We Finally Bury the 2018 Orlando City Season. Now…Who Needs to Go?

The 2018 Orlando City Soccer season has finally come to a merciful end after the Lions dropped their final match to the New York Red Bulls, 1-0.

We bring on our “Soccer Sherpa” Simon Veness to briefly recap the match, and then go down the roster to determine who needs to go and who the club should keep.

You can listen to the full show here:

We Finally Have a Win to Talk About (So We Conveniently Forget Wednesday’s Match)

After a seemingly endless summer, our long regional nightmare is over! Orlando City closed out their home season with a 2-1 victory over the Columbus Crew yesterday. It was an especially sweet piece of revenge given that it happened with two penalty kick goals considering how PRO screwed over the Lions in Columbus with a late phantom call (one PRO made a rare apology for).

In spite of one win doing little to make an incredibly forgettable season palatable, Doc and Lord Commader of the UCF Kinghts’ Watch, Charles, revel in the joy that is not discussing another gut-wrenching loss.

Listen to the full show here:

Simon’s “Ten Thinks” from a Victory! Have We Had One of Those?

And here are this week’s 10 Thinks after two contrasting OCSC home games:

1) The fans finally got (a little of) what they deserved on Sunday with a whole-hearted effort – and a deserved win – against a CLB team that was desperate for the points but ended up looking just desperate. Yes, the Lions did a number on their nemesis and there could be no arguing with the outcome.

2) After having a win cruelly snatched from them at Columbus in July by a late-late phantom penalty (that PRO Referees were forced to apologize for), it was deliciously ironic that CLB were undone by a (fully justified) late-late penalty of Orlando’s this time. Karma does, eventually, work out.

3) It helped to conclude the Orlando City Stadium season with a bit of a flourish after such a disappointing home campaign (just 5 previous wins in 16 games), and especially after a fairly feeble effort in the 2-1 defeat to SEA the previous Wednesday.

4) The key on Sunday was that James O’Connor had most of his players available again, which enabled him to play a much more attacking 3-5-1 lineup that featured Yoshi Yotun prominently and both nominal full-backs getting forward at regular intervals.

5) That line-up was notable for playing a much more aggressive high press, consistently, than we’ve seen from a JOC team so far. It pressed CLB into real problems in breaking out of their own half and they were limited largely to set-pieces and the occasional giveaway in the OCSC third.

6) Yotun makes a big different to the Lions’ MF, not just with his own play but because he makes everyone around him better, notably Uri Rosell and Sacha Kljestan. He’s still not immune to the occasional mistake (including one horrible giveaway that the DF covered up for excellently) but he’s part of the brighter long-term prospects for the club.

7) Shane O’Neill was another Trojan all game for Orlando, not just with some sterling defensive work but also for some great surging runs forward late in the match that helped to open up some holes in the CLB defense. O’Neill is another key piece for 2019.

8) Ditto Scott Sutter, who helped to nail down City’s right flank defensively but, more importantly, was a regular contributor on the right wing with his crosses as well as being second on the team with 3 of the 16 attempts on goal. We need a lot more of this in future.

9) Let’s not get TOO carried away with one win, though. The team’s record this year is still a miserable 8-21-4, and 21 defeats is more than any other team in the league, and 10 more than a competitive team can afford in MLS. There remains a LOT of work to do.

10) Only Colorado & Columbus have scored fewer goals this season, and THAT’S where JOC must focus in the off-season. The team’s attacking quotient is way too lightweight and Dom Dwyer needs a LOT more support in future if this team is to flourish. The real work starts now.

Cheers,
Simon

Simon’s “Ten Thinks” From Yet Another 2-0 Loss

Seeing as we didn’t manage a lot of OCSC chat on the show this week (for very obvious reasons!), it behooves me to step in with the weekly 10 Thinks and point out a few salient points from Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at New England.

1) Let’s get the obvious out of the way first – is it 2019 yet? That’s the only real hope for the fans right now as they contemplate a record number of goals conceded to go with the current streak of one win in 22 and 6pts out of a possible 66.

2) No goals in the past five games sums up just how sour this season has become, and it’s pretty clear at this stage that this roster is very badly assembled and James O’Connor has a massive job on his hands to rebuild it by next March.

3) In defense of the team, they were once again without a whole raft of players due to injuries and international call-ups, the latter of which is unforgivable for a major soccer league. MLS simply HAS to figure out how to avoid this in future as taking all the best players away during league play is an absolute cardinal sin in both soccer and sporting entertainment terms.

