Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Nashville SC: Five Takeaways

What we learned from Orlando City’s 2-0 home loss to Nashville.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

If only we could chalk this result up to April Fools’ Day shenanigans. Orlando City was back at home against Nashville SC for the first time in the regular season since Decision Day 2021 and the result was less than stellar as the Lions lost, 2-0. Let’s take a look at my five takeaways from a game hopefully soon to be forgotten.

Early Offensive Pressure Falls Flat

For the second weekend in a row, Orlando City did well to start the match as the aggressors and the offense seemed to connect well from the midfield to towards the Nashville goal. Great passes and all the buildup in the world, however, doesn’t change the numbers on the scoreboard and where Orlando City didn’t squander chances in the beginning of the match last week against the Philadelphia Union, within the friendly confines of Exploria Stadium the back of the net seemed to be locked up like Fort Knox. It is still encouraging to see the attack appear to generate more fluidity and chances in open play but if the struggles to find the back of the net continue, then results may be hard to come by.

Defense Caught Flat Footed

The defense did well to squash any momentum Nashville tried to generate in the first 25 minutes of the match, but in the 28th minute Hany Mukhtar played a quick long ball off of an Orlando City foul which fell perfectly at the foot of Fafa Picault. The winger was able to chip Pedro Gallese, who was caught in no man’s land off his line. This play merely caught the back line sleeping and once Nashville had a lead, it changed the complexion of the rest of the match.

Substitutions: Too Little Too Late

The match day lineup against Nashville was more or less the same one that fans saw in Philadelphia, with the exception of the return of Orlando City keeper Gallese. This set up Orlando to bring in some strong offensive pieces off of the bench, namely Designated Player Facundo Torres and MLS draft pick Duncan McGuire, along with Dagur Dan Thorhallsson in the midfield. Torres came on at halftime, replacing Felipe, but Orlando City did not make another substitution until the 78th minute, bringing McGuire on for Kyle Smith, and at that point the home squad was already looking at a 2-0 deficit. It would have been interesting to see how the last half hour of the match would have played out with fresh legs in the attacking phase of the game. Would Orlando still have conceded the second goal? Maybe, but by that time the Lions may have already pulled one back.

Mukhtar Breaks Out

Some players just possess the innate ability to hurt certain teams at certain times. It should come as no surprise then to any Orlando City fan that Mukhtar, the 2022 Landon Donovan MLS MVP, could break out and deliver daggers at any moment of the match. Cesar Araujo and the rest of the defensive unit did well for most of the night to keep the lightning in the bottle, but Mukhtar played a direct role in both goals scored for Nashville, assisting on the first and then scoring the second from an obscene angle to secure all three points for the visitors. For anyone following along this season, of course his first goal of the year would come against the Lions.

Dropping Points at Home

There is a tried-and-true recipe to success in Major League Soccer. Protect home field and bite, scratch, and claw your way to as many away points on the road as you can get. Do those two things and a club will more often than not be playing in the postseason. In the 2022 season, Orlando City was hot or cold at home, boasting a record of 9-8-0. Good teams win games at home that they should, while great teams find a way to turn losses into draws at home to save points. For the second straight home game Orlando City lost at home, dropping a potential six points in just two matches. For a team that had four of its first six games at home, the failure to protect home field could be a catastrophic trend for the season if it is to continue.

Bonus Takeaway: Sea Cow Fun

Orlando City leaned heavily into the April Fools’ rebranding of the club into the Orlando City Sea Cows. To the club’s credit it stuck with the shtick longer than I thought it would, while incorporating ocean-themed trivia into the fan engagement periods and debuting an entire Sea Cow merchandise line. Certainly a fun way to engage the fans. The only problem I saw is that — historically speaking — the Sea Cows’ record is just abysmal. It is certainly time for the sea cows to retreat back to the waterways until next year.

Those are my thoughts from Saturday’s match. What were your most important takeaways from a lackluster result at home? Let us know in the comments below.


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