The Lions had another road match this Sunday vs Atlanta United. We looked like a different team in the first 10 minutes, and Pereyra must have eaten something different before the match, because he scored an absolute banger free kick and put Orlando up early. The rest of the 80 minutes was nothing short of a snooze fest. Orlando parked the bus and Atlanta provided a lot of pressure, eventually equalizing in the second half and seeing the game out for a draw. Atlanta is disappointed to not get all 3 points, but the Lions should also be disappointed in the way they approached this match.
Getting a unique face to the scoresheet and having another fantastic performance displayed by your keeper is always good, but the sun can only shine for so long. Orlando continues to struggle to generate chances, score goals, and put teams away. The Lions are the worst defensive team in the last 30 minutes of the match in the entire MLS. This has resulted in us dropping a lot of points on the road and at home. Depth is also a consistent issue in this squad, with none of the substitutions making much of an impact. For Orlando City players, coaches, and staff, it’s time to look in the mirror.
Goal - 10’ - Pereyra
Yellow Card - 36’ - Urso
Yellow Card - 45’ + 1’ - Sejdic
Yellow Card - 59’ - Mcfadden
Yellow Card - 69’ - Pereyra
Goal - 71’ - Purata
Yellow Card - 73’ - Michel
Yellow Card - 90’ - Araujo
Yellow Card - 90’ + 1’ - Yellow
1. Parking The Bus After A Lead
This has been a common thread for Pareja in the season so far when Orlando manages to take an early lead in the game. Pereyra scored a beautiful free kick in the 10th minute, and then the Lions proceeded to park the bus for the entirety of the game after that. First off, I have no clue what the Atlanta keeper was doing. He must’ve been waiting for a whistle from the ref, or he didn’t hear the original one, because he gave the entire goal away. Anyway, Orlando sat back and let Atlanta basically run over them for the entire game. The equalizer was just waiting to happen, as Atlanta got a THIRD try at a free kick. Orlando could not withstand the pressure and then almost lost all the points after Martinez hit the post in stoppage time. Tactically, we can’t be so passive and afraid moving forward. I understand we got a point on the road, but it was lucky.
2. Relying on Individuals
This was another match where individual quality was needed to get something out of the game. Even if Atlanta’s goalie was paying attention, Pereyra put it top bins and no keeper was saving that. But it took a player who hasn’t scored in god knows how long to step up and do that. After that, as a collective, Orlando could not muster anything. It was a brilliant solo shot last week from Torres that got us a point. Hardly ever does it feel like the Lions put an offensive move together. I used to blame it on early-season chemistry, but now this far in, maybe we just aren’t good enough.
3. Focusing on the Positives
It’s two straight road matches walking away with a point. At the end of the day, it’s still a decent job. If Orlando went down early in both of these matches and then fought back to earn the points, the narrative would be very different. Sure, that’s not how it happened, and fans are much more concerned about the way the team is playing, but I’m simply playing Devil’s advocate. If Orlando kept things open and let the game really breathe on Sunday, they could have conceded a couple of goals. Their offense wasn’t really connecting well at all and the only opportunity was a dead ball free kick. I’m not saying parking the bus was an amazing decision, but it was far from the worst. Additionally, Orlando has one of the best goalkeepers in the league in my opinion and it’s downright ridiculous he’s not an All-Star.
Moving ahead, Pareja needs to trust his guys a little bit more and let them go all out for 3 points, especially in home matches.
It is honestly awful timing for a European side to come to Florida, but just muster what you can on Wednesday. The focus is on league play and the Open Cup coming up soon. More goals are needed to secure the points we need to get back in the upper echelons of the Eastern Conference.
Orlando will host Premier League side Arsenal FC at Exploria Stadium this Wednesday, July 20th as a part of their USA Preseason Tour.