HARRISON, N.J. — There are tough stretches in a season, and then there is what Orlando City is currently going through.
From injuries to a painful head-coaching change to an unproductive run that has yielded little in the way of goals and results, Orlando City has had a difficult and trying spell as of late. Things only got worse for the Lions on Wednesday night, too, as they suffered a 2-0 road loss to a fellow Eastern Conference side in the New York Red Bulls.
Missing the injured Kaka and fielding a depleted lineup due to the loaded scheduled it currently has, Orlando City was outdone at Red Bull Arena by two goals off of set pieces. Left back Connor Lade scored his first career MLS goal and the winner in the match late in the first half, and the second tally came via a Felipe free kick just before the hour-mark.
The result left Orlando City further frustrated, knowing that its in a funk right now after winning just one of its last seven games while having deal with outside distractions.
“It’s tough enough when things aren’t going your way inside the locker room, and then you add all this other stuff,” Orlando City left midfielder Brek Shea told SBI. “We just try and block it out and try to do our job. I think every team in every sport goes through rough patches, so hopefully we come out stronger from it.”
Added forward Cyle Larin: “It’s tough. Not a lot of teams are going through what we’re going through.”
The good news for the Lions is that they are currently only one point out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference despite this poor run of form. Still, getting out from under this large gray cloud will not be easy.
Orlando City’s attack has gone cold as the playmaking Kaka has continued to struggle with his health. The club is scoreless in its last three matches, going 0-2-1 in that stretch, and has looked largely toothless when it has had possession of the ball. Fixing the offensive issues, with or without the Brazilian, is a priority.
The team also has to move past the dismissal of well-liked manager Adrian Heath, who was fired on July 6. The Lions are still dealing with the aftereffects of his departure despite putting on a “brave face”, a term interim head coach Bobby Murphy used on Wednesday to describe how they are dealing with all of these challenges.
It is certainly a trying time for Orlando City and its fans, but they know the cure lies with getting back on track. No matter how it is done. No matter how pretty it is or not.
“I think one win will get us back where we were at the beginning of the season when we were playing well,” said Larin. “One win will push us on.”
If there is a bright side to all of this, it is that the Orlando City players seem to be sticking together. They desperately want to get out of this rut, and know that staying united will only help their chances of doing so.
That said, patience might be needed as much as dedication in order to overcome this tremendous adversity.
“My heart breaks for them a little bit, the guys,” said Murphy. “I’m old. I know the sun will come up tomorrow, I know things will turn around. But I feel for them because they do give what they have. Sometimes it’s not good enough, and sometimes that’s the way the world works.
“But it’s no excuse to put your head down and mope. You’ve just got to stick out your chest and trod the road to our happy destiny.”