It has been a tough week for the Orlando City Soccer Club, and tonight’s 0-0 match against the Houston Dynamo reflected it. The Lions had been torched by Dallas FC 4-0 in a horrible showing on Monday night. Key forward Adrian Winter requested to be released due to family issues earlier in the week which weakened a struggling roster. Then later in the week, Adrian Heath, the only coach that this franchise has known since it’s inception, was fired.
It was a heavy mood at Camping World Stadium for tonight’s match. Oppressive heat, and key pieces missing. Again, no coach Heath, no Winter, and Kaka is also out due to injury. The match was the first with interim head coach Bobby Murphy at the helm.
The match started and progressed with little energy from either side. Orlando struggled to get past Houston’s 4-1-4 defense, causing most of the play to be in the middle field. When the Lions were able to get the ball up to it’s front line, things seemed out of sink and the could not produce opportunities in most of the game.
It was a hot night, a night filled with frustration and heavy emotions, on the field and in the crowd. The 28,104 in attendance were practically begging for something to cheer for.
On the bright side Orlando’s defense seemed to be shored up. Much more protective of the goal than in the previous match vs Dallas. The Lions completed 516 passes – over 200 more than the Dynamo – and finished with an 84 percent pass completion rate. Orlando managed 0 shots on goal in the first half, but held the advantage in time of possession throughout the match.
“In light of the events of the last couple days, I think there was a bit of an edginess to the guys. They wanted to do well,” Murphy said. “I told [the players] this in the locker room: right now we’re above the red line and we got our first clean sheet since Game 3 in New York. Those are two really positive things that we can hang on to going into this busy stretch the next couple of weeks.”
The Lions are in the midst of a tough part of their schedule. The Game this past Monday in Dallas, then turn around and come home for tonight;s Houston game. Next they travel to New York and face the New York Red Bulls, the beginning of a three game road trip.