In possibly the most patriotic matchup of the season, the heartland giants and one of three main contenders usually vying for the title “Soccer City USA” traveled to the birthplace of the United States, to take on a team that has a soccerized the American flag for a crest, on a football-lined field, in the home stadium of the New England Patriots. And then Americans also proceeded to score goals.
The first goal of the game, scored by Sierra Leone native Kei Kamara, was set up by Juan Agudelo. Future-citizen Dom Dwyer then leveled the scoring by staying alert at the back post on a corner kick and beating his man to the ball at the goal line. Lee Nguyen then blasted a shot off the post, only to see the ball turned in by fellow American but not fellow teammate Kevin Ellis for an own goal, after Nguyen drifted into the box unmarked at the back post and Kei Kamara’s cross floated over everyone and fell to him. Finally, Agudelo got his goal after a failed bicycle kick by Kamara still wound up getting put into the box for Agudelo to blast in, beating his man to the ball. The lesson from this game? Don’t fall asleep in the box if a clean goal or clearance doesn’t come immediately, defenders.
The other lesson from this game is that it appears Juan Agudelo was really what the Revs were missing all the time to make Lee Nguyen and Kei Kamara work on the pitch together. Count me among those saddened to not see Agudelo’s name on the team sheet for some cupcake friendlies against Cuba and New Zealand.
Jozy continues his crazy goal form by absolutely turning Steve Birnbaum inside out, then out-witting Bill Hamid with an extra touch and cool finish.
Dax McCarty comes through with yet another headed goal via a Sacha Kljestan free kick. All 4 foot 8 of him.
McCarty also added this pretty assist, which was more than matched by Bradley Wright-Phillips’s finish.
And Kljestan got in on the goal fest as well to help New York grab all three points.
Brad Evans, Lamar Neagle, Chris Pontius, Walker Zimmerman, Justen Glad, and Fatai Alasha all also found the scoresheet as well. It wasn’t exactly a banner week for set-piece defense overall.
The Kreis is Right...right?
Orlando has officially failed to make the playoffs once again, and the midseason ouster of Adrian Heath and subsequent hiring of Jason Kreis did not provide the Lions with the shot in the arm they needed to get themselves over the red line. This probably stings even a bit more for Kreis, as one of the teams that will be playing in the playoffs ahead of him are NYCFC.
Now, while NYC’s roster does have some turnover from Kreis’s time, many of the key players this season also played under Kreis. Having in-formed and fully-integrated Andrea Pirlo and Frank Lampard has worked wonders for NYC, though, and the belief Vieira has placed in players more on the fringe under Kreis, such as Tommy McNamara and Khiry Shelton, has also paid dividends. Meanwhile, Kreis was given the keys to one of the brightest attacks in MLS on paper. Cyle Larin is already a nearly fully-formed striker at just 21, and he and Kevin Molino are easily two of the best attacking players in MLS. Veteran leadership and flair for the dramatic in Kaka, along with some veteran supporting cast in people like Brek Shea and even Julio Baptista should have been enough to push Orlando over the hump in an Eastern Conference that once again appears weaker than their Western counterparts.
That’s not to say Kreis just inherited a Ferrari straight from the factory. The defense is a bit of a mess and the DP signing of Antonio Nocerino (not made under Kreis’s watch) has been particularly disastrous. But the goodwill Kreis built up in Salt Lake has run a bit dry after being cut loose by NYC, which makes 2017 a very, very important year for him. Can he build the attacking core of Orlando into a balanced, relentless winning machine like he did in Salt Lake, with a much smaller market and budget than what he probably has to work with in Orlando? Because if he can’t, that front office doesn’t seem like the type to wait things out for very long.