Orlando City (3-6-3, 12 points) dropped its third match in a row Wednesday night, falling 2-1 to the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field. Here are three takeaways from the match:
1. Fresh legs
Some of Orlando City’s youngest players were given minutes Wednesday against one of the strongest teams in the Western Conference at one of the toughest places for a visiting team to get a result.
Young designated player Josué Colmán, Homegrown forward Benji Michel and SuperDraft pick Santiago Patiño were all in the starting XI. Colmán and Patiño were subbed off for Chris Mueller and Dom Dwyer, respectively, but Michel went a full 90 minutes.
Colmán, more or less, was what he’s been since coming to Orlando City. The promise is there (three key passes), but his decision-making needs some work. Still, Lions coach James O’Connor noted Colmán’s defending when asked what the young Paraguayan needs to work on, and Colmán had two tackles and two recoveries.
“I thought Benji caused them a number of problems,” O’Connor said. “I thought he really sort of got at them. I think his pace is always going to be a problem for teams. Again, I thought Santiago worked very, very hard. He was unlucky with a couple of bounces of the ball. I thought Josué tried. He tried to get into some areas and get into some pockets.
“I think all in all, when you look at the young players, it hard just to single the young ones out, we wanted to have a look at them in this atmosphere and challenge them and test them and I think we can be very pleased with them.”
Outside of the young players, Orlando City’s starting XI, down to the goalkeeper, was completely changed compared to Sunday’s match against Atlanta United. Greg Ranjitsingh got his debut as a Lion and played well. Danilo Acosta returned to the starting lineup. Kyle Smith started. Shane O’Neill was back.
This had a chance to be a rough outing for the Lions. Instead, Orlando City stayed within striking distance throughout the match against the team in second place in the Western Conference. A loss is a loss, but there’s hope for the depth of this side.
“I feel, overall, the level of commitment and the fight that they showed, again, I think it’s just unfortunate that we’ve not got anything from the game,” O’Connor said.
2. The slump
O’Connor shook off the notion that pressure is mounting with the Lions on a three-match losing streaking heading into a home contest against FC Cincinnati Sunday.
Orlando City got off to a decent start to the 2019 season, but home matches have been a problem for the Lions. The team is 2-3-1 (7 points) at home. The Lions have also gone down 2-0 in four of six home matches this season and have fallen behind in five of their home matches.
O’Connor and his players must protect Orlando City Stadium if they want to be successful this season. Some of the best teams in MLS struggle on the road. They make up for that with sterling home records – the Sounders are unbeaten at home this season.
“We just need to get back, we need to recover, we need to rest and make sure everyone’s prepared for what will be a tough game on Sunday,” O’Connor said.
3. Mueller again
Second-year forward Chris Mueller came off the bench and, once again, showed why he’s one of Orlando City’s most promising players.
Mueller scored in the 75th minute, just six minutes after he was inserted into the lineup. It was his third of the season. He nearly scored his first goal two minutes earlier, but he fired high after Sacha Kljestan found him in a good spot in the penalty area.
Mueller was the first player not named Nani to score a goal for Orlando City since April 6. Who was the last player to score a goal for Orlando City before Nani went on his streak? Mueller, who scored in the 81st minute of an April 6 match against the Colorado Rapids.