A 17-match home unbeaten streak lasting more than a full year is over for Orlando City. An early goal from Seb Hines was not enough to faze the Seattle Sounders, who were able to storm back with three unanswered goals — all from Clint Dempsey — to deny Orlando City (5-6-11, 26 points) a chance to go above the red line in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Seattle finished the night with a 3-1 win in front of an announced crowd of 28,247 at Camping World Stadium.
Jason Kreis will have plenty to take away from his second MLS match in charge of the Lions in his effort to change the course for Orlando, which saw many old habits on display in this one, as the Sounders (6-13-3, 24 points) picked up just their second road victory of the season.
“Obviously very disappointed with the result. But I think that was natural,” Kreis said after the match. “From what I saw tonight, we saw a group that lacked energy, but we’ve been asking a lot out of them for about two weeks, so the adjustment is going to take some time, from a physical standpoint. So I think that explains the lack of energy. And from a tactical standpoint, we’re still working. It’s gonna take some time.”
An early mistake from Stefan Frei helped Orlando City take an early 1-0. Frei botched a clearance attempt on a back-pass from Joevin Jones, knocking the ball backwards over his own end line, leading to a corner kick for Orlando City. Kaká’s cross on the set piece was placed right in the middle of the box, where Hines was able to get to and head in his third goal of the season, seven minutes into the match.
The lead, however, only lasted for a measly seven minutes before Seattle leveled the game.
If there was ever a night to not want to showcase Orlando City’s rather weak defense to a national TV audience, this was it.
Tyrone Mears and Dempsey combined to punish Orlando’s defense in the 14th minutes, tying the game with a wide-open goal inside the penalty area. Mears collected a through ball from Nicolas Lodeiro in the middle of the field and whipped a cross into the box that found Dempsey, with nobody around him, to slot it past Joe Bendik for his first on the night.
Dempsey’s second came in the 37th minute, as he and Jordan Morris caught Orlando City’s back line going for the offside trap, running in behind the two center backs while they watched the ball sail over their heads. Morris, needless to say, connected with Dempsey to beat Bendik, putting Seattle ahead to make it 2-1.
Dempsey completed his hat trick of tap-ins not even four minutes into the second half, coming up with a nearly identical play on the other end of the field. Morris exposed Orlando City’s back line with a blazing run down the right side, with Dempsey eventually trailing in behind through the middle. That drew out Bendik, who could do nothing but watch as a third goal slid into the open net.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day. We’ve done a bit of work, but it’s gonna take us a while to all be on the same wavelength,” Hines said afterwards of the issues in the back from Orlando. “Some of the aspects of the game didn’t work out like it did last week.”
Orlando struggled all night to deal with Seattle’s deep attacking lineup, primarily with Morris and Lodeiro. Morris came close to tallying a goal of his own near the end of the first half, cutting inside across the penalty box before ripping a shot on Bendik, who came up with the save to deny the young national team striker.
While the Lions had some good ideas of their own throughout the night, putting together a handful of solid opportunities, execution was the big letdown for Kreis’ side. Perhaps their biggest opportunity of the match came in the 71st minute, when a goal could have changed the outlook of the game.
Julio Baptista, who had come on for Brek Shea five minutes earlier, used his head to direct a Kaká free kick off the crossbar, setting up a rebound attempt for Hines, who headed it back down into the sprawling Frei. The ball rolled agonizingly along the goal line, then off the post before it was cleared away.
Orlando City clearly missed the contributions of Kevin Molino, who sat out with an apparent hamstring injury, and the Lions will be kicking themselves after this one.
Orlando will hit the road next, traveling up to Bridgeview, IL, for a match-up against the Chicago Fire on Sunday, Aug. 14. The club will be without David Mateos for that one, as the Spanish defender picked up his fifth yellow card of the season tonight against Seattle.