Orlando City loses their first match in their new rivalry with Flamingo FC.
Well. That fucking sucked. That was the worst performance we have seen of the Oscar Pareja era. Is that a good thing considering we almost clawed it back to a draw? Maybe. But it was still so disappointing after the highs of the MLS is Back tournament.
Miami's first goal was so disappointing all the way around. Mendez's backheel was risky, Carlos' lack of awareness was frustrating, and Gallese's "attempt" to save the ball was downright awful. It was a goal that never should've happened, yet, it did. Luckily for us (or unluckily some might say), we've been in this position plenty of times before and knew how to bounce back.
We did just that through an impressive individual piece of desire from our rookie striker Daryl Dike that validated all of the fans' hype around him. Man, that was a crazy goal. It deserved to be in a game that we won but unfortunately, it will be remembered as a great goal, but not a turning point in the match as we all thought it would be.
Instead, Miami hit back with a play that was perfect all the way around. While the first goal for them saw everything go wrong on our end, the second saw everything go right on theirs. Ben Sweat's cross to Carranza was perfectly over Jansson's head so that he had no chance of stopping it. Not only the cross was perfect either. Carranza's header was looped perfectly into the back post. Gallese had no chance on this goal.
Halftime rolled around soon after and we all expected Oscar to change his interesting lineup that so clearly wasn't working and he did just that. Mueller came on for Urso and Mendez moved from right midfield to his more natural central midfield position. While a chance was created for Mueller 30 seconds into the half, that was about it for the half.
Miami did well to control the game until they started bunkering and we started pushing bodies forward, which ended up in Nani getting yet another goal this season after some good hold-up play from Dike and a well-placed back post cross from Mueller. That was it though for us and Flamingo FC were able to achieve their first-ever win in club history.
1. Were we bad or were Miami good?
Both. While we were bad, I think some fans are overstating how bad we were. We were still able to create some decent opportunities and we did score two goals. Miami, on the other hand, need to be given some credit. Their game plan worked and we didn't adapt to it. They were also clinical when given the chance and we paid for it.
We must not forget how big of a match this was for them. It was their first home match in their new stadium, they hadn't gained a single point, AND we had beaten them in the last second of the first installment of the rivalry. They had it all to play for while we were just coming off of a cup final appearance. Our performance didn't help us but they were good and I'm fine with admitting that.
2. Why was Mendez deployed at right mid?
I've been stewing over the decision since Saturday and I still don't fully understand it. My main assumption is that Oscar put him out there as a defensive option to stop Pellegrini and Pizarro from combining on the left and, to some extent, it worked. The two players only combined 8 times, all of which came from Pellegrini ---> Pizarro. Pizarro did not complete a pass to Pellegrini.
What I don't understand is why he couldn't have tasked this role to Mueller. He's a player who has the mentality to follow what the coach tells him to do and he could've done it while still being an offensive threat for us. Mendez was clearly uncomfortable on the right defensively and he defaulted to the middle, which ended up hurting us. If Mueller is on the field, Sweat is not open enough to put the ball into the box without some pressure. It was definitely a questionable call from our coach and I doubt we see it again.
3. Benji. Is. Not. A. Winger.
Either play him at striker or don't put him on. I understand that young players need minutes wherever they can get them but Benji is so poor at right-wing whenever he plays there. He isn't able to cross, he isn't able to cut inside due to his dependence on his right foot, he isn't able to take on a defender. All he is able to do is sprint really quickly and finish. Very good traits for sure but only when used correctly.
What we've been using him for is not the correct way to use those traits. Putting him on the right when we are facing a low-block ain't it. He is best used when there is space in behind a defense to run into. Using him against a low-block doesn't work and it needs to stop. Robinho, a player who can dribble past a man and whip in a cross is way more useful in those situations. If Benji is going to be used on the wing, it should be on the left-wing where he can cut in but we have a $2.3 million DP out there blocking that pathway.
All I'm saying is that his time at RW needs to end. Either play him at LW or ST and only play him when he has space to run into. Using him any other way is a hindrance to our attempt to win the game.
Gallese - 4/10
Ruan - 5/10
Carlos - 4/10
Jansson - 7/10 MOTM
Moutinho - 5/10
Rosell - 5/10
Urso - 4/10
Mendez - 5/10
Pereyra - 6/10
Nani - 5/10
Dike - 6/10
Mueller - 6/10
Akindele - 5/10
Michel - 3/10
Perea - 5/10
Robinho - 5/10
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'Til next time, this has been Gavin Rushnell and #VamosOrlando