After rattling off six consecutive wins, Jason Kreis' team has lost four straight and sit just one point ahead of the Philadelphia Union for the final playoff spot. Of course, securing that playoff berth is the top priority for a club that has yet to reach the postseason in its first three MLS seasons.
So what has been the difference over these two stretches? Let's lay them out.
First and foremost, the difficulty of the schedule has increased. Here were their six wins:
1: At home against a Red Bulls team that sent a reserve squad to Orlando, as they were in the middle of their CCL run.
2: Hosting Portland, who were ending a season-opening five-game road trip, with one of the longest travel distances in MLS.
3: At Philadelphia, who were in the midst of a finishing crisis.
4: At home against San Jose, who are currently averaging .69 points per game.
5: On the road against Colorado, who currently have the worst record in MLS.
6: Hosting an RSL team at home that has a 1-5-1 away record.
And here are Orlando City's four losses:
1: A 2-1 loss at home against the Supporters' Shield leaders.
2: A road loss against the 2017 treble winners.
3: A home loss against Chicago, who are probably better than their record shows.
4: At NYCFC, who are still perfect at home this season.
Dom Dwyer scored six goals during the Lions' six-game winning streak. While he played all 90 minutes against Atlanta, Dwyer has been sidelined with an injury over the past three matches. This has forced Kreis to play Stefano Pinho and Josue Colman up top, neither of whom possesses the finishing ability or workrate of Dwyer.
In the back, Kreis has been forced to shuffle his set-up of late. During the winning streak, he mostly played a center back duo of Lamine Sane and Amro Tarek. (Jonathan Spector would've been there if not for his long-term injury). Yet both Sane and Tarek have missed the last two games. Tony Rocha, who had started just two MLS matches in 2016 and 2017, has been forced into center back duty over the past two matches even though he is only nominally a central midfielder. Against NYCFC, he was paired with RJ Allen, who is a right back.
Has their luck turned?
Short answer? Probably. Check out the table below.
|Streak||Goals/Game||xG/Game||Goals Against/Game||xGA/Game||Touches in Opp Box/Game|
Stats provided by Opta
The stats say that Orlando overperformed their expected goals figures during their winning streak and are underperforming during their current losing streak.
Orlando City have 21 matches left in their season to accomplish their goal of reaching the playoffs. That's plenty of opportunity for a club that, on paper, has enough talent to succeed. It starts with Saturday's trip to Vancouver (7 pm ET | TSN — Full TV & streaming info), where they have a decent opportunity to break their slump against a 'Caps side that has not exactly dominated at home. But, at the same time, I wouldn't expect the Lions to reel off another six-match winning streak anytime soon. The schedule gods simply won't align the same way from here on out.