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Orlando City Succumbs to LAFC 3-1.

LAFC, outplayed for the first sixty minutes, shows their resilience, class, and pace in taking down Orlando City.


There is no sugar-coating Orlando City's season-to-date performance. Their record and lack of goal-scoring are the hard facts of soccer at this level. The Major League Soccer season sits at the midway mark, and the Lions through seventeen games only have four wins and five draws. Those seventeen points have Orlando only above New England in the fifteen-team eastern conference. Here are a few takeaways from last night and the season in general:

  • Even with their horrendous record, sitting in 14th place in the eastern conference, there are a few positive data points to consider. The defense, even with LAFC's three goals last night, sit eighth in goals against. Goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar played well with none of the three LAFC goals his fault. Stajduhar's play is especially important considering regular goalkeeper Pedro Gallese is on international duty with Peru for Copa America. Above and beyond that, Gallese, compared to previous years, has not played to his usual stellar standards.

  • Obviously, there are a few negative vibrations with Orlando City through seventeen games. The one glaring metric is that the Lions have only scored seventeen goals through these first seventeen games. No matter the efforts of your defense, a one goal a game average will spell doom and gloom for any team. My takeaways with the scoring drought are not rocket science: 1. Orlando City gives away too many balls in the middle third of the field, not only resulting in cutting off the attack, but putting the midfielders and defenders in very tough situations. 2. The decision-making, once in the attacking third, is too slow, too patient, and there is not enough emphasis on looking for a shot. Last night was an example of their attacking woes as the Lions got into the attacking third and wasted many opportunities to get the ball on frame. The Orlando goal was just the opposite. A takeaway, a quick pass into Muriel, his great flick, and a great run by Martin Ojeda resulting in a goal. No time wasted, no hesitancy, and a desire to get in on goal.

  • The Designated Players. Through seventeen games, the trio of Luis Muriel, Martin Ojeda, and Facundo Torres have a combined five goals and six assists. Benchmark LAFC, who until Olivier Giroud joins the team, is playing with one designated player who alone has twelve goals and six assists. Yes, that designated player is Denis Bouanga. We can overanalyze the lack of productivity from Muriel, Ojeda, and Torres all day long, but it is clear to me that they are either playing within the wrong system, the wrong supporting cast, or in the wrong position.

  • Luis Muriel is not or should not be playing on top with Duncan McGuire. Muriel needs to float, collect that first or second ball from the back, and wreak havoc coming forward. When on top with McGuire, he draws a second and third defender that takes away the numerical advantage McGuire looks for and offers on the counter. Yes, we want Muriel to be in zones 14 and 17, but he initially needs the freedom to roam and track back into space to receive the ball. He is not going to beat many defenders over the top, so let McGuire stretch and keep the defense honest by playing off the last defender's shoulder. Does this suggestion result in a formation change? Probably, and if so, do it as it cannot get much worse than four wins in seventeen games. I know.... easier said than done.

Orlando City supporters and some of the media are calling for a coaching change. I am not. I want to see Oscar Pareja take more chances and move players into different positions. Facundo Torres needs to play inversed on the right, Luis Muriel needs to play as a false nine (or 10+, call it what you want), and Martin Ojeda needs more playing time as Ivan Angulo, even with his tremendous work rate, has only contributed one goal and two assists.

There are seventeen games left and a total of 51 points to earn. I do not know the magic number of points the Lions must earn to get into the playoffs, but I do know doing the same thing over and over again without scoring goals is insanity.

Gary Levitt @gary1123

photo: Major League Soccer


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