New York City. The concrete jungle where dreams are made of, there's nothing you can't do. Well, that's not strictly true is it? Orlando City didn't seem like they could defend there. It also apparently makes head coaches feel like they can rotate their entire squad against a high intensity team on a baseball pitch. This city has so often been seen as a symbol of hope and optimism, Lady Liberty and all that. It feels like nothing of the sort right now. This defeat hurts, and so it should.
The, frankly, bizarre tactical decisions from Oscar Pareja immediately handed the initiative to the home side. And they are a good team, make no mistake about it. It was a comfortable victory for Ronny Deila's men, and they could've scored more than the 5 they did net. It was a languid performance. It was characterless and gutless. Tedious and eternally exasperating to watch. Maybe it was the 5 Strongbow Dark Fruits that I drank during the game, but my initial reaction was one of Kylo Ren-esque anger. And it still is to be honest. I'm livid.
Of course, the players have to take some of the blame as well. They basically gave up after the second goal. We now go into those games on the back of a hiding. Oscar Pareja dropped the ball. Not to put too fine a point on it... Wait, no. Screw it. He f*cked up. That's it. If you want positivity by the way, I'd probably stop reading this right now. The gloves are off.
The OC Twitterverse showcased a few tweets that were of a more, how should I say... Positive disposition. He's managing minutes', 'we have 4 games in 2 weeks'. When you have just gained ground on the pack leaders with an impressive win over Philadelphia, you don't then go and surrender that immediately. Not if you want to win something. And I don't buy into the notion of 'we have 2 games in 3 days, he needed to rest players here'. NYCFC have had 2 in 4, albeit both at home. They had every one of their big hitters out. And guess what? They're the ones with the points now. We're the ones who are 3 points further back in the east, with the Lion's goal difference and defensive records taking a significant hit. And the Supporters Shield? Seems like a distant dream right now. Also, stop with the Yankee Stadium excuses. Yes, it's a crap surface. But guess what, they have to play on it too. Admittedly they have more practice, but still. It's not an excuse.
Your mentality, as a club with aspirations, has to be 'win the next game'. That has to be your mantra. Don't worry about Atlanta. Or Fort Lauderdale. Don't get me wrong, there are times when playing for a point is OK. This was not one of them. Orlando have no increased the pressure and need to get wins in two games that are already loaded with anticipation. We had NYCFC first. We should have tried to take care of business, and then worry about the next 2 games. If we'd have gone down fighting, I'd possibly feel differently. As it happens we didn't. This defeat was wholly unacceptable in every way. It was a disgrace.
The starting XI Orlando City put out was always asking for trouble. With such a defensive set up, against a team that, before this game, had scored 21 goals and had an overall home XG rating of 1.85, something is always going to give. NYCFC are a very good team, who play on a very narrow surface, they're always going to pack the midfield and try to pen you in. Which is exactly what they ended up doing, there was no outlet for Orlando to go to. The game needed the direct play of Chris Mueller and Nani. It also needed a combative midfield. JOEY DeZart did OK, at times, but he's inexperienced. Uri Rosell is not 100% match sharp, and has never been the sort of player to fly into tackles. They played through us, every time and it was so easy. If you look at the game stills in figures 1 and 2, you'll see that NYCFC often had the run of the midfield. Even though the pieces were all wrong, there was a real lack of energy and fight. It was embarrassing.
Figure 1 shows a game still from the first half, where Orlando just decided to give NYCFC all the time in the world.
Figure 2 shows a game still where they decided to give them even more time.
I had considered going into a bit more depth with the analysis side of things, but you can over analyse something. And this is one of those times. It would almost come across as excuse making, and I do not want to do that. This performance does not deserve that. Orlando were uncharacteristically timid. There was no Lion roaring, this was a cat that was cowering behind the sofa because the annoying kid from next door has become over zealous in his petting. So, I'm not going to say anything more about the tactical side of the game. We didn't set up correctly, and we didn't fight as we should. That was the problem. We just have to hope this was a one-off, as I'm sure it is.
The Orlando City fanbase
It'd be disingenuous of me to mention any of the players here, none of them were good enough. So instead, I'm giving a shout out to the Orlando City fans. Whether you travelled up to NYC for the game, whether you watched the game from home, in a bar, wherever. Or even if you were watching early in the morning from Europe or the UK, like us poor sods in Orlando City UK. You guys, all Orlando City fans, you're the real MVP. And you deserved better than that insipid, timid performance and embarrassing team selection.
Gallese -7- Between he and Ashlyn Harris, I've a lot of sympathy for goalkeepers this week. Hopefully his injury isn't too bad.
Smith -5- Poor.
Antonio Carlos -5- Poor.
Schlegel -5- Poor.
Mas -5- Poor bloke, no match minutes in months and we throw him up against pace on a baseball field. Come on.
Rosell -5- Poor.
DeZart -5- I'm not that mad at you Joey, you were set-up to fail.
Perea -5- Poor.
Van Der Water -6- Was taken off because?
Alvarado -5- Poor bloke. Finally gets a game and this happens.
Michel -5- Poor bloke, didn't get a kick.
At this point, who cares?
Just in case you're like me and full of self loathing, go ahead... Punish yourself.
*All statistics courtesy of MLSsoccer.com.
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