No Need to Panic, City Beautiful



Fresh off Orlando City’s 4-0 loss against the Seattle Sounders on Sunday afternoon, there seems to be panic among the supporters and fans. I think when we all looked at the schedule, we said that game was going to be a tough one to win, but still the panicking began. The dismal performance created quite the stir on social media, with a supporters group tweeting a “Straight Outta Defense” meme and some fans calling for Lions Head Coach Adrian Heath to be fired.

"Let's Just Fire the Manager"

First off, anyone who thinks Adrian Heath should be fired needs to re-evaluate that thinking. There have been injuries to almost everyone on this team at one point of this season. The Mane Land research team totaled 13 key players that have missed at least one match due to injury, not to mention Darwin Ceren, Brek Shea, Cyle Larin, and Rafael Ramos due to international duty.

Heath has done an excellent job with the players he had available and made formations to match the players' abilities. I have been one in the past to talk about tactics and who is to blame for the goals, but one thing I think Heath has done very well is game plan for the situation.

The 4-3-2-1 we saw on Sunday was there to make things difficult in the center midfield and limit the threat of Obafemi Martins. They weathered the storm very well for the first 30 minutes and were starting to create opportunities before the second yellow card by Tyler Turner. The second yellow is, by definition, a cautionable offense.

Turner grabs the jersey of the player and the attacker has advantageous position to goal. It is a dumb play by Turner, who needs to realize it's better to be down 2-0 with 11 men than down 1-0 with 10 men.

Then there’s the question of, if you do fire Heath, who are you going to hire? Firing Heath would mean the season is over and any team chemistry this team has started to build is out the door. So let’s calm down about firing Adrian Heath. There isn’t a better option out there and he’s doing the best he can with the resources he has — and we don’t want to be like the Colorado Rapids or Toronto FC, who seem to go through coaches yearly.

"Kaká Is Not Worth the Money"

The next thing that people are panicking about is Designated Player Kaká, how much we are paying him, and the lack of production in recent weeks. Kaká has been at his best when he has someone to combine with and distribute the ball to. Early in the season, Kevin Molino was the guy that was around Kaká, making great 1-2 passes.

We have underestimated how much we miss Molino in that position. Molino has the technical skills for the position to be either a goal scorer or a set-up man. Since then, Cyle Larin has gotten better, but Kaká doesn't have someone next to him to combine with. His play is exciting and he creates something out of nothing and he still makes crowds stand — both home and away — when he has the ball.

Why I Am Not Panicking

We are going to get Rafael Ramos and Brek Shea back. They are going to play during the final push for the playoffs. Tally Hall is going to steal a match on the road, like he did against Real Salt Lake on July 4. The schedule isn’t harsh and there are a lot of matches against teams below us in the table.

Orlando City has 28 points and is one spot away from the last playoff spot. The rest of the season they have: Toronto (A), Chicago (H), New England (A), Sporting KC (H), Chicago (A), NY Red Bulls (A), Montreal (H), NYCFC (H), and Philadelphia Union (A). People will argue that every game now becomes a key game, as points are at a premium, but I will tell you we are not going to win out.

The home games are the most critical. Those games have to continue to have the atmosphere that makes it a difficult place in which to play. I think our fans and supporters can make the difference in all the home games and get full points. The toughest game at home will be Dom Dwyer's return to Orlando, as he and Sporting KC come to the Citrus Bowl on Sept. 13.

Next are some tough away matches against New York Red Bulls and New England. New York Red Bulls, who haven’t lost a match since July 4 to Columbus Crew SC. Odds are, by the time we play the New York Red Bulls, they will have clinched a playoff spot and may start to rest some players. New England is also on a four-game unbeaten streak and look to be a top table team. New England is a team that doesn’t scare opponents but what they do very well is play very compact — something I think we can take advantage of.

Chicago is below Orlando in the table and should be a very winnable game and I think the Lions will be up for that match to make up for how they performed the last time in Chicago. The Toronto game is crucial because I think this team gets out of the funk. I think a result is not difficult but it will be all about locking down Sebastian Giovinco.

Orlando City players have seen the tweets about how their manager should be fired and the supporter group saying they are "straight outta defense," and that this season is over. I like this team when they are the underdog and they have a chip on their shoulder. This team has a blue collar attitude and I don't see them giving up.

This is not the time to panic; this is the time to buckle up and get ready for an exciting run to the end of the season, because this is where you're going to see some heart from this team. Soccer is a funny game because anything can happen.


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