1. United’s backline continues to fold under pressure
Despite beating Orlando City, United never really looked comfortable in defense during the game. There were moments where the backline could have done a much better job at marking or covering space down the wings.
Throughout the game, wingbacks Joseph Mora and Oniel Fisher frequently pushed forward when the team had possession. Their movements gave a lot of free space to Orlando City’s Chris Mueller down the wing on counter-attacks. During the second half, Orlando City used this free space to feed a ball to Oriol Rosell in the penalty box where he deflected the ball off Ousted for the goal.
Center-back Steve Birnbaum also had a difficult time against Orlando City on Sunday. He often had trouble keeping up with centre-forward, Dom Dwyer, down the middle. Dwyer was able to use his speed and agility to get free from Birnbaum who often had little support from teammate Kofi Opare when he was beaten.
These defensive miscues came back to bite United in the second half. With a single through ball to Dwyer, Orlando City was able to completely break apart United’s defensive line. Dwyer beat Birnbaum off the ball and was able to chip his shot past Ousted for the equalizer.
Moving forward, United will have to play with much more discipline and organization in defense. The team can’t afford to give up goals on defensive miscues anymore. In order to address these recent struggles, Olsen could opt to make changes at the left back position.
The team recently acquired left back Vytautas Andriuškevičius from Seattle, so he could be inserted into the starting lineup over Fisher or Mora sometime soon. Defender Chris Odoi-Atsem could also see more playing time during the team’s next stretch of games.
As the season continues to progress, Olsen will need to find a consistent backline that will help United escape the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings.