Orlando City fell 4-2 to LAFC in its third straight match against a Western Conference opponent. Despite playing well in the first half, the Lions were always playing from behind against the visitors, and in the second half it ended up being tough sledding as Orlando City chased the game. Here are our five takeaways from the match.
Antônio Carlos Injured
When Antônio Carlos was fouled from behind by Brian Rodríguez, he landed awkwardly and went down clutching his hamstring. He tried to walk off with the trainers, but the pain was too much. In the end, he was stretchered off and now we will have to wait to find out the severity of the injury. To say losing Carlos is bad, is an understatement. He has arguably been the best center back in MLS so far this season. Rodrigo Schlegel is an excellent backup, but he is not Carlos. The match changed for the worse once Carlos left the match. There’s no way to know if his presence could have prevented any of LAFC’s goals, but Schlegel was caught well up the pitch on the first goal and failed to clear the ball on the third LAFC goal.
The Duck Played Swimmingly
Pato nearly scored a brace in the first half and, if not for Facundo Torres being offside, he would have done so. The first one didn’t count because of the offside call but he still made a great run into the area for a nifty non-goal. The second one was even better, plus it counted. Mauricio Pereyra started the play with a chip into the box that found Ercan Kara. Kara smartly headed it back towards Pato, who took it mid-air with his left leg and into the back of the net. Pato did more than just score a goal. He was seemingly everywhere in the attack, providing service and making runs. The number of times he was fouled by LAFC indicated that they knew he was a big threat.
Two Gifts, Two Earned
LAFC scored two goals in the first half, and both were gifted to them by Orlando City. The first one saw LAFC break on a ball from Carlos Vela to Cristian Arango on the left side. Arango sent it into the 6-yard box past Robin Jansson and onto the foot of Brian Rodríguez for the tap in. The second one was a very poor backwards header from Ruan that went wide of Pedro Gallese and onto the foot of Jesús Murillo, who put LAFC up in the 38th minute. It is the type of mistake that has haunted Orlando City in the past, and needs to be corrected.
Unfortunately for Orlando City, LAFC also scored two more goals to secure the win for the visitors. The third one was simply a well-taken shot from Ilie Sánchez at the top of the box. The final goal was a late breakaway on a counter while Orlando City was pressing for an equalizer. If not for the gifts, Orlando City may have gotten at least a point.
Lack of PRO Control
I know that PRO gonna PRO, but referee Joe Dickerson PRO’d so dang hard. In just the first half there were 19 total fouls and three yellow cards between the teams. By the end of the match, that number rose to 32 fouls and six yellow cards. Five of those yellow cards were given to LAFC. From the numbers, you might think Dickerson had control of the match, but he did not.
There were several times that late calls affected the flow of the match. There was one time that Orlando City reset, made two passes, and then Dickerson called a foul on the Lions. It was like he watching a tape-delayed feed of the match. There were fouls that should have been cards, and non-calls that should have been fouls. I know we’re sadly used to PRO referees not being good at their jobs, but Dickerson tried to stand out above the usual level of bad.
João Stings LAFC Again
João Moutinho always seems to bring his best when playing his former club. He scored the equalizer in the 90th minute of the MLS is Back Tournament match against LAFC that sent it to penalties and saw Orlando City advance. The Portuguese fullback scored his second goal for the Lions in the 45th minute to equalize for Orlando City heading into halftime. The goal was one of four shots taken by Moutinho with two of them on target. He wasn’t able to get a brace despite having an opportunity in second half stoppage time to head in a late equalizer. Oh, he also played decent on defense with three tackles, three interceptions, one clearance, and one blocked shot.
That is what I took away from the loss to LAFC. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.