Croatia Comes Close but No Cigar and Orlando City Is Off the Schnide!

It has been a long time since we have been able to talk about an Orlando City victory, and we revel in every second of it this week. Lord Commander of the UCF Knights’ Watch Charles joins Doc to recap the experience of being in the stadium for the 2-1 victory over the defending champs, as well as to look ahead to the US Open Cup match against Philly on Wednesday and the next MLS match in Columbus on Saturday.

We also get our “Soccer Sherpa” Simon’s opinion on the City match (see his “Ten Thinks” article below), but only after a through World Cup Final review. The match was a fitting end to an incredibly entertaining tournament.

If you are looking to watch the Columbus game with fellow Orlando City fans, come join Orlando Derby at Ace Cafe in Downtown Orlando (where The Edge and 8 Seconds used to be on Livingston) for another viewing party!

Our listeners will get free on-site parking. That’s right…free parking downtown…just make sure you enjoy the food & drink specials they have for our audience. You will also have a chance to win a $50 Ace Cafe gift card every hour. Plus, Doc will have a free pair of tickets to the next Orlando City home match! Come join us!  We promise it will be a blast.

Listen to the full show here:

Simon’s “Ten Thinks” from The Home Revival Against Toronto

1) If anyone deserved to be celebrating an Orlando City win on Saturday night, it was the fans. What an incredible, whole-hearted and utterly non-stop bunch they are. Yes, it was good (vital) for the players & coaches, but the fans have earned it most. They never cease to amaze me.

2) The players definitely earned it, too. It was the most coherent performance we have seen since the June 6 US Open Cup win over Miami Utd, and easily the best league display since May 6 against RSL.

3) There was a good deal more purpose, poise and energy from every player on the field and, for 60 minutes, they hardly gave the reigning league champions a kick. The James O’Connor Effect is definitely in full swing.

4) Having Yoshi Yotun back and in harness with a different MF strategy was key to the performance. Tony Rocha brought a more calm. assured presence, and Sacha Kljestan saw more of the ball than he has in weeks, which is vital to the team’s offensive capacity.

5) A win’s a win, obviously, and the end of the nine-game skid was crucial for morale. But let’s not get carried away. TOR, in their current injury-riddled state, were woeful. They looked clueless for the first hour and hardly mustered a decent attack until late on.

6) The fact OCSC didn’t put them away convincingly – they really should have been 3-0 up by the 60min mark – is a worry as the Reds were there for the taking, and they came back into the game strongly in the last half-hour. Fortunately, their goal was so late that it didn’t allow any further defensive wobbles.

7) The team still needs Scott Sutter and Jonathan Spector back again to solidify the back-line and improve the distribution from the back, but Chris Schuler gave a more than adequate display, which was a good source of encouragement.

8) Possibly the biggest surprise was Will Johnson. As an emergency right-back during the losing skid he has looked a distinct liability, but on Saturday, back in that holding MF role, he brought all the intensity and energy that have been his hallmarks in the past. He looked good paired with Yoshi, and was still making solid tackles late in the game.

9) The big challenge now is to take another step forward, solidify what we saw on Sat and show that the team is learning under JOC. This is not going to be a straight-line process & there will be setbacks. The early signs are promising, but everyone – including the coaching staff & front office – will need to patient & realistic about what can be achieved this season.

10 a.) That’s because the schedule over the next few weeks is beyond brutal, and it will be an absolute miracle if they make any serious league progress. They face a run of 4 games in 12 days (3 on the road) starting with Wed’s USOC trip to Philly, then 2 Aug games against genuine contenders and a trip to revitalized DC United.

10 b.) That will complete a stretch of 12 road trips in 18 games in the space of 12 weeks, including LA twice, Vancouver and Montreal. No team is equipped to come out of that in great shape, hence any progress at all by the end of Aug will be against the odds, hence patience & realism are necessary.

10 c.) Whoever came up with that schedule has no sense of how athletes should be treated. It borders on cruel and unreasonable and must be re-visited in future so it never happens again. And 4 games in 12 days in the height of summer? Ridiculous.

Cheers,
Simon

Orlando City Continues Their Downward Spiral As the World Cup Ramps Up for The Finals

The James O’Connor got off to an inauspicious start Saturday. Orlando City once again failed to overcome sloppy defense, lack of aggressiveness and unfortunate injuries, but at least they scored! So we got that going for us. Which is nice.

