It’s MLS Rivalry Week, and as such Orlando City hosted Inter Miami CF in another Friday night match. Right from kickoff Orlando City controlled the match and mostly kept Miami off balance. Despite that, the Lions were only able to manage a 0-0 draw against the in-state rival. What can we learn from a squandered chance to shore up second place in the Eastern Conference against Inter Ft. Lauderdale FC?
Penalty Kick Woes Continue
Orlando City earned a penalty for a handball in the 11th minute of play. With no Nani on the pitch, Tesho Akindele stepped up to the spot. Nani usually does a stutter step with mixed results when it comes to penalty shots. I’m not a professional soccer player, but from what I’ve seen, a confident shot hit with pace at either corner of the goal is usually effective. That is not what Akindele did with his opportunity. While it is true that Nick Marsman guessed the correct side, Akindele did not place the shot well, and Marsman was easily able to save the kick.
El Pulpo: Still Good in Return
In the 22nd minute, Miami sent in a dangerous corner. The ball pinged around the box and Rodolfo Pizarro got a foot on it close to goal. Fortunately for Orlando City, Pedro Gallese had returned from injury and the MLS All-Star Game in time to start the match, and also palm away that shot.
Gallese made another big save look easy in the 70th minute when he swatted away a Gonzalo Higuaín shot from about three feet when the older Miami player actually made it into the box onside.
Corner Kick Woes Continue
In the first half, the Lions took four corner kicks. In the fifth minute, the delivery was perfect and Junior Urso got a free header but couldn’t keep his shot on target. Another corner in the first half was taken short in the 24th minute. Initially, it looked like Robin Jansson had scored on a shot from outside the box, but Akindele got a toe on it from an offside position and the goal was rescinded. The shot may have been drifting wide without that touch anyway.
In the 61st minute, Chris Mueller took what was supposed to be a short corner back to Silvester van der Water. However, he hit it with a lot of pace and van der Water promptly mishandled it, passed it towards the center of the field and nearly had Higuaín going the other direction. Fortunately, Higuaín was in a race with Ruan for the goal, and never stood a chance.
I think The Mane Land Twitter account put it best.
Dike’s Return was Uneventful but Necessary
Daryl Dike made his return to the lineup, and to the pitch in the second half. While he wasn’t able to get back on the scoreboard, just having the big guy back is important for Orlando City. He had some opportunities on set pieces, and during the run of play, but it might be that there’s just a little bit of rust that needs to be dusted off. He did start to establish his physical presence the longer he was on the field. Hopefully, playing a half in a rivalry match will get him back on the front foot.
At the end of the day, this was a match of missed opportunities for the Lions. From not converting the penalty kick, to a whole lot of nothing from 10 corner kicks, this is one of those draws that almost feels like a loss. To be certain, Orlando was the better team most of the night, and while the Lions had 15 shots, only two were on target. That lack of finishing doomed the Lions to a fourth draw in the last five matches. There is nothing wrong with a point on the road, but not earning three points at home against a conference rival is a lost opportunity. Hopefully, it won’t come back to haunt the club at season’s end.
That is what I saw in the match, but let me know your thoughts in the comments below.