Adrian Heath on Orlando City’s Draw: “I Just Thought the Quality Wasn’t Good Enough”



Orlando City played to a 1-1 draw against the Chicago Fire on Friday night, and the reviews were not great.

After taking an early lead — four minutes into the match — Chicago fired back in the 15th minute, and went a man down 17 minutes later, leaving Orlando City with a man advantage for the final 60+ minutes over the match, which the Lions ultimately failed to capitalize on, settling for a point in a very disappointing draw at home.

Orlando City largely out-possessed, out-passed, and out-shot the Fire, but struggled all night long to pull anything together in the final third of the pitch, a problem that haunted the team throughout much of 2015.

"I thought we had a lot of crosses in the box, but I just thought the quality wasn't good enough," Heath said after the match, speaking to the team's struggles in the final third. "Some of the decisions were right, but the quality and the execution of the final ball wasn't good enough. At the end, we ended up with four, five men in the box and we still couldn't pick anybody out. We're better than that."

The Lions attempted just 19 open play crosses on Friday night, compared to almost 40 against Real Salt Lake last Sunday. The difference, as noted by Heath, was having a lot less room to run on the wings, as the Fire did a good job of keeping Orlando’s attacking players contained, limiting the opportunities to whip the ball into the box.

"I think they made it a little bit more difficult to get it in. Certainly against Real Salt Lake we had a lot more space in wide areas, and last week I thought we used that space a lot better than we did today," Heath said. "We had a lot of the ball in the final third, but we didn't make good enough use out of it."

It's certainly a problem the Lions hope not to face next week at Yankee Stadium.

Cyle Larin Can’t Stop Scoring

For the second time this season, Cyle Larin found the back of the net for Orlando City, opening the scoring with a goal in the fourth minute of the match. Larin had several other chances in the match to add to his tally, and is showing so far this season that he intends to prove the doubters wrong and avoid the feared "sophomore slump."

"I thought Cyle was probably the best player on the field," Heath said of the Canadian striker, who's now up to 19 career goals in MLS. "He had a great goal, should have had a couple of other chances, should have had a penalty."

Larin's off to a hot start for the Lions in 2016, with two goals in his first two games. And Heath remains adamant in his thoughts that Larin could go even further this season by hitting 20 goals.

"I don't see any reason why he can't get 20 goals," Heath said. "He's bigger, stronger, quicker than he was this time last year. He knows the league, and I could go on. I don't believe in the sophomore slump, and think he's going to get better and better. And God willing he stays injury free, he can score a lot of goals."

Nocerino Makes His Long-Awaited Debut

After arriving in town one week ago, Antonio Nocerino made his official debut in MLS with Orlando City. The Italian midfielder started on the left side of the defensive midfield and played 63 minutes before being subbed out for Pedro Ribeiro.

Nocerino only had 59 touches in the match — among the lowest of starters — while attempting 44 total passes. He wasn't overly involved in the match, but nothing totally unexpected for a guy that's still trying to fit in with a new club.

"He did what we think he could do, he's a good footballer, and he's really good with possession," Heath said of the former AC Milan midfielder's debut. "I thought he started quite well on the left with Brek [Shea], and Kevin [Molino], but obviously he has not played football for a long time. So I thought he had a decent outing and will get better as we progress."

Injury Updates On Kaká And Carlos Rivas

Carlos Rivas has been training “properly” with the club for the last two or three days, according to Heath. He’s hoping to get a good week of training in for the midfielder — who injured his ankle just before the season opener — before next week’s game at New York City FC.

As for Kaká, he's getting better, but it sounds very unlikely that we'll see the Brazilian travel for the contest in New York.

"We're hoping that they'll be nearly working out fully — Kaká maybe not, but Rivas certainly should be joining in with the group," Heath said.

When asked if Rivas had a better chance of playing against new York than Kaká, Heath responded, "at this moment yes, but you never know."


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