Nico Lodeiro and Luis Muriel start on the bench as Orlando City falls 5-0 to Inter Miami

Lodeiro Muriel Orlando Miami

Photo Credit: Orlando City SC

Ft. Lauderdale, FLOrlando City came crashing back down to Earth after falling 5-0 to Inter Miami. This is definitely not the start to the MLS season that Orlando wanted. After drawing at home to Montreal CF and now falling 5-0 to Miami, Orlando need to figure out who’s going to step up and be the leader on the pitch that dictates the match. Nico Lodeiro and Luis Muriel, Orlando City’s two main signees this offseason, started on the bench vs Miami. They have to become acclimated with the rest of the squad and become fixtures in the starting lineup. However, the young leaders can not sit back and wait for Nico and Luis to figure it out.

Is there a leadership void?

Orlando has only managed to secure one point after two MLS matches played. Sure, it’s early in the season, and teams are still becoming acclimated with new faces. However, a draw at home and a 5-0 loss to your rival starting the season is a cause for concern. Could it be that the loss of Mauricio Pereyra left a leadership void in the locker room or even on the pitch? The squad, in both their MLS matches, have looked lost at times. Pereyra wasn’t dynamic, lacked speed, and wasn’t aggressive enough for my taste, but he did keep them organized.

Who will step up?

Nico Lodeiro, who many believe to be an upgrade at the position over Pereyra, along with Luis Muriel, who many, including myself, have compared his goal-scoring prowess in Serie A to Cristiano Ronaldo, both started on the bench. For whatever reason that may be, whether they lack fitness or they’re not yet familiar with the system, you aren’t going to win with those guys on the bench. It’s better to lose with them on the field so that at least they’re gaining experience with the team and getting real reps.

Young Ballers

That being said, Orlando did have young players who left their mark after last season. Facundo Torres is a bonafide baller. Orlando decided to award the #10 jersey to Torres after the departure of Pereyra and the signing of Lodeiro (who both donned the #10 jersey). He earned it. He stepped up, led the team in goals, and was top in assists last season. I thought Torres would once again take another step up, even with the incoming of Lodeiro and Muriel, and become the team’s new leader up front. However, he seems content letting the game come to him instead of taking control and dictating.

Duncan McGuire is another young player who tore it up last season. His goal tally was 2nd only to Torres and he played fewer matches. He was on his way to the English Football League Championship before Blackburn’s clerical error derailed that. You’d think he’d show up with something to prove, at least to try and get more money from Blackburn during the next transfer window, but it seems as if unless the ball isn’t being lobbed to him with space, or unless he’s on a breakaway where he can use his speed, he hasn’t shown much else that he can do. He’ll need to find a way to start scoring quickly, otherwise his overseas stock might drop.

How the SunPass Derby was won

Without anyone to dictate Orlando’s play early on, they quickly fell victim to the possession and spacing that Miami can develop. After a hard foul from Captain Robin Jansson on Luis Suarez, Suarez returned the favor. Suarez, with help from 2023 MLS Champ, Julian Gressel, scored two quick goals and assisted another to Robert Taylor shortly after. 3-0 at the half.

In the 2nd half, Coach Oscar Pareja decided to bring on Nico Lodeiro and Luis Muriel. They subbed in for Wilder Cartagena and Duncan McGuire, respectively. Muriel made his MLS Debut. Unfortunately, it was too little too late. Leo Messi scored a weird goal off a rebound in 57′ and another goal, this time an amazing header, just five minutes later off another assist from Suarez. This is the 2nd time Messi plays vs Orlando and he’s scored a brace in each match. He must hate purple after all those years of facing Real Madrid.

Next up for Orlando, they host Tigres UANL in 1st leg of the Round of 16 – Concacaf Champions Cup.

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