Analysis: Charlotte FC (a). Weak Orlando Performance As They Give Up US Open Cup.
Thanks for the memories Oscar but it's time to go. I'm sorry but it is. People can say what they want about me riding the 'Papi out' train or whatever. I don't care. That was the weakest, most meagre US Open Cup defence in the history of the competition. Probably.
As you can probably already tell, this isn't a game I'm going to pick the bones out of. I don't see the point in analysing or rating the performance of the players. This loss was symptomatic of a larger issue at Orlando City SC.
To rub salt into an already gaping wound for this Nottingham Forest - Orlando City supporter, it was former Derby County man Kamil Jóźwiak who got the winner. In a bloody high school stadium no less! It's time for a change and I'm done pretending things could get better.
That was a normal Orlando City performance under Oscar Pareja. Dull, lifeless and vehemently insepid. It's just not on.
The Cup win, if my sources are to be believed, saved Oscar's job last season. A wretched run of form was haulted by a mini winning streak in MLS and the win over Sacramento Republic in the final.
Now, the tournament should probably cost him his job. And that's not something I say lightly. Anyone that's ever conversed with, or met the likeable Colombian, will tell you he's one of the kindest, most gracious men in the game.
And that's because he is.
That being said, he's reached his ceiling with Orlando City Soccer Club.
We're out of the CONCACAF Champions League. We've given up our US Open Cup title. We're out of the Supporters Shield race. We don't, currently, have any real, tangible chance of winning the Leagues Cup or MLS Cup. There are much more adventurous sides ahead of us, vying for glory in those two competitions.
People can say what they want, about it being early in the season, new team and all that nonsense. We haven't even reached the summer yet, and we're already out of the running in 3 competitions.
The problems we are seeing this season; the lack of attacking cohesion and even intent, the defensive frailties, the, frankly, mind numbingly boring football, have been an issue since last season. After winning the Cup, the team went and got spanked in Philadelphia, which you can probably excuse for a number of reasons. We then went and got beaten at home by Atlanta United. That was a game attended in person by yours truly. It was an awful performance.
People seem to forget the Cup win came amidst an awful run of form. We got battered by Inter Fort Lauderdale shortly after, we were beaten by Columbus, NYCFC, New England and DC United either side of the final. We were then one and done in the play-offs. Those were all cracks the cup win papered over.
This winter, there was a reset, right? Big money was spent on good players. This current team, at least on paper, is exponentially better than the one that achieved ultimate glory in the cup last season, whilst simultaneously faultering in league play. This season was meant to be better. But so far, it's considerably worse.
People are free to disagree with me; as always, I welcome the discussion. If people are happy to just make the play-offs and be done early, that's fine. I'm not.
Making the play-offs by the way. You can't even convincing argue that will definitely happen at this point... A quick glance at the current standings will tell you that's no certainty, as things stand. The estimated final standings, based on PPG (points per game), according to soccerstats.com, has us finishing 16th in the shield, and 8th in the east. Once again, barely making it. With the talent we have, that's just not good enough.
A worse team, in 2022, finished a place higher and won silverware. On our current trajectory, this (superior) squad is on course to win absolutely nothing and perform even worse in MLS. They're the cold hard facts.
Oscar, we'll always love you. You're a legend, in the true authenticity and decor of the term. There's an argument to be made in naming a stand after him. He's the one that won that first major trophy. He's an icon, but he's reached his ceiling and it's time to go.
Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja
“Disappointed with being out of the Cup. We came with the highest intentions to defend the Cup and advance, but it was not like that. The game was frustrating with the options that we had to tie it up and just making mistakes that were costly. With the Cup, it is hard, but it is what the game brings when you have these objectives and try to do things and we couldn’t get the result and we are very disappointed.”
*Cover image courtesy of Orlando City SC.
B-roll and media availability footage courtesy of Orlando City SC.