Orlando City came out of the international break strong, picking up four points in the last two games. But the team was missing three key starters in Cincinnati and didn’t look good. The result was a 1-0 loss to FC Cincinnati that could’ve been much worse had Pedro Gallese not been in goal. Here are our five takeaways after a poor performance.
Orlando City Has One Number 10
This was the first MLS game missed by club captain Mauricio Pereyra since Aug. 27 of last year, another game in which the Lions failed to score. The team kept the talisman out for precautionary reasons after he felt some discomfort during the week. With Pereyra out, the team was depending on other players, like Facundo Torres and Jake Mulraney, to step up and create chances for striker Ercan Kara. The Lions’ starting striker only had one shot in his 63 minutes and his replacement, Alexandre Pato, only had one shot as well.
While it was well known that Pereyra was integral in most of Orlando City’s opportunities offensively, this game showed that the team only has one number 10 that can run things in the middle of the field.
Defense Struggles Without Robin Jansson
While he’s played well in most of his appearances, Jansson has created a reputation for snapping at referees. As a result, officials are quick to show him yellow cards. The starting center back was booked almost immediately after showing his displeasure against the Houston Dynamo last weekend following a foul, resulting in a yellow card accumulation suspension for this game.
Similar to Pereyra, Jansson’s absence on the back line was apparent. FC Cincinnati found holes on several occasions in the box to take open shots. If not for the brilliant play of Gallese in goal, the game would’ve likely been out of hand by halftime. Jansson needs to learn to control himself better during games to avoid accumulating enough yellow cards to result in another suspension. This game was an example of why the defense can’t handle his absence.
Orlando City Can’t Depend on Pato
Pato was brought to Orlando City last season from Sao Paulo and was injured in the 80th minute of the first game against Atlanta United and never fully recovered. Despite the disappointment, the team brought him back for this season. In the first few games, it seemed to be a great decision, as he was dangerous in the attack. However, that’s clearly changed.
This wasn’t the first game in which Pato has struggled. The forward has been struggling for some time now. But he was particularly bad at Cincinnati. Coming on for Kara in the 63rd minute, Pato was expected to provide some life to a Lions attack that was dormant for most of the evening. However, he struggled mightily in his 27 minutes. He had two chances to make an impact and failed on each. The first was a poor touch that ended a great opportunity and his lone shot was well high and wide of the target. On top of that, his service was poor from both open play and set pieces.
The Andres Perea Experiment Might Be Over
After a good showing in 2020, Orlando City signed Andres Perea to a permanent deal in 2021. A couple of good showings on the attacking end provided some hope that the 21-year-old might be a potential future number 10. However, Perea has struggled this season to provide the same spark he did last year. Friday night, Perea only completed 80.7% of his 62 passes and rarely seemed to know where his teammates were. He also wasted a potential dangerous counter attack with a poor touch while under no pressure. Oscar Pareja has continued to play the Colombian-born U.S. international in an attacking role, but Friday was another example of why the experience might need to end. Perea is likely a better option in a more defensive role going forward.
Friday’s Match Kept Some Troops Fresh
A win against FC Cincinnati Friday would’ve seen the Lions jump up to the top of the Eastern Conference. Despite this opportunity, Pareja kept captain Pereyra in Orlando. Additionally, Jansson is rested and will be available and Antonio Carlos played 45 minutes and looked good upon his return. And if Joao Moutinho — who was listed as a starter but was replaced after experiencing some pain in pregame — can recover for Wednesday, then Friday’s match will have preserved enough fresh legs for Orlando City to be able to display a very competitive lineup in the upcoming U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal game Wednesday night against Nashville FC. Friday night’s lineup, by circumstance more than planning, ensured that certain players are rested enough that they’ll be available and fresh when the team takes the field in their next game.
These are the five things I took from Orlando City’s 1-0 loss to FC Cincinnati. Let us know what you took away from the game in the comments below.