Orlando City never looked comfortable in this one, spending most of their night visibly frustrated as the Lions fell 3-0 to New England Revolution at home in Exploria Stadium. We saw Head Coach Oscar Pareja deploy Mauricio Pereyra deeper in the formation yet again, and the lack of Ercan Kara was again a detriment to the Orlando attack. Here are our five takeaways from the loss.
Pereyra and the Double Pivot
Earlier in the season, Orlando found great success in the distribution from Mauricio Pereyra. He was a league leader in assists for quite a while, but lately finds himself sitting deeper in a double pivot. While this does allow for an additional attacking player, with Alexandre Pato in a creator role. With New England sitting back and looking to counter, this was not a big deal, as Pereyra had no trouble getting up into the attack. The issues came in transition, where it put the captain in the unfamiliar role of tracking runners, as he failed to do on the opening goal by Matt Polster.
Lions Need a Target Striker
Orlando was yet again without the services of Designated Player Ercan Kara, who sat on the bench the last two games but picked up a knock late in the week and was unavailable against New England. Benji Michel may have played striker in college but he hasn’t been threatening enough the past few games while playing up top. Even in the 5-1 U.S. Open Cup win, he seemed to disappear from the proceedings at times. His touch isn’t good enough in traffic to allow the Lions to play through tight windows like New England forced them to go through Saturday night. Kara has good feet, can hold up play well, and is still the team’s leading goal scorer — an area that has been sorely lacking the past several league games.
Breaking Deeper Lines
The Revs have clearly been watching the recent game tape of Orlando. They chose to play a tight four-man backline with three more in front. This created a dense block that the Lions were not able to penetrate. The Revolution also played a lower pressure than the Lions have seen in the past couple games as well. Orlando had some success in creating some issues when Ruan or Joao Moutinho could get to the end line and cut passes back but the Revolution gummed up the middle and Orlando City could not work through the pack of traffic in front of goal. The Lions have to know that they will face other competition in this campaign and look deep within themselves to figure out what it will take to beat each type of team and tactic.
Allowing the Defense to Become Offensive
The Revs were without Gustavo Bou and Dylan Borrero, and didn’t use new Designated Player Giacomo Vrioni in the match. It was New England’s defensive players who did the damage. Defensive midfielders Polster and Wilfrid Kaptoum and center back Henry Kessler entered the match with one combined goal on the season. They each found the net against the Lions, giving Polster his second of the year, while Kaptoum and Kessler each opened their season account in Orlando. The Lions did well against striker Justin Rennicks and DP Carles Gil, but couldn’t keep the Revolution’s role players off the scoresheet.
Cooler Heads Needed
Despite a run of a several matches where Robin Jansson didn’t get a card for dissent, his streak has since ended. If one thing rings true, it is that Orlando City picks up a lot of unnecessary bookings. From Jansson’s dissent card, to Antonio Carlos carrying a ball away after the play or waving hands at his teammates to Araújo picking up a card in frustration after being given his final warning, the Lions have to do better at keeping their cool.
That’s what I took from Orlando’s goalless loss to New England at home. What stood out to you when watching the match? Let me know in the comments down below.