It was no April Fool's as Nashville Handed Orlando Their Second Consecutive Loss At Exploria Stadium.
April Fool's Day turned out to be no joke last night, as Nashville, led by Hany Mukhtar, shutout out Orlando on a warm night at Orlando's Exploria Stadium. Chances not taken well and two defensive mistakes see the Lions lose 2-0 to Nashville, their second consecutive loss at home. Here are a few takes on last night's match:
Going into last night's match, and thankfully coming off a full week of rest, Orlando City manager Óscar Pareja had to feel confident that his starting eleven, with goalkeeper Pedro Gallese back between the posts, would put in a great performance against Nashville. Pareja must have also warned his players about Nashville's Hany Mukhtar, whose experience and tactical awareness is bar none in Major League Soccer. Whether communicated or not, Mukhtar played a significant role in both of Nashville's goals. Nashville's first goal, the epitome of tactical awareness, saw Mukhtar take a quick restart to catch Orlando City's backline in a numerical disadvantage. The result was Nashville's Fafà Picault beating Orlando center back Robin Jansson to Mukhtar's ball over the top and finishing well with a chip over the charging Pedro Gallese.
Regarding finishing, Oscar Pareja has to be scratching his head and wondering what he is going to do with Orlando's scoring drought. Pareja and Vice President Luiz Muzzi have brought in what many consider players with great scoring prowess, but reality (and statistics) have proved the first 6 games to be just the reverse. While Ivan Angulo and Ramiro Enrique should have buried their chances, the lack of finishing has become systemic. In the eastern conference, only Montreal and NYRB have scored less goals than Orlando's five. Whatever the player combination and tactics, the results speak for themselves.
The good news: for some scheduling reason, the Lions have time to analyze their scoring issues as they do not play again until April 15, when they travel to play Minnesota at Allianz Field. Two weeks of both well-deserved and needed rest, where Pareja and his staff can analyze and adjust the right combination of attacking players, sort out their inefficient finishing, and hopefully get striker Eran Kara back from injury.
After six league matches, Orlando City, at 2-2-2, sits on eight points, good for seventh place in the eastern conference. My math tells me that this long MLS season has twenty-eight games to go - plenty of time for Oscar Pareja and company to untie the offensive weapons and get Orlando City going down the track in a positive way.
Gary Levitt @gary1123 justmytake.net
photo credit: Associated Press