The Myrtle Effect; OCSC, Eight Games In

Orlando City SC are one of six teams in Major League Soccer with one or no wins in their last six. Orlando’s attack is as dry as the turkey your Aunt Myrtle made last Thanksgiving. Like Thanksgiving, Orlando has this big name, the Turkey, or Kaka, with this really exciting side component, the jam, or Kevin Molino. The Turkey wouldve been so delicious had you not overcooked it Myrtle. Instead, I imagine it was like eating leather. Damn you, Myrtle.

Eric Avila, Lewis Neal, Carlos Rivas, Cyle Larin, Danny Mwanga and Bryan Rochez are essentially Myrtle. There’s just one goal and not a single assist notched from all of them. Theyve all contributed within a total of 1,185 minutes as well and one goal has come from it. That one goal was scored by Cyle Larin’s torso, a millimeter from goal. So, basically, not a single important play has been made off of any of those twelve feet within the span of 1,185 minutes. That’s more than a game per foot. That’s so Myrtle.

Your Other Aunt

However, not everything is in disarray within the Orlando camp. Say the 3-0 loss to Columbus didnt happen, let’s pretend Frankie Hejduk threw a huge rager at Mapfre Stadium and forgot to clean up before his figurative parents came home. Orlando City allowed seven goals within those other seven games. Also, in the four games (besides Columbus) where a back four of Rafael Ramos, Aurelien Colin, Seb Hines, and Brek Shea has started, the defense has let in just three goals. The reason I ignore the Columbus game may be obvious but given the red card to Ramos in the 33rd minute, I find it unfair to judge them too much on that outing. I maintain that that starting back four is one of the best, league wide. Sean St. Ledger is also great cover for both Colin and Hines. I also believe Luke Boden to be quite reliable in the left back position as well. So, defense is not the problem. Using possession in effective ways, is.

The issue with Orlando City is a simple one to spot. Kaka and Molino can not carry this team by themselves. Theyve been impressive and combine just about as well as any two players in the league but when they give the ball to any one else in the attack? It’s stagnant. It’s hesitant. It’s, Myrtle. The big question looming now is; can Orlando City figure out their attacking issues within their current squad or will they have to look outside of the team?

Cooking Turkey the Right Way

There are two players who I believe just possibly could turn things around for the Orlando City attack. Those two players are Martin Paterson and Carlos Rivas. Paterson has yet to make his first MLS appearance for the Lions since being sidelined at the beginning of the year with a hamstring injury. It’s tough to gauge just how well Paterson could perform in MLS. It’s tough to say he even will perform well at all. However, im holding out hope that he’ll produce more than the current corps. Given his resume and previous endeavors, it’s fair to think he may. He’s also a player that has never had a player like Kaka playing right behind him, though he has played with high quality players in the past like Charlie Austin, in his time with Burnley. In the 2012-2013 season with Burnley, one which Charlie Austin scored 27 in all competitions, Paterson scored eight. In that time, he was surrounded with arguably the most talent in his career and he came away with eight goals. Though injury plagued since, it’s a promising thought to think what he might be able to do with Kaka behind him.

As for Carlos Rivas, I actually believe he has more potential in MLS than Paterson does. However, that potential is not as a striker. Adrian Heath needs to utilize him out wide on the left, where he’s accustomed to playing and where he played mostly for Deportivo Cali in Colombia. He has the speed and skill to get around the outside of fullbacks and pose dangerous situations for opposing defenses. If Heath can start Paterson (once healthy) up top with Rivas on the left, it’s quite easy to fathom that this team will look much different, much more fluid, and much more dangerous, once chemistry is gained. Whatever Heath does, whether he goes with this option or options from outside the team, it may take a few games for it to work out but it’s clear that the current crop of attackers arent cutting it.

If Heath pursues neither one of these options, 2015 isnt looking bright for Orlando. There’s also the strong possibility that something is done and it just doesnt work out. Either way, Orlando City could be dead in the water, like Aunt Myrtle, or we could see a Resurrection of Common proportion, that could see Orlando City SC make the 2015 MLS playoffs.

(image property of Austin Farrow)