If your team is floundering, just play Orlando City. The New England Revolution hadn’t scored in two games and hadn’t won in six, but had no trouble dispatching the Lions 3-0 at Exploria Stadium. Orlando (8-10-6, 30 points) fell below the playoff line with the team’s continued lack of any kind of quality in league play — especially at home — in falling embarrassingly to the Revs (7-7-9, 30 points) on their own pitch.
Matt Polster, Wilfrid Kaptoum, and Henry Kessler scored for the visitors. For Polster, it was just his second goal of the season, and the other two Revs each scored their first.
The Lions fell to 5-7-0 at home and there will be no help forthcoming after the front office squandered the recent midseason secondary transfer window while everyone else in the conference got better.
“Difficult night for us,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “We couldn’t (finish), but I think it’s much more than that, because through the game, we were losing energy. And then second half, it was painful for us and we couldn’t find the rhythm and and we stopped just being dangerous as well.”
Pareja’s starting lineup included Pedro Gallese in goal behind a back line of Joao Moutinho, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, and Ruan. Cesar Araujo played central midfield next to the deep-lying Mauricio Pereyra behind an attacking line of Junior Urso, Alexandre Pato, and Facundo Torres, with Benji Michel up top for the third straight match. Ercan Kara picked up a knock late in the week and wasn’t in the game day roster, but the two newest Lions — Ivan Angulo and Wilder Cartagena — were on the substitutes’ bench.
The Revs came in with the idea of staying deep, gumming up the middle, and trying to hit on the counter and it worked. The Lions couldn’t work through the defense with passes that were precise or quick enough to create the defense any issues. New England used Orlando’s poor passes or deflections to jumpstart transition opportunities.
Kaptoum and DeJuan Jones sent some dangerous balls into the area in the early going but Gallese dealt with them. Jones came within inches of picking out Justin Rennicks in the 17th minute with a dangerous cross. The breakthrough came three minutes later.
A routine ball up the middle was won by New England and quickly sent up field. Polster made a run from a deep-lying position and neither Pereyra nor Ruan picked him up. Polster’s first touch off a Tommy McNamara pass was good and his second sent the ball past Gallese to open the scoring in the 20th minute.
“I think the first goal when they scored, we tried to do our best. We tried to push them. We took a surprise goal and that changed the game,” Pato said. “
Things could have gotten worse moments later when Urso conceded an unnecessary free kick just outside the area but Carles Gil’s shot hit the wall.
The Lions woke up a bit after that in terms of getting shots away but didn’t do much with them. Torres sent in a dangerous cross from the left to the far post that Djordje Petrovic misplayed but no Lions were in position to take advantage. Pereyra sent in a good ball over the top to Ruan down the right and the fullback won a corner. The service fell to Urso on the far side but he took a touch to settle it and by then the defense was in position to block it. That was Orlando’s first shot and it happened in the 27th minute.
Michel headed a corner kick cross on frame in the 31st minute but it was cleared away in front.
Orlando’s most dangerous chance came in the 33rd minute when Urso laid off for Pato at the top of the area. Pato smashed his shot on target but it was just a bit too close to Petrovic, who still had to make a great save to keep it out.
Pato missed the net with an effort in the 35th minute and Pereyra and Urso also sent errant shots from around the perimeter as the Revolution continued to prevent the Lions from breaking through the defense. As a result, the low-percentage shots were often rushed or hit out of frustration and offered little threat.
Jansson and Araujo did just enough late in the half to prevent a clear-cut chance in their own box, with the Uruguayan midfielder taking the ball from Gil, who flopped to try to get a penalty call but referee Ramy Touchan wasn’t buying it.
The Revs took their 1-0 lead into the break. Orlando led in possession (53.4%-46.6%), shots (8-6), shots on goal (2-1), and corners (3-1), but the Revs passed more accurately (87.8%-87.6%) and had the only goal of the half.
The Lions continued looking for a way through in the second half but New England stood its ground. Torres sent the first shot toward goal in the second period but his effort from the distance on theleft skipped wide of the right post.
Pereyra sent a layoff from Michel into the upper deck in the 51st minute with plenty of room to shoot and moments later, the Revs put the game away.
A simple ball in from the right to an unmarked Kaptoum allowed the Revs’ other defensive midfielder to match Polster with a goal.
Torres should have pulled one back in the 60th minute when a ball in from the left intended for Pato fell perfectly for him but the Uruguayan hit the right post squarely with a lot of net at which to shoot.
Michel sent a free header wide three minutes later, as the opposition’s net continued to be the safest place in the stadium.
Jones showed his solidarity with Orlando’s players by sending a shot well off target in transition in the 69th minute.
New England finished its business in Orlando with a goal off a set piece in the 75th minute. After an attacking move that appeared offside, Carlos knocked the ball behind to concede the corner. Gil sent in a good ball and Kessler was easily able to head it past Gallese to make it 3-0.
After Kessler’s goal the team basically had a kick-about to finish off the remaining time, passing around the outside and then eventually passing to a New England center back just to have something different to do.
Gallese made a good save in stoppage time on Brandon Bye to prevent things from getting worse.
And that was that. A New England team that was winless in six games, didn’t have Dylan Borrero or Gustavo Bou, and didn’t play Giacomo Vrioni had no trouble blasting Orlando City.
The Lions finished with more possession (53.2%-46.8%), shots (18-11), and corners (4-3), and passing accuracy (88.4%-84.8%), but the Revs got more shots on target (5-3).
“We are in the storm right now,” Pato said of the team’s form.
“The numbers are not a secret for us that we have been disappointed at home, especially where we used to be very strong,” Pareja said. “The question comes from what’s next then? And I don’t know any other answer to that than just keep working and keep moving forward and keep trying to fix the things. What we think we’ll do is to refresh this group,” Pareja said. “That’s what we’re going to do in the next two days — try to rest and try to get some energy back.”
Next up for Orlando City is a trip to Red Bull Arena to take on the New York Red Bulls next Saturday night. Much has to change or this once-promising season is going to end very badly for the Lions.