Mere days after a huge win against the Philadelphia Union, Orlando City traveled to Yankee Stadium to take on New York City FC. Unfortunately, this result wasn’t as pleasant as Thursday night’s. Any loss in MLS is tough to take, but a 5-0 dismantling of a team that is sitting near the top of the table is truly difficult to understand. There are plenty of reasons for the result, but let’s look at what can be learned from a match like this.
A Questionable Lineup
What happens in a match is often a direct result of which players a coach puts on the field. I’m not saying that Orlando Head Coach Óscar Pareja sacrificed this match to the gods of schedule congestion, but I’m also not ruling it out. There were two goalkeepers and five defenders on the bench for this match. That’s on top of Orlando City being without Nani, Chris Mueller, Daryl Dike, Tesho Akindele, Mauricio Pereyra, and Alexandre Pato for this match. It was always going to be a tough job, but frankly, the player selection was incomprehensible.
Pedro Gallese Mostly Played Well
With the scoreline, you might assume that Gallese didn’t do much in goal, but that wasn’t the case. NYCFC tallied 15 shots on goal and El Pulpo made nine saves. Some of those saves were exceptional. On at least three of the goals, Gallese played correctly but there was no stopping them. If not for Gallese, NYCFC may have scored even more. It was a horrible effort on the part of Orlando City, but it could have been much worse. The biggest concern regarding Gallese is the knock he took at the end of the match. Unfortunately, the injury is on his lower body, and that never bodes well for an Orlando player.
Lack of Chances
It’s hard to score goals when you can barely get out of your own half. Orlando City’s back line included three starters. Yes, I’m including Kyle Smith as a starter at this point given he’s started and played every minute of every match until Pareja subbed him off at halftime. Things weren’t looking good before he was subbed, but definitely got worse once he did. There was no effective movement up the field and too many giveaways, especially in the midfield. The Lions only managed five total shots, putting three on target, versus 23 shots with 15 on target for NYCFC. Even if Orlando City had scored on every shot it put on target, the result would still be a loss.
Shape Change, No Change
Pareja switched up the shape to start the second half, bringing on Robin Jansson and Ruan to create a three-man back line featuring Jansson, Antonio Carlos, and Rodrigo Schlegel so that the fullbacks could hopefully push forward. The result was NYCFC’s second goal as Ismael Tajouri-Shradi put a rocket in the upper left corner. That formation also theoretically allows for five along the back for better defense. After João Moutinho came on in the 57th minute, Orlando City had its first choice back line, plus Schlegel, and then gave up three more goals.
Yankee Stadium is Horrible
It is utterly ridiculous that MLS allows NYCFC to host matches on that joke of a field. Not only is it blatantly too small for a soccer match, but players were slipping all over the field at the beginning of the match thanks to the grass that is temporarily put down to cover the baseball infield. There were other times when it looked like a local parks and recreation match because the players had to be so close to each other. The tightness of the spacing made for ugly play, no matter which club you support. While the size of the pitch doesn’t account for the lopsided score, the experience of playing on that surface has to provide NYCFC the biggest home field advantage in MLS.
That is what I saw in a match I’m going to try and forget as soon as I possibly can. If you’re up for it, let me know your thoughts in the comments below.