4) Ultimately, however, that’s a pretty thin defense, as, with 30 players, you should still be able to put a competitive team on the field. But, without (the suspended) Dom Dwyer, Orlando’s offense has about as much firepower as the Ugandan navy. And that’s not a lot.

5) With Spector injured and El-Munir on international duty, O’Connor fielded the umpteenth defensive combination of the year, and that’s never a happy situation. Playing a 5-man backline also smacked a little of desperation and it simply didn’t work.

6) Against a team ranked only 20th in possession terms in the league, Orlando mustered barely 35% of the ball in the first half and 40% overall. New England just coasted to victory as they were in the box seats from the first minute, able to put 5 and 6 players into the attack most of the time.

7) On paper, OCSC’s attack – consisting of Laryea, Rocha, Mueller & Colman – looked terribly green, and that’s the way it played out, with just four attempts on target and only one serious save for Revs keeper Knighton.

8) Even though they won, the Revs are an unlikable team. They committed a whopping 23 fouls in the 3-3 draw in Orlando in August yet drew only one yellow card, and committed another 14 on Saturday, with no cards from another woefully inept ref. That’s 34 fouls and 1 card in 2 games. That can’t happen in a league that’s paying attention.

9) Now the pressure is back on OCSC to deliver at least a goal in front of their own fans this week, against Seattle on Wed & Columbus on Sat, the latter of which should be a real grudge match after the way the Crew stole a win from the Lions in controversial circumstances in Columbus in July & have the despised Justin Meram back in their lineup. Sparks. Fly.

10) Yotun and El-Munir will still be missing. See also 3). This is a recurring joke, but it’s not very funny.

11) Come out and see us at the Broken Cauldron before Saturday’s game to bid a not-so-fond farewell to the 2018 season. We’ll also have some books to sell 😉

Cheers,
Simon

Match Fixing, Usain Bolt and Sending Racist Fans to Auschwitz…and Orlando City (sigh)

After another 2-0 loss for Orlando City (extending their scoreless streak to six weeks), there is not much more to say about the Lions that has not been said countless times the second half of the season. So while we do talk a bit about the team and their future, we stacked the show with other news of note from the soccer world.

First, we let our “Soccer Sherpa” Simon revel in England’s big win over Spain in the UEFA Nations League. Then we talk about how big a circus sideshow Usain Bolt will be for Valletta FC before discussing whether the French police should be investigating a possible match-fix between PSG and Red Star.

Listen to the full show here:

Orlando City Delivered More of the Same This Week, So…Champions League Talk It Is!

We are back after a week hiatus with a short but sweet show. Orlando City gave us absolutely nothing worth saying that we have not said too many times before, so we bring in Billy Mac to talk about the Champions League. We cover who are the favorites, the dark horses and the lost causes, as well as who are the best teams to put your money on for a nice payout (if you are the type to wager on sports, that is).

Listen to the full show here:

Marta Officially “The Best” for a Second Time, Adam Grinwis Steals the Show and We Announce the 2019 Florida Cup Participants

We packed a lot into this week’s hour. First, we discuss the first good effort from Orlando City in what seems like an eternity. It only resulted in a point, but we will take what we can get at this point. Adam Grinwis was the story of the match against the Dynamo, giving the Lions only their second clean sheet of the season.

Ricardo Villar, CEO of the Florida Cup, joins us to reveal the teams participating in the 2019 tournament. As co-host Charles (Lord Commander of the UCF Knight’s Watch) can attest, the Florida Cup is one of the best things going in Orlando soccer.

Of course we also discuss Marta winning a record sixth FIFA Player of the Year award, and our “Soccer Sherpa” Simon weighs in on all this and more.

Finally, special thank to Ace Cafe in Downtown Orlando for hosting another great tailgate party! We appreciate their support this season and big thanks to all the listeners who came out to see us!

Listen to the full show here:

Simon’s “Ten Thinks” from the Dynamo Draw

1) A clean sheet? We’ll take it. A whole-hearted effort from the team? That’s good, too. But those are really the minimum requirements that the fans want to see. That should be a given.

2) A point at home is also the bare minimum, and the fact it came after such a poor performance the previous week at Chicago (that dire 0-4 result) shows how low the bar has been set right now. This is not good.

3) Houston had the second-worst road record of any team in MLS prior to the game, and they played like they already had half their minds on Wednesday’s US Open Cup Final against Philly, i.e. they just wanted to get through the game with minimum effort and no injuries.

