What’s better than the 4th of July? Barbecues, hanging with family, and a day off of work. Oh, and your favorite team is hosting the worst team in the league! That’s the cherry on top right? Wrong. Orlando sucks. DC United sucks, but they sucked a little less than us on Monday. A team without a win in 6 straight arrived at Exploria to face the Lions who had just booked their spot in the US Open Cup Semifinal. DC stuck two on the board fast, then another. We scored two, but then they pegged us back. We scored again to bring it within one and they finished us off in second half stoppage time. Eight goals and five belonged to a team that had only scored 18 coming in. Gross.
I wrote this as a must-win, and I still believe that it was. This loss is going to be crippling for the confidence of the team going forward. It raises a lot of questions. First, is this squad good enough? The simple answer is no. The starting eleven that was employed was full of players who don’t normally start, but you’d feel safe that they’d be able to get the job done. It took Facundo to come off the bench to get that comeback started. Second, is Pareja good enough? So far, he’s built something promising, but it’s missing a cutting edge. I don’t give him a whole lot of blame though. I feel as though he’s done a good job balancing the regular season and Open Cup campaigns, while dealing with International play and injuries on top of that. Third, when is there going to be a spark? I don’t have the answer there, my friend.
Goal - 5’ - Fountas
Goal - 8’ - Fountas
Yellow Card - 50’ - Schlegel
Goal - 51’ - Fountas
Goal - 57’ - Torres
Goal - 66’ - Kara
Goal - 74’ - Smith
Goal - 80’ - Pato
Yellow Card - 89’ - Robertha
Goal - 90’+6’ - Robertha
1. Fountas Was An Issue
Fountas showed his class on the 4th of July on our own ground. In the first half, he stayed behind an attack and crashed the box and received a pass right at the penalty mark, and calmly passed it past Gallese for the game's opening goal. Following that, just a couple of minutes later, he beat Schlegel to an easy cross to award himself with another tap in. His movement and desire was simply too much for the Lions to handle on Monday, as they could not keep track of him, even though he was probably the only real threat they had to worry about. In the second half, he put the icing on the cake with a free kick goal that all but killed the game. A pure goalscorer, a deadly assassin, a guy who takes his chances, all phrases to describe Fountas. The kind of guy Orlando is desperate to have right now.
2. Defensive Disaster Class
It would be really easy to point and make fun of the Orlando back line. Well, I will. But also, a lot of DC’s main attacking threats came from sloppy decisions in the final third and losing the ball in transition, resulting in DC counter attacks. Two defenders in particular that had dodgy nights were Kyle Smith and Rodrigo Schlegel. Schlegel’s one on one defending is absolutely piss poor, to say the least. He is constantly on the back foot and the worst part about it is he loves to scream and yell after. Smith was caught out numerous times. For a utility guy, he’s not very versatile. It was a rough night for him, and he does do well filling into spots in the backline throughout the season. Jansson wasn’t particularly special at all, either. For me, the biggest issue stems from communication. DC’s opportunities came from not tracking runners, failed offside traps, and inability to defend 1 on 1. Get back to your roots before Inter Miami.
3. Wake Up Call
Overall, this match was a gigantic wake up call. Orlando is not as good as they think they are. Gallese can only save you a couple times a season, and even in that match, you still managed to lose. The depth going forward is pretty abysmal. Facundo Torres had a great match off the bench, providing a goal and an assist, however he was benched because it was expected that we would not need him. He’s a starting player, and Pareja is not going to be happy that he had to go to his bench so early to take down the worst team in the league (statistically). Pato is not producing like the player we thought he is, and it’s time to stop dancing around the obvious: we are extremely, extremely weak without Antonio Carlos in the back and another defender is needed to add to this squad. The Eastern Conference is officially wide open. We will see if these Lions want to sink or swim.
Worst performance of the season in my book. There’s been some shitty ones but this one hurt the most. Maybe people will say “Hey! At least we scored 3 goals.” Too little too late. How about controlling a match from start to finish? And how about not conceding 2 in 10 minutes? Just a thought.
An inner-state foe comes to town on Saturday in Inter Miami as the Lions look to figure it out.