Against the Portland Timbers, Orlando City was without it's best playmaker in winger Facundo Torres, and without him, the situation out wide looks grim.
Outside of the Uruguayan wide man, Orlando features Benji Michel, and when healthy, Silvester van der Water as wingers, with Gaston Gonzalez coming through later this year. So far, van der Water has dealt with health and safety protocol issues and when he did play against Montreal, he showed very little.
This is leaving a serious hole at the winger role for the Lions outside of Torres, and that is going to be a problem.
Against the Timbers, it was up to Tesho Akindele to provide the width opposite of Michel. To the Canadian's credit, he worked very hard and was surprisingly adept on the ball, but he lacks the creativity to do real damage on the flank. Two weeks before against Cincinnati, it was Alexandre Pato out wide, and while the Brazilian can create some with his technical ability and vision, he lacks the pace to be a constant threat on the wing.
That lack of pace and creativity out wide is hurting Orlando on the field. All of the width has to come from Ruan on the right, and while the Brazilian has loads of pace, he doesn't have the skill to consistently create chances. It also puts far too much pressure on Mauricio Pereyra to do everything in the final third for Orlando with no secondary creative forces.
As of now, Torres is the only winger who can reliably create any danger with the ball at his feet. Michel can do some work, but he's best as a secondary goal scorer, not a creator.
This lack of productivity is fantastic news for one man: Gaston Gonzalez. The young Argentine had five goals and six assists in 23 games in his home country at just 19 last season, and while he hasn't scored yet in 2022, he's an extremely enticing prospect.
Assuming he does eventually come to Orlando in May as has been widely reported, he could be the answer Orlando is crying out for.