By Shae Beaudoin // @ShaeEliz
Raise your hand if you witnessed the madness that ensued on June 30th, 2018. There were game upon games between the FIFA World Cup and MLS. It probably got tough to keep up with, so let me break down one match for you, at least. On this day, Orlando City SC traveled north to Atlanta for the rivals’ second meet up this season. And by just three minutes in, I was wondering why we even bothered to make the trip.
Now you know I’m #CityTilIDie, but that doesn’t make swallowing the L pills any easier. Especially not against rivals/arch nemeses. To sum up the game in as few words as possible, we got the ball, we didn’t communicate, we lost the ball, Atlanta scored. Rinse and repeat four times and you’ll have yourself a full 90 minute match.
There’s really not much else to say about our eighth straight loss that we don’t all already know. Instead of focusing on the negative and complaining about what went wrong this game, I want to highlight what went right.
First off, Chris Mueller. I’ve been saying this since the 2018 draft pick saw his first minutes of play time for this team. Mueller is our key. Whether he starts or comes in as a sub in second half, Mueller continuously brings the drive, effort and energy this team so badly needs.
Take this game versus Atlanta, even in the 88th minute while we’re staring at a 4-0 scoreboard, Mueller never stopped putting on the pressure and making attempts on goal. As long as we have a player like that on our roster, I hardly care about results because I know the passion is there. I know the motivation is there. Plus, it’s been a little bit since Mueller tucked one away for us. I know he’s just itching to get his name back on the score sheet. Just wait for it.
Second, Amro Tarek. Tarek was a new addition to our roster during the 2017/2018 off season. He brings strength and size to our severely struggling defensive line. Combined with captain Jonathan Spector, these two are quite the force. Not only did he have several great saves during this game against Atlanta, but he also saw (by my count) at least two close attempts on goal off of set pieces. This needs to be applauded. Nothing is better than defense scoring. But as a former defender, I may be bias in that opinion.
I know, if our defense is so good, why did they allow four goals? There’s really no clear answer here and I wish I had one for you. If you ask me, the problem lies with our formation.
To catch you up to speed, after our devastating loss to Montreal Impact (the first one), Orlando City said goodbye to head coach Jason Kreis. I gave this man a lot of slack for never flexing off the 4-4-2 formation, but that’s more because I feel each team requires a different formation approach. With our interim head coach, we played a 3-5-2. I can definitely appreciate this change but when we take Atlanta, who’s got a strong attacking lineup, I really think we should have opted for a bit more defense and a little less offense. Or even if we wanted to start attacking strong, once we saw 2 (or 3 since they happened back to back) goals with very few chances for comeback, we should have switched up our formation.
I digress. At the end of the day, it was another loss. 4-0 in favor of Atlanta. So Atlanta fans get to continue to gloat and I will just wait patiently for the day we get our revenge.
Now, let’s talk about this coaching situation. We have a new head coach! So many fans were eagerly hoping for Ricardo Kaká to come back to us with the title “Coach” but sadly, that’s not the case. However, we did end up signing on a former Lion. James O’Connor played for the Orlando City team back before we joined the MLS.
He’s young, he’s still growing his resume, so there’s a lot to be nervous about, but I’m willing to give him a chance to prove to us what he can do. We’ve got an amazing roster of players. The talent pool is definitely there. The remainder of the season will tell us if O’Connor is able to rally this squad to success.
Currently, Orlando City has dropped to 9th out of 11 teams in the Eastern Conference standings. That’s a tough pill to swallow, but we’re not trailing too far behind those ahead of us. There’s still plenty of time to turn this club around and for us to see our first playoff season in MLS. So, hopefully, my next write up is about a win.
Featured image: @OrlandoCitySC
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