Orlando City went on the road and lost 3-1 to the Philadelphia Union resulted in the first three-game losing streak of Oscar Pareja’s tenure. With road matches against the top two teams in the Eastern Conference awaiting the Lions, it’s important for them to move past this loss and find their form.
But before we move on, let’s look into what can be learned from Sunday’s effort.
Absences Loom Over the Lions
The last few months have been devastating on the injury front for Orlando City. Coming into this game, the injury report was filled with names and both Nani and Andres Perea were absent after receiving red cards. Early in the first half Robin Jansson took a knock that left him limping for a bit but thankfully didn’t force him off the field. However, Joey DeZart had to be subbed off in the 20th minute, forcing Homegrown Player Raul Aguilera Jr. to come into the match early on. The relentless nature of fixture congestion and international duty have brutalized the Lions so far, affecting yet another result on Sunday.
Pereyra Pulls the Strings
When Orlando had the ball and made things happen, midfielder Mauricio Pereyra was often at the heart of it. The Uruguayan hasn’t always been at his best in 2021, but he delivered a strong game for a side devoid of other natural creators. His beautiful assist to Ruan was the obvious highlight, but he had several other great balls that at least gave the Lions chances to push forward or put players into dangerous spots.
Defensive Midfield Woes Continue
Poor midfield play continues to plague Orlando City. It’s hard to blame Aguilera for his performance in this game as he was forced onto the field after DeZart’s injury. Without Sebas Méndez, Uri Rosell, or Perea, there just wasn’t much presence in the middle of the field for Orlando. Pereyra and Junior Urso did well hustling to give Orlando someone to play through, but the defensive burden was placed almost entirely on the center backs. Bad giveaways didn’t help in that department either.
Poor Discipline Rears Its Ugly Head
Seven Orlando City players were carded in this game, including a straight red card for Antonio Carlos after he pulled Sergio Santos down in the box. Maybe it’s harsh to blame the players considering officiating can be hit or miss — and it seemed to lean heavily towards a miss in this match — but the sloppiness that leads to cards was definitely there. Aguilera, Benji Michel, Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, Ruan, and Pedro Gallese all picked up yellow cards in a variety of ways. Regardless of any officiating mistakes, Orlando needs to be more disciplined overall and not hurt itself in big games moving forward.
Ruan Shows His Quality
Let’s end on a positive since those feel few and far between right now. Say whatever you want about his defensive performance, Ruan’s ability as an outlet in a more conservative shape was valuable in this game. Orlando played behind the ball quite a bit, and most of its best chances or possessions, particularly early in the game, came when Ruan was played in behind Philadelphia’s Kai Wagner. His offensive work even got him a goal with a nice run off of Wagner and a clean header. With so many of Orlando’s attacking players sidelined, it’s been nice to see the quick Brazilian score twice in these past two games.
Those were my biggest takeaways from Sunday’s loss, but what did you see? Leave your thoughts and takeaways in the comments below.