Orlando City suffered a tough 4-1 loss against Los Angeles FC last Saturday in LA. But that doesn’t mean the Lions did not put up a fight.
After being two goals down, the team started a comeback in the 59th minute of the second half, when Sacha Kljestan found the back of the net reducing LAFC lead to 2-1. 12 minutes later, the inspired American midfielder made a beautiful pass to Justin Meram on the right side. Meram quickly assisted Don Dwyer, who pushed the ball towards the net for the tie.
The fans’ happiness didn’t last long, though. The Video Assistant Referee was called and the play was overturned. Instead of 2-2, Orlando City saw a 3-1 disadvantage ten minutes later.
The play proved to be a big moment in the match as mentioned by new Head Coach James O’Connor and other players on the squad. Yoshimar Yotún, for example, said it was a crucial outcome for the team.
“Obviously we were looking for that goal; we were playing on the attack and that happened, and it was overturned,” Yotún said. “At the end it wound up being 3-1 and we lost our concentration. But really I feel like we’re just in a difficult moment and us as players are the ones that can change that on the field.”
Sacha Kljestan also said the play was a blow, but the team should have dealt with the situation better. “It brings you down a little bit, but you have to have a better mentality to react better than that because after that we gave up two bad goals.”
Video review has had a big impact on the game of soccer recently. In the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, for example, it changed the course of at least 10 matches, including in one of Yoshimar Yotún’s appearances in the group stage of the tournament. In MLS, it was introduced last season and also jolted the league.
It was not the first time this season the Lions suffered a close call from VAR this season. In the 2-1 loss against Chicago back in May for example, The Lions were denied a potential tying penalty kick after the video review upheld the call on the field in the 61st minute.
Coach O’Connor said the team was shaken after the VAR play, but he didn’t see it as the main reason for the defeat. Instead, he said the team’s reaction should’ve been stronger. He also highlighted the number of missed opportunities during the second half and said they happened due to a “lack of confidence”.
“I think when you look at it, it became pretty evident that there’s one team that is full of confidence and there’s another team that is really lacking confidence.”
The Lions will play again this weekend, when they host Toronto FC at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday at Orlando City Stadium.