The Lions continue living in the pit of misery. Orlando City (7-17-3 24 points) now has just one win in 18 matches (1-15-2) after suffering a 1-0 loss at Children’s Mercy Park in a rough homecoming of sorts for Dom Dwyer and Uri Rosell. Felipe Gutierrez provided the only goal.
Dwyer had the two best scoring chances of the game but Sporting Kansas City (14-7-6, 48 points) was the team that put the ball in the net. A decent defensive effort by the Lions went for naught as the Orlando attack couldn’t sustain much of anything and Tim Melia denied Dwyer 1-v-1 on two occasions.
It was Orlando’s 10th consecutive road loss in league play dating back to April at Colorado, and Orlando City is now winless in eight (0-6-2). If you want a silver lining, the Lions allowed fewer than two goals for the first time since July 14.
James O’Connor mainly stuck with last weekend’s lineup, although Yoshimar Yotún was not available due to being away on international duty with Peru.
The first half was mostly played in Orlando City’s half of the pitch. The Lions’ plan to keep possession and frustrate the hosts could not work because SKC’s pressure continually forced turnovers and kept Orlando on the back foot. The same problems playing out of the back were evident, as the defenders and goalkeeper Joe Bendik could not pass precisely enough to escape the pressure.
The hosts had the first opportunity three minutes in when Gerso Fernandes beat Scott Sutter and sent a ball through the box that hit Shane O’Neill and forced Bendik to make a stop.
Two minutes later, Rosell fired a gorgeous ball over the top that fell perfectly for Dwyer. Dom took a touch and was in alone on Melia, but his shot was stopped by the Sporting keeper. Dwyer may have been able to simply speed past Melia and score into the empty net but instead it ended up deflecting out for a corner.
Krisztian Nemeth fired a weak shot at Bendik in the 25th as Sporting began seeing more and more of the ball. The Orlando keeper spilled the shot but nobody on the home team was there to pounce on the mistake.
Dwyer fired a laser on a 27th-minute free kick but missed the target just after he’d earned a free kick on a foul by Andreu Fontas.
The final 18 minutes of the half mostly consisted of Orlando City players cutting crosses out or clearing them with their heads. Other than a weak header by Nemeth that went over the bar, there weren’t many chances for either side, although SKC was clearly the dominant side in a scoreless first half.
Orlando was out-shot, 5-3 (1-1 on target) and Sporting Kansas City held the advantage in possession (65%-35%) and passing accuracy (89%-80%).
The second half started much like the first ended. Yohan Croizet cut inside from the right and fired a shot wide with his left just two minutes into the second half.
Sporting finally broke through in the 53rd minute. after Croizet found Gutierrez at the top of the box and he slotted home past Bendik. SKC had the ball after a turnover caused by a lengthy hold of Dwyer by Fontas that went uncalled.
Ilie Sanchez had a free header in the 58th but got under it and sent it over the bar as the SKC pressure continued. Moments later, the flag went up as Bendik made a terrific reaction save on Nemeth.
The Lions nearly tied it in the 60th. Cristian Higuita sent a perfect through ball to release Dwyer into the area. Melia came out and made himself big and Dwyer’s shot again hit the keeper instead of the netting.
That started Orlando’s best spell of the second half, which saw Sutter send a blast over the net in the 65th minute and Higuita get under the ball on a header off a Sutter cross in the 71st minute. Second-half sub Josué Colmán then sent a drive right at Melia after Kljestan slipped him down the right side in the 73rd.
From that point on, Sporting Kansas City regained control of the match and Orlando City could really get nothing going, despite bringing on Stefano Pinho for Will Johnson. O’Connor never used his third substitution.
After another decent save by Bendik on Croizet, the match was over and Orlando City had yet another loss in a season full of them.
Sporting out-shot Orlando, 16-8 (5-3 on target), out-possessed the Lions, 58%-42%, and was the more accurate passing team (88%-82%).
It was a game where Yotún’s absence was certainly felt by Orlando but also a match the Lions might have taken something from if they’d cashed in on the two good opportunities for Dwyer.
Orlando City will line up and do it again at Chicago next Sunday against the Fire.