Orlando City lost the last match at home against DC United, but I actually found some things to be encouraged about in that match. I know a lot of people were very angry at PRO Referee, but I have become so tired of complaining about them that I’ve just become numb to their nonsense. I do think people need to focus some of their frustration on the team itself, and I’ll address that in my post.
OCSC vs. DCU Recap
There were several good things that came out of that match:
Orlando City Defended Well. For the second match in a row, the defense did not give up a goal in the run of play. Both of DC United’s goals were scored from free kicks just outside the penalty area by the legendary Wayne Rooney. Say what you will about the man’s speed compared to the height of his career, his tactical knowledge of the game and placement of balls in free kick situations is still deadly. He’s also a clever player who is happy to lure officials into calling fouls whether deserved or not. Getting back to the defense, even without center back Alex De John, the defense played tight, marking, man-to-man defense and didn’t allow DC United to get many good looks at goal in the match.
Orlando City Scored on DC United. Some fans may not realize that DC United had not surrendered a goal all season coming into last week. Orlando City scored and they created several other good chances, which is encouraging. In the early part of the season the team seems to have rightly focused on improving their defense, and now they can hopefully begin converting those opportunities into goals at the attacking end of the formation.
The Team Fought for 90 Minutes. Last year it was easy for fans to give up on the team because the players were giving up on themselves. You could see it in body language and lack of energy and unwillingness to hustle up and down the pitch. But they have been fighting hard, and even in the ugly Montreal match they still fought to get a goal at the end of the game.
But there was the controversial go-ahead goal that was helped by at least one (and possibly two) bad calls by PRO Referee. The one that was a clear officiating error to my mind was the no call on Brian Rowe’s mugging in the net. Ignorant broadcasters and pathetic social media observers who have no valid understanding of the game have said that Rowe had no chance at the ball. But it was clear the reason why is that he was tackled by Frédéric Brillant as he was moving to make a play on the ball. The opinion about whether the keeper could get to the ball is irrelevant. The fact is that Brilliant interfered with the keeper by tackling him like a rugby player and that should have disallowed the goal.
The play that set up the free kick is one that many Orlando City fans have claimed is a bad call, and on that score I disagree. For years now there has been an emphasis (communicated clearly to all teams, all coaches, all players, and all fans) from MLS warning about studs-up tackles on the ball. I do not doubt that Dom Dwyer was attempting to tackle the ball off Wayne Rooney on the preceding play, but Dwyer recklessly slid in with his studs up and threatening to slide right into Rooney’s knee.
That is sloppy play. That is reckless play. That is unacceptable play. Our players should be better than that. Our players should be more clinical and more precise than that. Our players should not put themselves in a position that the only play they can make on the ball is a pell-mell reckless charge that puts them clearly out of control and in danger of striking another player. I won’t accept it, and none of the rest of our fans should accept it, either.
OCSC vs. COL Team Comparison
This week is the second home match in a row—the first time the lads have had the opportunity to stay at home and train at home all week. Orlando City enters the weekend clinging tenaciously to the 7th and final playoff spot in the East on 5 points. Colorado enters the weekend on 2 points and down in 9th place in the West. It’s been a tough start to the year for the Rapids, and I hope their problems continue through this weekend. I’m sorry that Tim Howard’s final season may be a poor one in the win-loss column, but Orlando City cannot allow the struggling Rapids to turn their season around starting this weekend.
Coming into the match the teams are tied in scoring with six goals each, but Colorado seems to have inherited Orlando City’s 2018 defense and has given up a staggering 12 goals for a -6 goal differential. Orlando City has only surrendered 8 goals and is sitting at -2 in the goal differential column. Both keepers are playing well—Brian Rowe is tied for the league lead with 18 saves from 27 shots faced, while Tim Howard has 17 saves having faced only 26 shots. And on the offensive end of the formation, Dom Dwyer is fourth in MLS with 16 shots on the season, while Colorado’s most prolific shooter is Kei Kamara, who is eighth in the league in shooting (also with 16 shots). NOTE: Dwyer’s 16 shots have come in 300 minutes of play while Kamara has played 450 minutes, so that must account for the difference in their ranking position.
Colorado Rapids - Season to Date
|Goals Scored||6||Goals Allowed||12|
|Shots||52||Shots on Target||20|
Colorado Rapids - Players to Watch
|Scoring Leader:||Kei Kamara||2|
|Assist Leader:||Kellyn Acosta|
|Shot Leader:||Kei Kamara||16|
|Passing Leader:||Benny Feilhaber||86.7%|
|WSC* Rating:||Kei Kamara||7.43|
*WhoScored.com player rating
Orlando City SC - Season to Date
|Goals Scored||6||Goals Allowed||8|
|Shots||32||Shots on Target||15|
Orlando City SC - Players to Watch
|Scoring Leader:||Dom Dwyer||3|
|Shot Leader:||Dom Dwyer||16|
|Passing Leader:||Sebastián Méndez||84.4%|
*WhoScored.com player rating
A note on the player stats above—for those taken from WhoScored.com, I only consider players who have played at least 50% +1 of the matches for the season, so my cutoff is those players who have played 270 minutes or more so far. Some players on both teams have higher ratings, but have not played as many minutes.
Starting XI Prediction
I don’t think there’s been any reports this week to suggest that the injured Tesho Akindele or Alex De John are ready to come back, so I’m not counting on them being available. Of course, MLS has a completely useless injury report and Orlando City has been notorious for not giving anyone information about how quickly or how slowly players are healing from injuries.
I went into this season not expecting much. I wasn’t sure what we would see, but in the last few games I am starting to feel better about the core of this team. They are playing better as a team, defending more consistently, creating more opportunities, and in the last outing they went toe-to-toe with the top team in the East and didn’t give up any goals from the run of play. As they prepare to host a team like Colorado who has struggled to start the season, I’m hopeful that we will see more of the same. If the team gives the kind of performance they did against the Red Bulls and against DC United, I think it’s very likely they will win this match. So, for the first time all season I am going to predict a victory. I say that Orlando City will win 3 - 0 and score its second clean sheet victory of the young season. What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!