Ok, let’s get one thing cleared straight away. I don’t think the goal should have been disallowed, but I also understand why it was. Call me a coward for jumping in the middle but the ball struck Kara’s hand in the build-up of a goal, by the rules it should not stand. If it happened to the Lions, I bet we would have wanted the same outcome. However, I’m not a fan of long VAR reviews for the most part. Things need to be CLEAR and OBVIOUS. On the other hand, I don’t really think Orlando deserved a win tonight to be honest. They didn’t create too many good opportunities in my opinion, besides, of course, the (no) goal. The press and counter press was working effectively in the first 15-20 minutes but again, similarly to the first half vs Montreal, they were not able to be effective with it.
However, there are definitely some positives to take along with it. First road match against a very physical Chicago Fire who have made some key moves this offseason within the likes of Shaqiri and Czichos. Shaqiri, in my opinion, was pretty solid throughout the match. You can always tell when a player has a certain class, a certain aura about them. Even though nothing came off in the final third the way the Fire would have liked, he still had a promising match.
As for the result, I almost predicted a tie too. I was very close. I went with a 1-0 win which is technically, almost, precisely, nearly what happened. But can I be completely honest, this was a tough watch. Meh, I really wanted to see some more action in this match. A draw is not the worst thing for this up-and-coming team, but they need to be more creative in the final third. Pereyra, Pato, Michel, Torres. We know what these cats are capable of. The home crowd of Orlando definitely helped them battle through that heat and get the win vs Montreal, cause for a lot of this match it didn’t feel like the same side.
I don’t want to be a massive hater though, there were still some promising moments. The defense looked solid. Gallese had 4 saves, giving him his 12th shutout in his 3rd season. While new signings Torres and Kara didn’t exactly have that final spark, it’s clear they’re in the full time plans for this attack. The press is a real deal tool for this Orlando team. They got the legs up top to frustrate defenses in possession. The main goal now is capitalizing on those moments where you pick up the loose balls. On a different day, that goal is not called back from VAR. But that’s footy.
Yellow Card - 12’ – Herbers
Yellow Card - 63’ - Navarro
Yellow Card - 79’ - Duran
Yellow Card - 81’ - Sekulic
Yellow Card - 90’- Araujo
Yellow Card - 90’ - Gimenez
Yellow Card - 90’ - Gallese
1. Defense wins MLS cups
For those Orlando fans that were worried about the loss of Jansson coming into this match, and rightfully so, I bet they were pretty relieved to see the performance from that backline last night. Schlegel fit in beautifully where Jansson would have been, and he barely put a foot wrong in the match. As a former CB, you simply just want to keep possession and win your 1v1’s with attackers. He did a solid job. It’s a tough task to go on the road vs attackers like Shaqiri in a cold, windy, and loud Soldier Field, but a big bright spot to take away is the defense now has started the season with 2 clean sheets.
2. On the Other Hand…
Where was the offense? Look I know we had the goal ruled out and all that, but Orlando officially finished with 0 shots on target. Goose eggs. Torres was getting clattered all night, Pato didn’t follow up with his home debut performance. Kara looked more promising when he came on. Michel was a bum I’m sorry. He was not executing in the build up play the way I would have liked and would waste chances that the midfield worked so hard to provide for him. Torres looks like the one true winger you can depend on this season to get creative. It didn't help that the Fire were trying to break his legs.
3. The MLS is a big deal now
I’m kind of loving how competitive and strong this league is becoming. Chicago had an awful season last year. They couldn’t score and they couldn’t defend. To answer that, you get physical, and physical they were. They also picked up a top European talent in Shaqiri. Orlando went and got some quality talent this summer. The atmosphere at Soldier Field was loud and proud. I was also able to attend the Revolution game on Saturday and that atmosphere was amazing too, with the Revs looking like a top team in the Eastern conference. This league has come a long way and soccer in the United States is really getting the attention it deserves. When I was watching this game I could feel the excitement levels from everybody, quite similar to when I watch European football. As an avid fan of the game, I think the MLS will continue to grow for years and years to come. VAMOS!
Look, the Lions are truly going to be fine. A strong keeper and a composed backline is key for football success and it looks like we have that. The midfield keeps the ball well and wins tackles. The offense sooner or later will begin clicking and the goals will come. I’m not worried, but eventually, the performances need to connect at home and on the road.
The Lions return home to bounce back against FC Cincinnati on March 12th at 7:30 pm.