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Orlando City vs. FC Cincinnati: Five Takeaways

What did we learn from the Lions’ first loss of the season?

MLS: FC Cincinnati at Orlando City SC Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando City failed to take any points against struggling FC Cincinnati in a 2-1 home loss that will ultimately leave a sour taste in the mouths of the Lions. Orlando would have hoped to come out with a win or at worst a draw against a Cincinnati club that had lost 14 straight prior to their matchup with Orlando on Saturday night. Unfortunately, Orlando could not come out with even one point.

Here are five takeaways that I gathered from the Lions’ match-up against the Orange and Blue.

Chance After Chance in the First Half

Even though this loss will sting for a few days, let’s start by looking at some positives from the game. It seemed as though Orlando City could score at any second in the first half as the Lions produced chance after chance towards the Cincinnati net. Orlando led in possession (65.7%), shots (8), shots on goal (5), and crosses (11) in the first half, which made it all the more surprising that it took 42 minutes for the Lions to get their first goal of the match. The goal came when a cross from just outside the box off the foot of Facundo Torres flew nicely to the head of Junior Urso, who put the ball in the net to tie the game. It should be noted that Cincinnati goalkeeper Alec Kann showed great poise to keep the Orlando offense at bay for so long and only allow one goal during this blistering stretch from Orlando in the first half.

Cincinnati Made the Most of its Counterattack Opportunities

Cincinnati only spent 30.7% of the match with the ball, whereas the Lions had the ball for 69.3% of the night. The visitors made up for the possession deficit by maximizing the counterattack. Brandon Vazquez took advantage by scoring twice — once in the 13th minute and again in the 53rd minute. Cincinnati paled in comparison to Orlando in total passes, with only 270 on the match compared to Orlando, which had 589 total passes on the night. With so few passes and so little time of possession, Cincinnati had to find other ways to score against Orlando. The Orange and Blue were able to take advantage of their few transition opportunities.

Cincinnati Gets Physical

It appears that Cincinnati watched the film of last weekend’s match-up between Orlando City and the Chicago Fire. Cincinnati came out of the gates being physical and slowing play down with lots of fouls. Ercan Kara was taken down twice in the box — both deemed legal — and Facundo Torres was likewise bodied by the Cincinnati defense. Cincinnati had more fouls (18) than Orlando (16) and more yellow cards (4) than Orlando (3), not to mention two of the Lions’ yellow cards came from arguments with referee Chris Penso, and not from anything physical. With this same issue coming up two weeks in a row, it is something that the coaching staff will have to address to prevent other teams from exploiting.

Pereyra Struggled at Times

Captain Mauricio Pereyra did not look like his normal self, at times struggling to make the right play at the right time. His crucial turnover in the 13th minute led to the first Cincinnati goal. Pereyra did not look in sync with the rest of his teammates at times, and he was consistently being trapped by Cincinnati defenders in the middle of the pitch. He took an unnecessary shot from well outside close range which wasted one possession, where a good pass could have set up a goal elsewhere. He also missed the net badly on a last-minute opportunity for the Lions that could have tied up the game and possibly seen Orlando come out with at least a point from an otherwise disappointing evening. There were also some plays that he simply didn’t see in the second half. Pereyra didn’t see a smart run by Alexandre Pato midway through the second half that could have generated a scoring chance and he similarly didn’t see Benji Michel’s run into space in the closing minutes.

Strong Night for the Bear

Junior Urso had another solid all-around game. Aside from scoring Orlando City’s only goal of the night, the Bear was full of energy, drawing five fouls on Cincinnati, and attempting a team-high four shots, with three of those on target. He also finished the night with a key pass, three tackles, an interception, and an 86.3% passing rate. Urso is the Lions’ leading goal scorer on the young season and he seems poised for his best year yet in Orlando City purple.

These are the things that I saw from Saturday night’s match-up. Let me know what you all thought in the comments below.