Orlando City

Orlando City vs. New York Red Bulls: Five Takeaways

Here’s what we learned from Orlando City’s latest shutout loss.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City finished out three matches in eight days with an anemic performance on the road against the New York Red Bulls. After a lengthy stay on the runway that delayed the team’s departure from Chicago, Orlando City arrived late, could not shake off the jet lag, and fell 1-0 to a team near the top of the Eastern Conference table. What follows are my five takeaways from another disappointing result for the Lions.

Pressured Early

The Red Bulls had all of the momentum early in the match, probing Orlando City from multiple directions with constant pressure. Despite a major disadvantage in the early possession numbers, the Orlando City defense played well enough in the first half hour of the match to disrupt the flow of the Red Bull attack. Pedro Gallese chipped in a solid save off of a Red Bull corner kick and — despite not mounting any attacking threat whatsoever — it appeared that the road warriors might at least head into halftime level.

Set Piece Sadness

The game turned in New York’s favor on a phantom foul call from referee Drew Fischer against Wilder Cartagena when Lewis Morgan flopped, leading to a free kick opportunity for the Red Bulls in the 38th minute. USMNT defender John Tolkin stepped up to curl a shot around the wall with enough pace to beat Pedro Gallese. It was an opportunity that never should have been granted, but the Red Bulls took advantage of the set piece to go up 1-0 before the end of the half.

Chemistry Lacking

Orlando has been no stranger to chemistry issues this season and has played multiple matches without the likes of Robin Jansson, Duncan McGuire, Cesar Araujo, Cartagena, and Ramiro Enrique to name just a few. These absences were due to either injury, suspensions, or both. The lack of chemistry and various absences combined to force Head Coach Oscar Pareja to try players out in new positions and adopt a new team shape. Despite some initial success with it and a bit tighter defense, the 3-5-2 experiment is failing in the attack. Against the Red Bulls, passes were not crisp and often late or off line, runs were ill timed or not picked out at all, and multiple members of the squad looked as though they were unsure of their spacing or assignments.

Non-Existent Offense

The boys in purple turned in their worst offensive performance of the season. Orlando was out-shot 11-4 and only managed to place one of their four attempts on frame — a weak effort right at the goalkeeper by Facundo Torres. Orlando has now failed to score multiple goals for five straight matches. The offense is trending towards a historically bad place, and watching the game against the Red Bulls in real time, it seemed as if every attacking player was afraid to shoot, instead looking for the perfect combo play or through ball, ultimately resulting in turnovers instead of goal-scoring opportunities.

Strikers Gotta Strike

Illustrating the above point on a more granular level, Orlando City used four players who are strikers by trade in the match — McGuire, Enrique, Luis Muriel, and Jack Lynn. These four players finished with one single (off-target) shot attempt over the course of a combined 144 minutes. That shot came from Enrique and sailed over the crossbar in the 78th minute. While the strikers aren’t solely to blame for this, requiring some type of service from the various midfielders and wingbacks in order to receive the ball in scoring positions, it illustrates how poor Orlando’s attack was on Saturday.

McGuire’s return from a shoulder injury didn’t bear any fruit, which was frustrating, but again, it wasn’t necessarily just his fault. He only touched the ball 16 times in 45 minutes, and three of those were aerials he knocked down. Enrique touched the ball only nine times in 45 minutes, which is simply not good enough. Lynn had nearly as many touches (5) in only nine minutes on the pitch, but nothing in a dangerous area. Muriel managed 40 touches across 45 minutes, but he often dropped deeper to get those touches and wasn’t able to set up others, finishing with only one key pass. The Lions need more from the strikers, but they also need more service from everyone else to those strikers.

That is how I saw things in a match that I will be quick to forget and move past. Orlando will limp back to Central Florida for a bye week before welcoming LAFC to Inter&Co Stadium on June 15. The break couldn’t come at a better time as I think that everyone involved — fans, players, and coaches — can use the time off to reset before the summer gets even hotter in the Sunshine State.

Let us know your takeaways in the comments below, and as always Vamos Orlando.


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