It was another match that started in promise and ended in frustration for Orlando City. My purple blood is still bleeding just fine, but I'm a bit weary of some segments of our fan base bleating like sheep when things don't go the team's way instead of taking a bit more critical look at the actual ebb and flow of the match. But we'll get to that in good time.
- Cyle Larin - It's a match in New York, so why wouldn't he score? He seems to love the two stadiums in the New York metropolitan area more than most, because he's scored 8 goals in his last three matches there. Tonight he put Orlando City up 1 - 0 in the 3rd minute, marking the fifth goal that Orlando City has scored in the opening 15 minutes of matches.
- Joe Bendik - I'm not going to blame the 3 goals scored against Orlando City on the keeper. If you want to see who deserves the blame, keep reading to the Ugly section. Bendik made heroic save after heroic save throughout the first half and into the second, and he finished the match with 6 saves credited, just as many as he had at the 1 - 0 victory against NYCFC last month.
- The Blown Call - In the 63rd minute Karl Ouimette blatantly took down Cyle Larin just outside the New York area and referee Hilario Grajeda made no call. The FS1 commentators declared it was clearly a Red Card foul for stopping a goal scoring opportunity and it should have resulted in Ouimette being ejected, putting the Red Bulls down a man. Adding insult to injury, New York drew level two minutes later, and went on to take a 3 - 1 lead before the same Karl Ouimette scored an own goal in the 84th minute to bring Orlando City back to within one.
- Complacency - After the fast start to the match, Orlando City seemed to grow complacent, or at least not to understand that after suffering six defeats in seven matches, the Red Bulls would be playing with some sense of desperation. As such, the Red Bulls were not exactly reckless on the pitch, but they threw every effort they could into dispossessing Orlando City of the ball and mounting attacks. For the next 42 minutes of the match until half time, the Red Bulls kept the ball in the attacking third of the field except for a handful of minutes when Orlando City launched some ineffective counter-attacks that didn't provide much threat to the Red Bulls goal.
- Pitiful Effort - The match ended with all the stats that demonstrate a will to win in the Red Bulls favor. New York outshot Orlando City by the count of 25 to 11, passed the ball more and completed more passes (420 to 296 / 80% to 73%), had more corner kicks (8 to 6), won more duels (50 to 45), won more tackles (14 to 10), were called for more offsides fouls--which shows they were actually trying to attack the goal (5 to 0), committed fewer fouls (12 to 13), and had fewer yellow cards (1 to 3). The only meaningful stat that was in Orlando City's favor was Clearances (29 to 11), and that just emphasizes that the Red Bulls had way too many chances down in front of our goal that were caused by the players not being attentive and up to the task.
- Misplaced Blame - twitter can sometimes be a wonderful way to have conversations with people during a live event, but it can also be a way to see just how myopic and uneducated some fans can be. After the blown call in the 63rd, nearly every other tweet by Orlando City fans was about the blown call. A few people were putting the blame where it belonged--the inept performance of the team in not being able to keep the ball off the feet of Red Bulls players--but most fans seemed content to blame one poor non-call by Grajeda for the misfortunes of the team.
- Lack of Focus - In the last three matches (the loss at Philly, the tie vs. New England, and tonight's loss at the Red Bulls, I'm seeing a lot of patterns that look like the team just is not focused and hungry. They seem to give the ball away way too easily through errant passes, they get out of position to allow too many counter-attacks, and they rely too much on last second acrobatic blocks inside the six-yard box to make up for a porous defense that allows way too many buildups by the opposition. I'd like to see Inchy go high school football coach on the lads and make the whole team do wind sprints across the pitch in practice every time someone fails to pass the ball to the feet of the teammate they are trying to reach. I think that somehow the players look at a match like the Portland game a few weeks ago that made everything look so easy and they just expect every game to go that way, and then they shrug it off when they don't connect.
I call the games like I see them, and I admit that tonight I'm more than a little angry and disappointed at the very poor performance of the team overall. The absolute truth is that the New York Red Bulls wanted the match more, they did more to deserve the win, and they got the result that their efforts created. If we want to see our lads in purple coming out of matches with three points, they are going to have to learn how to give more effort, play more assertively, and prevent the other team from being able to build up so many attacks that drive so deeply into the attacking third of the pitch.
I know there are probably a few readers who disagree with me, and some of you probably have even played and coached more than I have. I welcome your counter-point and commentary, if you think you can diagnose what the team is doing wrong and what they need to do to be deserving of a result, because I don't think any fan who looks at the game with a sober set of eyes can say that Orlando City deserved three points, or even a draw out of the match tonight.
So tell me your thoughts--I'd love to read them in the comments below!