I told you I'd come at Sunday's loss from multiple angles, and now it's time for that glass to be half empty.
Orlando City simply could not break down the New York Red Bulls defensive structure. Sometimes the Lions broke through one or two lines, but never the defense as a whole. Orlando finished with just three shots and 0.12 expected goals for the entire game.
While watching the game, I can remember maybe one or two half-chances where it felt like maybe Orlando could've almost challenged the Red Bull net minder.
This completely anemic performance could be an outlier, a flat showing on short rest against an aggressive opponent, but maybe it's something more. Maybe it's a warning sign that Orlando can't beat strong pressing teams, and if that's the case, start setting off sirens in the City Beautiful.
Orlando City wants to make a run this season. The Oscar Pareja era has been an undeniable success so far, and it's time to take that success to the next level, either by winning a trophy or at least making. a deep run in the MLS Cup playoffs.
To do that, the Lions need to find a way to beat aggressive pressing teams. The best team in the league right now are the Philadelphia Union, and the New York Red Bulls aren't far behind. Both teams come from the same general footballing philosophy of the Red Bull sporting organization and feature rock solid defensive cores and brutally unpleasant top down pressing units.
Aside from the two Red Bull style pressers, other elite sides like LAFC, the Seattle Sounders and NYCFC can effectively deploy high pressure to disrupt offensive rhythm and take their opponents out of a game.
Against the Red Bulls, Orlando lacked the composure to play through lines and the intensity to win second balls when playing direct football. The only times Orlando's possession play has been really effective is against passive and almost slow defensive teams like the Columbus Crew and Chicago Fire.
When playing more direct, aggressive opponents, will Orlando have the composure to make plays and create chances? It's only April and this is a young, growing team, so there's time to answer that question, but if it isn't eventually a yes, Orlando will need extreme luck to have a chance at eventually lifting the club's first trophy of the MLS era.