Orlando City dropped a Friday home match against the LA Galaxy, falling to 4-7-3 (15 points). The Lions finished May 1-4-0 (3 points) and are 3-4-1 (10 points) at Orlando City Stadium this season. Here are three takeaways from the match:
1) More missed opportunities
For the most part, Orlando City isn’t playing poorly and getting run off the pitch. Matches against Toronto FC and the Montreal Impact aside, the Lions have been competitive.
But missed chances have undone the Lions. Orlando City coach James O’Connor said it himself before the Lions’ 5-1 win over FC Cincinnati: The team is sick of talking about good performances and wants to put points on the board.
Orlando City took 19 shots, seven of which were on target, against the LA Galaxy. Players combined to created 11 chances. It wasn’t enough for the Lions to find an equalizer after falling behind early at home again (more on that in point No. 2).
“It was a night that we could probably still be there playing now, trying to get something,” O’Connor said after the match. “For whatever happened tonight, it just looked like we weren’t going to get that goal.”
So, the question becomes, what can be done? Orlando City has capable goal scorers in Nani (seven goals), Dom Dwyer (four goals), Tesho Akindele (four goals) and Chris Mueller (three goals). The chances are being created, but Orlando City isn’t putting the ball in the back of the net.
“The longer it went when we couldn’t score, the more that they were able to think, ‘OK, we’ve got something to hang onto,’” O’Connor said. “Had we got the goal, I think it would’ve been a bit different.”
Do the Lions need to look to bolster their attack during the summer transfer window? Or is it just a matter of making the most out of the attacking players who are already there?
O’Connor didn’t necessarily shut down the idea of adding to the squad once the secondary transfer window opens on July 7.
“I think the big thing for us is just the final piece is finishing,” O’Connor said. “Whether it’s a striker or somebody who can get on the end of it, I think, again we can’t the volume of opportunities that we’ve had and not take them.”
2) Home problems
Orlando City has played eight home matches this season. The Lions have fallen behind in seven of those matches.
Friday’s match featured an announced crowd of 24,712. The stadium was fuller than it’s been in recent weeks and the supporters were rowdy from start to finish. The Wall was packed.
The home crowd – for the second time this season – wasn’t rewarded with a goal.
“Honestly, I couldn’t tell you why,” forward Mueller said about the team’s issue with falling behind early at Orlando City Stadium. “If I knew why, I think that we would have solved the problem.
“We have to find a way to stop doing that, right? It’s really tough to come back from every game, we’re just shooting ourselves in the foot. That type of stuff has to stop if we’re really going to start turning the corner here.”
O’Connor said Orlando City’s habit of conceding the first goal is something the coaching staff is looking to address. It’s an issue that dates back to last season. He added the response from the players to going a goal down is what he wanted to see – but that’s something he’s said after almost every home match this season.
3) The subs
Dwyer wasn’t available for Friday’s match due to yellow-card accumulation, so O’Connor got creative with his substitutions.
The first change he made was right back Kyle Smith for forward Akindele in the 56th minute. He mentioned Akindele’s “off-the-charts” workload on Sunday against FC Cincinnati and said Akindele started to tire in Friday’s match.
He said weighed bringing on rookie Benji Michel, who played well with a rotated squad against the Seattle Sounders, but ultimately opted for Smith. Most weeks, it’s Mueller, Akindele or Dwyer coming on in the second half.
The move, O’Connor said, meant Ruan could get into more one-on-one scenarios. Ruan has proved to be a valuable attacking player for the Lions, but his job is typically to set other players up, not to finish sequences.
Sacha Kljestan and Josué Colmán checked in during the 67th and 83rd minutes, respectively. Both created two chances.