Orlando City traveled to the elevated confines of Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Colorado to take on the Rapids. Normally I make fun of the stadium name, but given Dick’s recent track record, I’m inclined to be nice. To be honest, we were expecting a bit of a letdown after the late win over Inter Miami FC, given the elevation, the travel, and the schedule requirements. However, I ended up being pleasantly surprised with the 1-1 draw.
Torres Strikes Quickly
It is very important to score first when on the road, and Facundo Torres did just that in Colorado. Orlando City saw most of the possession to start the match and that played into his plan. The other thing a team wants to do on the road is score the first goal to take out the fans and also change the opposition’s plans. In the 22nd minute, Orlando City did so. Kyle Smith put in a long throw that made it through to Torres’ foot, then off the crossbar, and into the back of the net to give the Lions the lead. This is exactly the type of goal that Orlando City needs from Torres.
Antônio Carlos’ Return Was Welcome
The absence of Carlos has been evident all season. He was arguably the best center back in MLS in the early part of the season. For the first match since his return, he went the entire 90 minutes and he made some pretty good defensive plays to keep Orlando in the match. He posted seven clearances, two blocks, one tackle and two interceptions. Those are great numbers, but the eyeball test also gave him the nod.
Gallese Came Up Big
Orlando City had the better of Colorado for the first half of the match and Pedro Gallese wasn’t called upon to do too much. However, in the 49th minute, the Rapids got through and had a perfect chance, but Gallese got big and made the save. El Pulpo then went on to make two more key saves to keep Orlando in the match. Both of those were from point-blank range, including the first which saw Gallese save the ball with a trailing foot when the shot went the other way. If not for Gallese, Orlando wouldn’t have gotten a point from this match.
Depth Issue Continues
Let’s face it. There is a distinct lack of depth on this club — in particular in attack — and it showed in this match. I understand that the fixtures are hot and heavy this July. I also acknowledge that Óscar Pareja has to shuffle the lineup for these matches. But let’s be honest. Who expected the Lions to go up with that starting lineup? I didn’t. However, that is exactly what happened, and there’s no sense on dwelling on it. That isn’t to say that having Benji Michel in the attack created better chances. It didn’t, The lack of quality depth will continue to keep me up at night. Orlando needs to sign some players this window.
Rotation Road Warriors
I know this sounds weird given the previous point. However, Orlando was up against it with this July schedule. Essentially, there is a match every three to four days, and that is a tough road to travel. Getting a point at Colorado is a good result. Doing it with a rotated lineup is even more important. Let’s face it, Michel, Kyle Smith, and Tesho Akindele are not first-choice starters. However, this was a Western Conference opponent in a midweek match, with a rivalry match coming up against Atlanta United this weekend. Playing that lineup, with only Mauricio Pereyra as the substantial sub coming off the bench, was masterful. Give credit where it is due. Pareja did a good job on the rotation. However, the point remains that Orlando City needs to sign more players.
That is what I took away from Orlando City’s road match against the Rapids. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.