4) After a promising first half, the Lions again fizzled out in the second half, managing just ONE effort on goal in the final 45 minutes. When Sacha Klestan was substituted, the team’s attacking quotient virtually disappeared.

5) For those still counting, the current run is 1-16-3 since May 13. That’s six points out of a possible 60. OCSC would now have to win all five of their last games to avoid the lowest points total in their MLS history (39 last year). They are just five goals away from conceding the most in a single season.

6) That’s the doom and gloom out of the way, albeit that’s still a lot to wade through. Saturday night was a step forward, at least defensively, and that’s reason to be grateful for small mercies.

7) Just to start with, we saw Adam Grinwis – who started the year as the nominal No.3 goalkeeper – make his debut between the sticks and perform credibly. He made two key saves and looked pretty solid. There were no gaffes, and that’s a bonus at this stage.

8) We had our 198th combination in the back four this season, with the quartet of Sutter, Spector, Sane and El-Munir, but they looked a lot more solid than most lineups we’ve seen this year. This must continue. And let’s not see any more of the Spector-as-left-back experiment!

8 b) As an aside, the fact Grinwis and Spector got the biggest cheer of the game in the 57th minute for Adam’s save from Quioto and then Specs bravely diving to block the follow-up shot was actually pretty symptomatic of how little the fans had to cheer.

9) Carlos Ascues as a D-Mid alongside Rosell was possibly the biggest success of the night. He looked comfortable and assured in that holding role, and also got forward effectively a few times, too. The team will need a LOT more of this in future.

10) Bottom line – head coach O’Connor seems to be prioritizing the defensive side of things at the moment. The attacking/creative quotient is still sadly lacking. Dwyer HAS to get more help up front and the attacking Mids need to be a lot more dynamic. You can’t 0-0 your way to anything in this league, except total mediocrity.

Cheers,
Simon

Like John Cena Punching Dwayne Johnson In the Butt, Orlando City Has Hit Rock Bottom

What can be said at this point? Even if Orlando City loses the rest of their matches 4-0 they cannot sink any lower, because there is no where beneath them to go. After discussing the latest debacle on the the pitch and letting callers vent their frustrations, we move on to positive news for Orlando soccer fans.

First, owner Flávio Augusto Da Silva has declared he believes coach James O’Connor is the man for the job in turning around the club’s fortunes, so Lions fans can rest assured he will be back to skipper the team in 2019.

Second, the MLS has announced that the 2019 All-Star game is coming to Orlando! I think we speak on behalf of all Orlando soccer fans when we say, “it’s about friggin’ time!”

The positivity does not end there, as Lord Commander of the UCF Knights’ Watch (and Orlando Derby co-host) Charles gives us a rundown of the early success of the UCF men’s and women’s clubs.

Finally, we are hosting another tailgate party at Ace Cafe in Downtown Orlando (where The Edge and 8 Seconds used to be on Livingston) before the Houston Dynamo match Saturday!

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 (their food is outstanding).

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 against Seattle! 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 the Chicago Fire Match Versus the Orlando Dumpster Fire

One “Think” would probably be enough this week, but here goes…

1) If anyone thought I was being especially harsh on the team last week, when I detailed all the various shortcomings, well, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet….

2) I did insist the team hadn’t hit rock bottom, though, despite the run of just one win in 18 dating back to May 13. Well, on Saturday at Chicago, OCSC didn’t so much hit rock bottom as dive right through it and keep on going.

3) In losing 4-0 to a team that had shown equal levels of incompetence in recent months, the Lions laid the biggest of eggs, the dampest of squibs, and the emptiest of efforts. They gave their fans the coldest of shoulders and shortest of shrifts.

4) There was no hiding from this one. From first minute to last, it was a 24-carat embarrassment, a comic-cuts performance that made the Keystone Cops look like a well-drilled outfit.

5) We’ve seen the team beaten, badly, in the past, but never so abjectly and never without the hint of a whimper. Every single player carries the can for this one. They were supremely inept.

6) There are still six games to go, but I’m struggling to think how coach O’Connor is going to light a fire underneath them for those matches, short of actually lighting a fire underneath them.

7) In theory, the team was back to full strength with the return of Yoshi Yotun and Mohamed El-Munir. Jeez, if that was strength, what would weakness look like?

8) I could go on taking cheap shots but it would be about as effective as our midfield right now, which is Not Very, if you’re not paying attention.

9) This team owes the fans a big apology for what they put on the field last night, and they had better start by giving Houston a rocket at home next Saturday.

10) There is no #10. They don’t deserve it.

Cheers,
Simon