Orlando City vs New England Revolution: five takeaways
Orlando City almost had three big points that would have put the Lions in second in the East, but couldn’t maintain a 2-0 lead in the final 10 minutes. The 2-2 draw with the New England Revolution is another disappointment as the 2021 MLS regular season draws to a close.
Here are my five takeaways from the game.
Orlando City must take advantage of first-half chances
The Lions have dominated the first half in the last two games against Montreal and New England, but have only scored one goal in each game. They could have sidelined the game in both matches before the break, but entered the locker room with only a 1-0 lead.
If the Lions had scored multiple goals in their dominant first-half performances, they would likely have come away with six points instead of two. Instead, the team left both games with disappointing draws.
Much better start in the second half
While the draw against New England was disappointing, there were a few bright spots to remember. After dominating CF Montreal in the first half on Wednesday night, the Lions came out flat at half time, as they did in the previous game against Cincinnati. Montreal dominated the first 15 minutes of the second period and the Lions were fortunate not to lose a goal.
The team had a similar first half against New England, but fared well after the break. The Revolution had a few chances, but didn’t control the game like Montreal did. While part of it may have been the weakened New England squad – although the Revs replaced designated players Carles Gil and Adam Buksa at halftime – Orlando City looked a lot more lively than his two previous games at the start of the second period.
Daryl Dike continues to prove himself as a penalty shooter
Orlando City have struggled to find a reliable penalty taker in recent years. Nani was the player of choice until recently, but missed several big penalties. However, recently Daryl Dike has been the kicking guy.
After a solid conversion against Nashville, Dike returned to the limelight against New England. He looked hesitant as the ball initially passed from Chris Mueller to Mauricio Pereyra, but he eventually ended up with the great striker. It was a perfect penalty around the corner, proving once again that Dike should take all of Orlando City’s penalties.
New England submarines made a difference
The New England Revolution entered this game with a rotating team after winning the Supporters Shield on Saturday night. Gustavo Bou, Tajon Buchanan, DeJuan Jones, Adam Buksa and Carles Gil all started off the bench. However, the five players came on in the second half and made the difference.
The game changed in the 64th minute when Buchanan, Jones and Bou all entered. After it took a while to get into the game, New England began to take control. Buksa finished with a brace and was close to a hat trick in the final 10 minutes. Assists also came from subs, Bou, Jones and Gil registering one each.
What we can take away from this is that Orlando City should have taken advantage of the weakened starting lineup because the Revs’ regular lineup is arguably the best in the league. If the Lions end up finishing fourth or fifth, that could be important as they would have to travel to New England if they made it to the conference semifinals.
Nani ends goal drought
For Orlando City to be at their best, team captain and designate Nani has to be a threat. It was a Sunday night, scoring the Lions’ first goal on a cross from Joao Moutinho. The header was Nani’s first goal after 10 games without any dating back to August 7 against FC Cincinnati – more than two months ago. He also took the penalty which allowed Dike to score the second goal. He provided two assists and sent dangerous crosses into the box, often making his way down the left side against AJ DeLaGarza.
Over the past two seasons, Nani’s production has plummeted in the home stretch of the season. It is understandable to a certain extent. In 2019, he finished his second consecutive season without a break. Last year there was significant aircraft congestion after the pandemic stopped as MLS crammed into a condensed season from summer.
Yet the criticism of its fading is rooted in the facts. If Nani can end the 2021 season strong after tonight’s performance and continue to help Lions score goals, Orlando City are more likely to win their second straight playoff appearance.
That’s what I learned from Orlando City’s 2-2 draw with the New England Revolution. Let us know what stood out for you in the comments below.