On the bright side, the World Cup is helping quell the pain of the Lions’ losing streak. We discuss which match-up we want, which the rest of the world want and which is most likely to happen.

Listen to the full show here:

Simon’s “Ten Thinks” from the L.A. Implosion

Here we go with this week’s 10 Thinks, which could easily be 50 or 60 after Sat’s game at LAFC. Truly, that was a game for the ages, in reaction terms, 90 mins full of talking points….

1) Shambolic. Incomprehensible. Defying every convention. And that was just my Internet connection here in Okemos, MI. The @OrlandoCitySC game? Yes, it was all of that, and more besides.

2) Let’s just start by trying to unravel the result. A 4-1 defeat never looks good, but this one hides a multitude of sins, many of them on the Lions’ part, but many also on the officials.

3) Before I go off the deep end on this one, let’s just be clear – LA were the better team, they possess a really potent attack, are very possibly the 2nd best team in the league (after ATL), and they deserved to win.

4) OCSC defended VERY poorly at times. Yet again, we saw the back 4 all at sea, and some of the defending would have shamed the Keystone Cops (witness goals 2 and 4 for LA). But there were mitigating circumstances.

5) Just to start with, this was James O’Connor’s first game in charge, and he has had just a few days to get his message across. Then skipper Spector got injured and threw things even more off kilter. LA scored twice in the subsequent confusion of a defensive reorganization.

6) But then the team settled down and started to play. They caused LA some real problems, the attack sparked into life, and we finally had a game.

7) And then VAR reared its (very) ugly head, and things went to hell in a hand basket. A perfectly good OCSC goal was ruled out in mystifying circumstances, and everything after that is then conjecture and confusion. The 2 late goals merely added to a horrible situation.

8 a) Let me be absolutely clear. The officials and their use of VAR went against EVERY protocol that has been laid out for replay use. There was no “clear & obvious” error on Orlando’s 2nd goal, and the referee did NOT go to the video monitor to check. What’s going on, MLS?

8 b) If the VAR official is going to start making arbitrary decisions based on who knows what, the game is gone. Finished. Over. The first time that happens to the home team in their stadium the fans will riot, and rightly so. It was an abomination of the use of technology

8 c) There HAS to be an inquiry into what happened. What we saw on Sat night, with the game completely influenced by a blown VAR call, cannot be allowed to happen again if this league wants to be taken seriously.

9) O’Connor has a major task on his hands to turn this around, but there WERE some encouraging signs. Dom was back making runs & looking dangerous again (could, and probably should, have had a couple), Kljestan was poised, and Yotun gave the team better balance.

10) The bad signs were that Mueller & Colman still looked like rookies, the defensive alignment collapsed without Spector, and both full-backs looked suspect. A LOT of work is needed.

Now, let’s get behind the team, as one, for Saturday’s home game against Toronto.

Cheers,
Simon

Is James O’Connor the Answer? Also, How Insane Is This World Cup?

Orlando City has entered the James O’Connor Era. Will he be able to right the ship in time to save the season? Will he get more than this season to prove himself since he is “coming home”?

We debate the answers to these questions as well as commiserate about the current state of the Lions after another crushing loss over the weekend. Fan morale was already at its lowest point in franchise history, and the abysmal effort we saw on the pitch Saturday gives us little reason for optimism.

We also discuss whether the referee’s had thoughts of Putin’s minions in their heads during Russia’s Round of 16 match and dive in to this insane World Cup with our Soccer Sherpa, Simon. Does the USMNT deserve further criticism for missing this year’s Cup given that things have played out in a way that would have benefited a team like ours?

You can listen to the full show here:

Simon’s “Ten Thinks” from the Annihilation in Atlanta

Here we go with this week’s “Ten Thinks” with a LOT to try to digest from a, frankly, woefully inept all-round performance at Atlanta…

1) If incoming head coach James O’Connor wasn’t aware of the size of his task before Saturday, that 4-0 debacle at Atlanta will leave him in no doubt. This is a major rebuild, and he really has his work cut out for him.

2) Currently, Orlando City are a team without belief, focus and, in some cases, without the ability to perform even basic tasks (witness Will Johnson missing the open goal). Their fall has been precipitous.

