Orlando City entered July hot, having won four of their five contests played across all competitions in June and were coming off a strong victory on the road over the Columbus Crew.
Spirits were high heading into the first of a home-and-home showdown with the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia Union, and for the first 25 minutes or so, Orlando was looking like a team that could compete near the top of the conference themselves — just before it all unraveled, with two red cards and three goals unanswered.
It’s unfortunate that everything following Kacper Przybylko’s 32nd-minute goal will overshadow their lightning start because up until that point Orlando City had been the better side, playing their budding brand of attractive passing soccer, with a strong edge in energy to match. Casuals — and probably even national media that pays the minimum attention to Orlando City — will look at the scoreline and assume a good Philly team walked into Exploria Stadium and had no trouble bagging three points against a Lions side that’s not even in the playoff picture.
Without pointing out the obvious that Robin Jansson’s red card in the 43rd minute changed the game entirely and rocketed up the Union’s chances of points, the game itself before told a different story, one that should be taken more seriously by Orlando City fans.
James Ball ™️ was back for a bit on Wednesday night, and there was no better example for me to show you that this 20-pass sequence in the 14th minute:
The Lions switch sides of the field four times trying to stretch the Union’s defense and play through the holes it opened up, the only problem is that Philly plays a lot of the same style with the ball so Orlando wasn’t able to break through before Ruan’s shot, but that doesn’t make this any less of a great string of a possession.
All in all, though the Lions didn’t create a whole lot of chances throughout the first 32 minutes, they played well in possession and build up. Finding that final piece is still a bit of a problem to solve, but that could always come through in the form of a summer or winter signing.
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