Monday, April 4, 2016

Sunday Night MLS: Orlando goes atop East after hammering Portland

Orlando City 3-0 Portland Timbers
Kaka made his return to Orlando's starting eleven, and he surely did not disappoint in front of a boisterous home crowd at the Citrus Bowl.

The opening to the match was a fairly back and forth affair that saw neither side with the ability to control anything. Any attacks were often less than a one and done opportunity. Despite this, the first goal came fairly quickly. It took a 13th minute free kick by Orlando to get it. After Diego Valeri needlessly fouled Kaka, the Brazilian’s take found the head of Seb Hines to open the scoring.

The Orlando joy was tempered shortly after the goal when their star youngster, Cyle Larin, Had to leave in the 24th minute thanks to a hamstring injury. He wasn’t the only injury concern for Orlando in the first half. Hines had to leave the match at one point, although he returned. The Rafael Ramos went down in obvious pain just before the half hour mark. He, too, would return after a minute or so.

The injuries didn’t seem to slow them down one bit. Just as the pace was tapering off, Brek Shea spearheaded an attack down the left flank. A give and go between him and Kaka allowed the American left back to hammer one into the top corner to double the Orlando lead in the 32nd minute. It was his first club goal in four years.

The Timbers overall looked sloppy and disconnected at both ends of the pitch. Their passing was quite off. Their backline wasn’t communicating well. A couple nice diving saves from Adam Kwarasey were the only reason Orlando didn’t lead by four at the half. A 42nd minute handball in the box against Brek Shea gave the Timbers some life, but Fanendo Adi’s shot was low, slow, and right into Joe Bendik for a pretty easy penalty save.

Orlando’s pace got them back on the scoreboard early in the second half. The Timbers’ inability to get the ball out of their own half allowed a counter attack that resulted in Kaka being wide open for an easy third goal in the 48th minute. Orlando was simply running the Timbers off the pitch.

After the third goal, Portland began to get a little more possession, mostly because Orlando was backing down and concentrating on defending. This set the Timbers up for their seemingly standard play from behind recipe of setting up chances and failing to actually take said chances. Even a 66th minute takeaway that led to a two on one break produced a empty shell of an opportunity. The follow up chance created a shot, but Joe Bendik got his strong paws to Diego Valeri’s effort. It was all over when Kevin Molino buried a penalty in the 75th minute. Jack McInerney's 89th minute consolation goal meant nothing in the grand scheme of this one.

Orlando climbs to the top of the East with their second straight win. They are also unbeaten on the young season. Portland has now been without a win since the opening game against Columbus, but early season struggles are nothing they aren't used to. They just hope they can overcome them like they did last year and not allow the slow start to seal their fate like it did in 2014.

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