3) Hopefully that’s the last we see of the 3-man backline, which failed totally and completely at ATL. It took only one pass, after just three minutes, to by-pass all 3 for the first goal, which should never, ever happen.

4) There’s no blame to Bobby Murphy here. He HAD to try something after the team had conceded 19 goals in six defeats, but clearly the personnel for the 3-4-3 (or 3-4-2-1 as it played out) isn’t working.

5) When one of your most reliable players, Joe Bendik, starts looking fallible (four goals conceded on six shots on target on Sat, including one through his legs), you know you’ve just about hit rock bottom.

6) Have some sympathy for Joe, though. he’s faced a whopping 102 attempts on goal during the 8-game losing run. In the previous six wins, he faced 85, but OCSC was also scoring at the other end.

7) That’s an average of almost 14 shots/game. Most teams average around 10/11, so OCSC’s defense is clearly the problem at the moment. If they’d turned just 4 of 10 defeats into draws, they’d still be in a playoff spot.

8) How did we get to here? Great question. Answers on a postcard, please, to Alex Leitao, c/o OCSC front office. It certainly hasn’t been just one thing. All 3 facets of the team, DF, MF and attack have collapsed at key times.

9) The team has also never been able to field its ideal XI at ANY stage this year, but too many players have simply been inconsistent – Meram, Kljestan, Mueller, Colman, Higuita, Sane – while others like Johnson, Pinho, Toia, Rosell just don’t look up to the task.

10) So, what now? Over to you, James O’Connor. This is one hot mess right now, but O’Connor is smart enough and adaptable enough to sort it out. It will be the biggest challenge of his career to date, but he needs to figure out the players he can count on – and those who need to be shown the door.

Cheers,
Simon

We Try to Talk About The World Cup, The US Open Cup, The Pride and Pretty Much Anything Other Than Orlando City’s Mediocrity…We Do Not Succeed Much

We were going to put more effort into writing a proper, concise headline, but instead took our cue from the Lions and just used our first draft. Why try harder than we need to, right?

That is pretty much the theme of this week’s episode. Lord Commader of the UCF Knights’ Watch, Charles, never even made it into the studio thanks to the gas-leak induced Carpocolypse 2018 on I-4. It was a fitting fiasco for the mood of the show.

We touch on the US Open Cup shootout win, the surging Orlando Pride and their attendance and even talk a little World Cup. Unfortunately, it is impossible to escape the fact that this is the lowest fan morale has been in franchise history, so it dominates the conversation.

On a positive note, we had a blast at our tailgate party at Ace Cafe in Downtown Orlando (where The Edge and 8 Seconds used to be on Livingston) before the match Saturday. We will host another viewing party for the Atlanta United match on the 30th!

Our listeners will get free on-site parking. That’s right…free parking downtown…just make sure you enjoy the food & drink specials they have for our audience. You will also have a chance to win a $50 Ace Cafe gift card every hour. Plus, Doc will have a free pair of tickets to the next Orlando City home match! Come join us! Doc, Charles and our “Soccer Sherpa” Simon will be there (if he is back from Top Secret Assignment). We promise it will be a blast.

Listen to the full show here:

Simon’s “Ten Thinks” from Another Montreal Massacre

1) Another great week for Orlando. This team is fully in sync, on the march and ready for the playoffs. The head coach has them all on the same page and playing coherent, consistent soccer.

2) The Pride have definite title pretensions and a real drive to succeed. It’s what the fans deserve, and they also deserve all our support. Just one defeat in 10 – that’s real progress. Let’s all get behind the next home game on Wednesday.

3) What – you wanted comment about Orlando CITY? Sheesh. Ask me to solve the question of life, the universe and everything, why don’t you.

4) Seriously, this team has devolved into a shapeless, aimless, and characterless mess. Seven defeats in a row, each one progressively worse in terms of their lack of creativity and urgency.

5) The early own goal was a complete freak – symptomatic of the team’s luck just now – but they still had 77 minutes to mount some kind of concerted, positive reaction. They managed ONE shot on goal. One. At home, against a team that won’t be anywhere near the playoffs. That’s beyond feeble.

6) Interim head coach Bobby Murphy was brutally honest about the lack or energy & urgency from the team, but honesty doesn’t disguise the fact this team seems to have no inherent belief or direction.

