It was not Orlando City’s night on Saturday.
Despite the Lions dominating all the statistical categories, the team fell short in the goals category, losing 2-1 to FC Cincinnati. The team’s 17 shots, with six of them on target, could not make up for the two goals they conceded on the counter-attack.
With the disappointing result at home, let’s take a look at the three things we learned.
Another slow start
The first two matches, it was a tale of two halves, where the Lions looked better in the second half compared to the first. Saturday’s match continued the trend of the first half struggles, as Orlando conceded in the 13th minute to Brandon Vazquez.
The trend is a worrying one for the team, as this game marked the first time they were punished for a slow start out of the gate. As the team continues with their schedule against better quality opponents, they will have to start matches better to hopefully be the “protagonists” that Head Coach Oscar Pareja wants them to be.
Physical play ramps up
Orlando’s match against the Chicago Fire last week was a very physical match that prompted Junior Urso to say that “We were fighting more than playing.” That game finished with 35 combined fouls between the two sides, with Chicago committing 21 of them.
This time around, Cincinnati took a page from that playbook and played Orlando almost as physical, racking up 18 fouls against the Lions, with 34 total in the match. As the games play on, the more physical teams will play Orlando, knowing that it will upset the rhythm offensively.
If Orlando is to combat that style of play, they will need to be stronger on the ball, tougher mentally when players try to get under their skin and become the more dominant team. First, they may want to put some time in the weight room over the next few weeks.
Despite Orlando holding an 84% passing accuracy in the match, that percentage in the final third drops to just 76%. Especially late in the match, the Lions became frustrated with Cincinnati’s numbers behind the ball. Even the times they managed to get in and fire shots at goal, keeper Alec Kann came up with five big stops to keep his team in it.
Those chances in the first half ended up coming back to haunt Orlando when their offensive well ran dry in the second half. Just one shot on target through the final 45 minutes left the Lions players frustrated and upset after the match.
With the team heading out west to face a good team in the LA Galaxy next week, Orlando will have to figure out their offensive stability and their execution, or it could be a long night out in Carson.
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