The Lions returned from the West Coast sunshine to Exploria Stadium this past Saturday evening with their World Cup qualifying players returning to the squad but still couldn’t get a result from the match. LAFC continued their undefeated start to the season with the 4-2 win, capitalizing on defensive errors and laziness from the Lions' backline. The main storyline that got swept under the rug in my opinion was the loss of Antonio Carlos from a disastrous challenge from LAFC. Without him, the backline was leaking goals left and right. A strong first half wasn’t enough as LA scored 2 in the second to wrap things up.
We can start with some positives. One, I thought Moutinho really got back in the mix. Not that he had faded off or anything, as he’s a reliable starter, but a class game from him last night. He scored the 2nd goal of the game to tie things up, as well as led the team in both touches (92) and shots (4). In addition, the offense was looking more fluid and lively. The conspiracy theory that Pereyra got carted off so he could play Super Smash Bros in his locker reigns true as he started the game and played well with no injury trouble. He actually got an assist on the Moutinho goal and got a hockey assist for the Pato volley, with a perfectly placed chip onto the head of Kara. Kara, Torres, and Pato all played pretty fluidly and established more chemistry.
But bro, Pato is the guy. There are certain players that just have that juju. The Duck oozes class. (I have zero clue why he’s called that but I’m using it now.) His technical skill is excellent as you could see with his left footed volley finish as well as his other goal that was called offside ten minutes in from Torres’ run. He can win headers, move into space, play in tiny spaces; he really can do it all. I see no reason why he should never start moving forward.
One thing the Lions cannot ignore, despite the promise they showed going forward, was the leaky defense in that second half. With the loss of Carlos, everything kinda started going to shit. From Ruan’s dumbass header leading to the 2nd goal, to 7 Lion defenders and midfielders playing hot potato with the loose ball at the top of the 18, it was a nightmare. The 4th goal really rubbed salt in the wound, as we couldn’t even break up that counter attack. All in all, lots of things can be worked on before the next match kicks off.
Yellow Card - 10’ - Ginella
Yellow Card - 13’ - Murillo
Goal - 24’ - Rodriguez
Yellow Card - 31’ - Araujo
Goal - 36’ - Pato
Goal - 38’ - Murillo
Goal - 45’ - Moutinho
Goal - 51’ - Sanchez
Yellow Card - 59’ - Palacios
Yellow Card - 71’ - Cifuentes
Yellow Card - 77’ - Fall
Goal - 90+3’ - Opoku
1. Life Without Antonio Carlos
Antonio Carlos went down after a dumbass challenge from Rodriguez. To the disgust of Lions fans, he was unable to walk off under his own power. Schlegel came in to replace him for the rest of the match and the difference was clear. Not that Schlegel is that much worse or had an awful game individually, but breaking up a tough center back pairing this early in the season is never a good sign. The fact that we may be fucked is never good. Hopefully, his recovery is swift.
2. Orlando lets in goals on purpose to make it harder for themselves
I’m honestly convinced this is the case. From talking with Gavin, the Lions have been haunted by the mistakes in the back before and Saturday was the sequel. The first goal caught multiple Lions out of position, and the second was a miscommunication between Ruan and every other living breathing specimen on the pitch. The third could have been prevented if anybody wanted to clear it, and the fourth simply was a result of a last minute “everybody up” attempt to tie the game. Orlando deserved their own two goals, but they beat themselves in this contest.
3. I think Torres - Kara - Pato can play together
It wasn’t perfect but it certainly had a spark. These three exciting Lions all started together on Saturday evening and connected well in the first half. Collectively as a fanbase, we’re going to forget the second half even happened. A dummy from Kara led to Pato playing a pass out wide, with Torres spraying it right back for a first goal that was called back. Kara got a second assist on the year to Pato, and Torres was unlucky to not get an assist of his own. He had three successful dribbles which led the team. In the second half, Kara and Pato both had their chances on aerial duels as well. I was one to question how Pato and Kara would blend together on the field, but they seem to be figuring it out. I feel like a broken record saying they’re building chemistry, and I’m waiting for the bomb to go off.
The loss of Antonio Carlos is going to sting for a while and you can only hope he can bounce back as fast as Pereyra was able to. Without him, Jansson is going to have a carry job defensively. The combination of Pato Torres and Kara definitely have mouths watering for future matches, and the hope is the offense can bail out the defense every now and again.
The Lions stay at home and look to get a much-needed 3 points in a second meeting against the Fire. The match kicks off on 4/9 at 1pm.