Orlando City’s slump into the offseason continued Saturday with a 2-0 loss to the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium.
The shorthanded Lions, who were without several key players due to injuries and international duty, were shut out for the fifth consecutive match.
Coach James O’Connor deployed a lineup without a true striker with star designated player Dom Dwyer suspended and backup striker Stéfano Pinho out with an ankle injury.
“Obviously, we’ve had a lot missing, but equally, when you have a lot missing then that presents opportunities for other players as well,” O’Connor said. “That’s why you have a squad. I think, for us, we did have a number of players missing but your hope is that other players who didn’t get an opportunity can go on and show people and show us what they’ve got.”
Orlando City (7-20-4) hasn’t won a match since July 14 — O’Connor’s second match at the helm — and hasn’t scored a goal since Sept. 1.
The Revolution dominated the first half. They controlled possession (65 percent) and out-shot the Lions 12-3, but only two of those 12 shots from New England were on target.
The first of those two shots was probably the most dangerous. Winger Diego Fagundez fired a shot through traffic, and goalkeeper Adam Grinwis — back in goal after missing a match with an infection — made a diving save. It was the first of two first-half saves for Grinwis.
Grinwis ended the match with four saves and frequently came off his line to put an end to New England’s chances.
“He was too busy,” O’Connor said of Grinwis’ performance. “But, again, he can be pleased with his performance. I think he’s shown a tremendous attitude, tremendous character since we’ve been here, and he’s deserved this opportunity.”
Orlando City only had one solid chance in the first half. Midfielder Tony Rocha sent in a corner kick and midfielder Carlos Ascues got his head on it. His header was on frame, and it beat goalkeeper Brad Knighton, but midfielder Luis Caicedo cleared it off the line to keep the match scoreless in the 15th minute.
“First half, going forward, we didn’t have a lot, but we felt defensively we had something to build on going into the second half,” he said. “We thought we had some decent counters first half, but we needed to pass the ball, obviously a lot better.”
New England’s dominance continued in the second half.
As has become normal in recent matches, the Lions wilted after the break. Orlando City conceded two goals during the final 45 minutes and still couldn’t generate anything in the attack.
“We speak about trying to come out and start the second half bright and we find ourselves 2-nil down in the space of maybe 10, 12 minutes and again chasing the game,” O’Connor said. So, it becomes really difficult in a situation like that to go and get something out of the game when you continually sort of give yourself that uphill battle to get back from.”
The Revolution opened the scoring in the 51st minute. A corner kick was knocked to forward Cristian Penilla. Three Orlando City players were in his vicinity, but none of them put on any area pressure as he settled the ball and then sent a right-footed shot through traffic and into the back of the net.
Four minutes later, New England doubled its advantage. Penilla came away with the ball near the sideline and made his way down Orlando City’s left side. He sent in a cross and Fagundez volleyed it home to give the Revolution a 2-0 lead.
“There’s multiple facets to it,” O’Connor said. “I think the biggest thing is to try to have an understanding of what it is and then to have a really high commitment level to stop it from happening.”
The Revs finished the match with a 21-8 advantage in shots.
The goal was the 70th Orlando City has conceded this season, which ties the MLS record for goals conceded in a season set by Minnesota United in 2017.
With O’Connor at the helm, Orlando City has conceded 33 goals during 14 games.
The Lions don’t have much time to prepare for their next opponent. Orlando City returns to Orlando to face the Seattle Sounders on Wednesday in Orlando City Stadium for the team’s penultimate home match of the season.
“We need to get back, we need to get our head down and we need to work hard,” O’Connor said.