Orlando City finally had a bit of rest between matches before hosting the New York Red Bulls Saturday night in Exploria Stadium. The Red Bulls were the only team to defeat the Lions this season heading into the match, and Orlando City was looking for some payback.
It was not to be the case, as the Red Bulls swept the regular season against Orlando City with a 2-1 win. Orlando City had the chances to win the match, but in the end couldn’t convert enough or deal with New York’s press well enough to get a result.
Let’s look at what happened.
Slow Starts Doom Orlando
Orlando City started slowly to begin the match, and also to start the second half. In the Lions’ previous match against the Red Bulls, Orlando City wasn’t able to deal with the Red Bulls’ press. The Lions dealt with it better overall in this match, but it still caused plenty of turnovers in the defensive half. In the first half, it resulted in the goal from Cristian Casseres in the sixth minute. In the second half, Orlando City’s slow start didn’t result in a quick goal, but it didn’t help either.
Antonio Carlos’ Importance
In the 14th minute, Antonio Carlos had to come out of the match due to injury. Losing a player of Carlos’ quality that early is normally devastating to a team, but fortunately for Orlando City, Rodrigo Schlegel had rejoined the team after being away following the death of his father. Of course, that didn’t mean the Lions weren’t missing their best defender. Carlos did not return to the sideline, as he was being evaluated by Orlando City’s medical staff. If the injury is serious, it will be a huge loss for the Lions going forward as the Lions are already thin at the position.
Orlando City had plenty of chances to either tie the match, or even win it outright. The Lions had 55% of the possession, with 13 shots, and six on target. Chris Mueller had one shot saved at the back post and sent another over the crossbar. Daryl Dike had some opportunities, but couldn’t find the back of the net, and even Michael Halliday missed a shot. The biggest miss of the match for Orlando City was Mauricio Pereyra’s penalty kick that was saved by Carlos Coronel in the 45th minute. Pereyra didn’t put much behind the kick, and he put it at an easy height for Coronel, who correctly guessed which way to move.
Injuries to both Ruan and João Moutinho have forced Óscar Pareja to turn to his soldier and a youngster at fullback. Halliday is only 18 years old. I say that to remind everyone that while he’s generally improving, he’s still new to the senior team. We saw some improvement on the offensive side, as he actually delivered some effective crosses. His defensive performance was a mixed bag as he did have some breakdowns, including on both goals.
On the other side of the field, Kyle Smith has played every minute of every match so far this season, and it seems to be finally wearing on the man. Smith still made some good plays, including a nutmeg in the attack. However, he looked tired as the match wore on. Prior to the international break, Orlando City had only allowed three goals in seven matches. Since then the Lions have allowed five goals in four matches. While Pedro Gallese being out on international duty might be a contributing factor, the fullback situation isn’t helping either.
Cash Making it Rain
It was a rainy start to the match, but it was really “Cash” Mueller that made it rain with his goal in the 59th minute to even the score at that point. It was a beautiful play, starting with Daryl Dike stealing the ball from Sean Nealis and dropping it off for Pereyra, who smartly sent it wide to the Money Badger for the goal. Pereyra may have muffed the penalty kick, but he did make up for it with the assist. It also seems that Mueller has woken up after a slow start to the season, scoring a goal in each of the last two matches. As he showed in this match, he is playing with more confidence, taking more chances, and now finishing them.
That’s what I saw in the second loss of the season. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.