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Orlando City. A Tough Start to 2024.

Updated: Mar 26

Where Does Orlando City Go from Here?


 

Similar to the start of the 2023 season, Orlando City has had to deal with match congestion and unfortunate injuries and suspensions. Off to an 0-3-1 start to the season, Oscar Pareja and his staff now have an opportunity, as they did last season, to pivot and get the Lions on a positive path. Here are a few observations:


  • Playing away to an in-form Atlanta side before 42,000+ spectators is always a difficult task. Then add-in the combination of Champions Cup and MLS matches, without Wilder Cartagena and Cesar Araujo, and you face a touch, uphill battle. Clinical finishing by Atlanta United kept Orlando winless through four matches.

  • There are some positive trends with the Lions, two of them being newcomer Luis Muriel and second-year player Martin Ojeda. Muriel, as he gains minutes, is showing us his quality and form. Muriel works hard, comes back to receive the first or second ball from the back, and has the presence to receive, turn, and take on defenders. It is inevitable that Muriel will be a factor as the season progresses. The same holds true for Ojeda, who with more playing time is showing his ability to get into channels and help move the ball quickly on the attack.

  • Orlando City's ethos under Oscar Pareja is to work hard and they did that on Sunday night. At times, Orlando City came into the game well and looked good for short spurts in the first half. That 'never give up attitude' always pays dividends with Orlando City, especially as the long and hot season wears on. Kyle Smith's performance on Sunday night was fantastic, with Pereja playing him as a pseudo-six in front of the back four. Smith was instrumental in breaking up Atlanta's build-ups and counterattacks, showing his massive work rate and uncanny ability to get into tough tackles.


There is some upside with the schedule. No mid-week game this week, and after Austin and NY Red Bulls, the Lions get a two-week break to start off April. Will the break in the schedule help? Can Araujo get over his ankle injury and get match fit? Will Duncan McGuire and Luis Muriel, as well as the other attacking players start scoring goals? Those are questions we hope to find answers to starting Saturday night with Austin F.C.


Gary Levitt @gary1123 justmytake.net


photo credit: Orlando City Soccer Club

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