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The Loons Take Three from the Lions.

With all due respect to Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson, Orlando City was 'Lost in Transition' as Minnesota Wins 3-2.

 

Ten years ago, the Orlando City debut was at the Orlando Citrus Bowl before 62,510 fans. Ten years later, on a beautiful March night in the fabulous INTER&Co. stadium, the Lions gave up an extra time winner to Minnesota and now find themselves 0-2-1 to start off the Major League Soccer season. Here are a few short takes from last night's game.


  • Weeks ago, in my Orlando City season preview, I asked how the Lions would respond to their very difficult schedule with regular season and CONCACAF Champions Cup (CCC) matches. There is no doubt that this match congestion has taken its toll with Orlando, as manager Oscar Pereja is forced to rotate players into the starting eleven. The rotation is necessary but at the start of the season rotating players can be problematic as players look to gel with one another. There must be a better scheduling solution that CONCACAF and Major League Soccer can work out in future years. Then again, we are talking about CONCACAF and MLS.

  • Finishing. The art of putting the ball on frame and past the opposing goalkeeper. Mystifying, surprising, and very difficult to watch, the Lions had five to six chances that on other nights, or other seasons, would have been finished off. I do not have an answer for the lack of finishing and composure in front of the net, but the good news is that Orlando created a multitude of chances with twenty-one shots.

  • Speaking of finishing, I hope USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter watches video of Duncan McGuire in last night's game. I tireless work rate, great holdup play, and the ability to find space and take his chances. His first goal, Orlando City's fastest goal in history, was well-taken but it was his second goal that was an eye-opener. As I posted previously, it seems Pareja is stuck on the one-striker system, but as you saw last night, having McGuire and newcomer Luis Muriel on the field at the same time causes all kinds of havoc for the opposing defenders. Yes, this also changes the system and as witnessed last night, exposes Orlando on the defensive side of the ball.

  • Pedro Gallese's blunder let Minnesota back into the game after McGuire's .13 second goal. It was a mistake and the best goalkeepers in the world are guilty of such once in a while. So, to all you Gallese naysayers, slow your roll.


Two losses and a tie, including the Inter Miami drubbing, was not in Oscar Pareja's plan to start off the 2024 season. Now the Lions must travel to Leon to take on Tigres at Estadio Universitario late on Tuesday night. A very tough ask of the Lions, but as we have seen in the past, Oscar Pareja and staff are very clever with their tactics in a win or go-home game. After traveling back from Leon, the Lions head to Atlanta's Mercedes Benz stadium next Sunday...another tough match as Gonzalo Pineda has the Five Stripes hitting on all cylinders. On top of the tough task in Atlanta, Orlando will be without midfielder Wilder Cartagena (red card suspension) and possibly Cesar Araujo, who left last night's game with an injury in the 40th minute.


There are positive reasons the front office and the Wilf family extended Oscar Pareja's contract. Those reasons start with Tuesday night with Tigres.


Gary Levitt @gary1123 justmytake.net


photo credit: Orlando City Soccer Club

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