awful giveaway from Cincinnati’s Nick Hagglund and converting 33 seconds in. Outside of that, it was a solid performance from Akindele. He had a pair of key passes and four shots. His finishing could’ve been sharper, he had a great opportunity within the six yard box he sent over the bar, but it was a good overall performance from Akindele. His workrate and familiarity within the system will make him a solid option for Oscar Pareja while Darly Dike and Alexandre Pato remain unavailable.

Kyle Smith Keeps Impressing

Joao Moutinho is one of the top fullbacks in MLS, but as we continue to await his full return — he did make a cameo appearance! — Kyle Smith has been a wonderful stand-in. The former Louisville City man continues to be one of Orlando’s hardest working and best performing players on this team. He’ll never be an elite chance creator or true lockdown defender, but he can do a little bit of everything for the Lions. Even when Moutinho comes back, Smith will be one of the first names off the bench for Pareja and is the exact type of versatile depth piece a trophy contender needs.

Still Lacking In the Final Third

It was no doubt a better offensive game from Orlando, but the sharpness still isn’t at the level you’d want. Chris Mueller had several good opportunities he couldn’t get on frame, Tesho had his aforementioned mistakes, Ruan is still a wildcard with his delivery. Orlando put only five of its 22 shots on frame against Cincinnati — one of those off the post by Nani — and will need to be sharper and make quicker decisions against better competition.

It was fun to watch Orlando grab three points at home and do it in dominating fashion, even if the opponent wasn’t exactly top shelf. The Lions continue to get healthy, fit, and in a rhythm and will look to build on this win heading into a showdown with New York City FC on Saturday.

What were your takes from the game? Make sure to leave your thoughts below in the comments.