Orlando City

Orlando City vs. FC Cincinnati: Five Takeaways

What did we learn from a hectic 1-0 home loss to FC Cincinnati?



Dan MacDonald, The Mane Land

Orlando City got bull rushed in the opening 30 seconds of the match against Eastern Conference rival FC Cincinnati, falling 1-0 at home Saturday. The match saw a red card for both squads, although Orlando’s came early in the match while Cincinnati’s came late, and multiple injury substitutions for the Lions before the final whistle. Ultimately the match will go down as a loss in the record books, but something has to be said for the fact that the Lions did not let this one get out of hand and continued to battle.

Here are my five takeaways from the match.

Cincinnati finds Early Success

I didn’t even have time to take my seat with drink in hand before the Lions found themselves down a goal. Luciano Acosta got on the end of a DeAndre Yedlin long ball to start the match and dribbled through three Orlando defenders to slot the ball home 22 seconds into the match, scoring the fastest goal in FC Cincinnati history. It proved to be the deciding goal of the match and took place less than a minute into the game.

Close but No Cigar

Orlando nearly answered back four minutes later from a corner kick sent in by Martin Ojeda which fell to Wilder Cartagena. The shot attempt found the bottom of the crossbar and then was ultimately cleared out of danger, but it carried with it the chance to completely reset the tone of the match. The shot was a good volley effort by Cartagena with a high degree of difficulty, but he hit it just inches high or the game would have been knotted at one before the five-minute mark.

Early Red Card Changed the Game

Cincinnati seemed like it was poised to go up by two goals as Yuya Kubo was in alone on goal with only Pedro Gallese left to defend. Rodrigo Schlegel, whose misplay of a pass at midfield created the break to start with, came streaking in from behind and appeared to have broken the play up, leading to a Gallese save. The play was ultimately reviewed by referee Ismail Elfath, who deemed that Schlegel made contact with Kubo’s trailing leg, tripping him. Due to it being a denial of a goal-scoring opportunity, Schlegel was shown a straight red card and Orlando was forced to play a man down starting in the 23rd minute. The call proved costly for multiple reasons. Oscar Pareja was forced to sacrifice an offensive piece — Ojeda — to send on David Brekalo. The Lions went to three center backs, with Cartagena playing between Brekalo and Jansson, with Dagur Dan Thorhallsson and Rafael Santos serving as wingbacks.

Injury Bug Bites Both Fullbacks

If dealing with a red card wasn’t enough, Orlando was dealt two additional major blows to its back line, as both Thorhallsson and Santos exited the match due to injuries. Thorhallsson was originally checked by the medical staff after blocking — with the back of his head — the Cincinnati free kick that Schlegel conceded. He was cleared to continue by the medical staff but went down again behind the play about 18 minutes later and had to be helped off.

So, effectively, Schlegel’s mistake took two players off the pitch, although one was eligible for replacement.

Shortly after halftime, Santos made a valiant effort to break up a Cincinnati transition after an Orlando corner kick. His sliding challenge was a vital one, as he put in a clean tackle and prevented a dangerous scoring opportunity. However, he was clearly favoring what appeared to be a dislocated shoulder after the play and came off for Michael Halliday.

Pareja said it was a dislocated shoulder for Santos after the match and added the Brazilian would be evaluated further. Thorhallsson passed his initial checks after he blocked the Luca Orellana free kick, including the training staff tracking his eye movement with a flashlight, but Pareja said the onset of his symptoms were delayed. He displayed concussion-like symptoms after going down the second time, and he will be evaluated further by the medical staff.

For a back line that has had glaring issues to start the year, long-lasting injuries to starters could prove to be devastating, especially in a May filled with six matches.

Orlando Keeps Fighting

It is hard to maintain a positive outlook looking up the table at so many teams now almost a third of the way through the season, but in a game in which the odds were stacked against them, the Lions never hung their heads. Instead, over the last half hour, they continued to be the aggressors and eventually found themselves even on manpower again after Cincinnati went a man down in the 78th minute. While a few last gasp efforts could not find the back of the net, Orlando’s body language demonstrated that they believed they were in the match until the end. A game which could have easily wound up as a 2-0 or 3-0 result was never allowed to get out of hand. Moral victories — am I right?

That is what I saw in Orlando City’s home loss to FC Cincinnati. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.


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