7) There is a clear collective failure of the group right now, but I think we’ve seen enough of several individuals. Each of Johnson, Toia, Meram and Sane are offering the team nothing & others must be given a chance.

8) Dwyer is a totally forlorn figure at the moment. All his energy & vigor is going completely to waste as there is absolutely zero service to him. There was one decent cross against the Impact. One.

9) The new head coach is going to have to be part tactician and part magician. There is little to work with salary cap-wise, so his ability to motivate and formulate a coherent strategy will be paramount.

10) World Cup break? What World Cup break? We shouldn’t even be talking about league games at the moment. The league has GOT to do better with its scheduling, as it’s a nonsense to be playing league games during the biggest tournament on earth. Just ridiculous.

Cheers,
Simon

Orlando Derby Welcomes on Orlando City Soccer President for Life Phil Rawlins!

We were not lacking for things to talk about on this week’s episode. Of course, we discuss the franchise-altering loss to Montreal last week and Jason Kreis being unceremoniously drummed out of the corps. Then we take a virtual trip to Russia to revel in Messi’s choke against our adopted team of Iceland and rank our favorite surprises of the tournament so far.

However, our big segment is reserved for special guest Phil Rawlins, Founder and President for Life of Orlando City Soccer. We chat about his hand in hiring Kreis, his thoughts on where the team is now (and where it is headed) and much more.

We also have a special announcement for Orlando Derby tailgate and watch parties! Ace Cafe in Downtown Orlando (where The Edge and 8 Seconds used to be on Livingston) will host our pregame party this Saturday starting at 4:00pm and our Atlanta United watch party on the 30th!

Our listeners will get free on-site parking. That’s right…free parking downtown…just make sure you enjoy the food & drink specials they have for our audience. You will also have a chance to win a $50 Ace Cafe gift card every half-hour. Plus, Doc will have a free pair of tickets to the game on Saturday! Come join us! Doc, Charles and our “Soccer Sherpa” Simon will be there (if he is back from Top Secret Assignment). We promise it will be a blast.

Listen to the full episode here:

 

If you want to hurt our feelings and only listen to the Phil segment, you can do that here:

Simon’s “Ten Thinks” from the Montreal Meltdown (of nuclear proportions)

I find I have some time on my hands this afternoon here in St Tropez (yes, really!), so here are a quick few thoughts on the OCSC state of affairs:

1) It’s not a surprise. The front office couldn’t afford to be going into July with only 19pts in the bank for effectively the first half of the season, as I said in last week’s ’10 Thinks.’

2) Jason Kreis amassed a record of 21 wins in 64 games for the Lions, or a 32.8 winning percentage. Adrian Heath won 16 of 50 in MLS (also 32 per cent). We all know what happened to Inchy.

3) As was the case with Heath’s shock sacking, the team was on a distinct downward spiral, and the front office feared the season’s playoff hopes were going with it.

4) This OCSC team was built to win, and win now. The front office brought in 13 new players this year, all with Jason’s say-so. This was his team.

5) Was it too early to pull the plug on the head coach? It’s always hard to say in these situations. But just as the club couldn’t stomach the feeble 4-0 loss at Dallas which put paid to Inchy in 2016, so a 3-0 defeat at hopeless Montreal was the final straw last week.

6) The bottom line for the front office was that performances had gotten increasingly poor through the six-game losing streak. Successive three-goal defeats to teams that don’t look like MLS Cup contenders are the stuff of nightmares all round.

7) This season has been blighted by injuries and World Cup call-ups, but there is still plenty of talent in this squad and it should be doing better, especially against the likes of Chicago, Vancouver & Montreal. Having all the possession in the world is no good unless you do something with it.

8) Players like Kljestan, Meram, Rosell and Colman should all be making better contributions than they have to date. Johnson and Toia have been liabilities. That’s all on the head coach.

9) Kreis is entitled to bemoan the injury fortunes of Dom Dwyer, who was sidelined for most of the losing run, but not for the lack of a proper replacement. No-one else has been able to score consistently.

10) Where does the team go now? That is totally up in the air. Unless the front office already has someone in mind to take over, it’s going to take a LOT of character to salvage this season. Bobby Murphy is a good guy for this situation, but it’s up to the senior players to take the lead now.

Cheers,
Simon