Editorial — With the fanfare of MLS returning behind them, the polarizing Group A began their toughest stretch of fixtures during Match Week 2. In a set of matches that may mean a trip to the knockout stage or a trip sent home, here’s how the clubs fared.
Orlando makes a statement
There were some predictions that the tournament being held in Orlando could be seen as an advantage for the Orlando City Lions. That said, I didn’t see anyone predict this type of start to their campaign.
In one of the statements of the tournament, hosts Orlando City trounced NYCFC, 3-1, on Tuesday. Orlando was controlling the match from the start behind two Chris Mueller goals in the opening ten minutes.
Even with a fantastic strike from Jesus Medina in the 38th minute to halve the lead, the foothold was still Orlando’s. An attacking midfield three of Nani, Mauricio Pereira and Chris Mueller completely overwhelmed the City defense. Fullbacks Joao Moutinho and Ruan also provide a late run in the channels that not many MLS clubs can replicate.
With six points in two matches, Orlando’s ticket to the knockout stage was punched in the most convincing of ways.
City’s window closes in MLS
In another disappointing 90 minutes, group favorites NYCFC drop to last in the group via a 3-1 loss to Orlando City.
In another disheartening loss, Orlando ran NYCFC off the pitch. The backline couldn’t handle an early Orlando surge, and couldn’t keep them in it late in the match.
If it weren’t for a Jesus Medina wonder strike, City could have potentially been held to yet another clean sheet. There isn’t a main concern with this NYCFC squad, all parts of the pitch are in need of improvement.
The Pigeons may still be able to sneak into the knockout stage with a win vs. Inter, but they have shown no signs that they can clinch three points in this tournament.
Philadelphia Embraces adversity
In the MLS world, Philadelphia went from dark horse contender to a club no team wants to face. The quality all across the pitch led to another sublime performance.
I won’t call them the favorites yet, but man have these last two performances been eye-opening.
Got 'Em 🔥
— PhilaUnion (@PhilaUnion) July 17, 2020
Miami can’t get a result in MLS play
If Inter Miami had been playing any of the 22 other clubs in the tournament, their quality shown vs. Philadelphia would have been enough to win the match.
I can’t overestimate this goal if I wanted to, the Pizarro equalizer was an absolute beauty of a build-up.
— Inter Miami CF (@InterMiamiCF) July 15, 2020
But like I’ve said in the last recap, consolation doesn’t get you three points. In the case of Inter Miami, it leaves them on the outside looking in for the knockout stage.
The conclusion of Group A
With Philadelphia and Orlando already punching their ticket to the knockout stage, all eyes will be on Miami and NYCFC for who may be able to sneak in.
As a reminder, only the four best third-place teams can advance to the knockout stage. Therefore, three points may not even be enough to advance, but it gives the club at least a glimmer of hope.
NYCFC take on Inter Miami Monday at 9 a.m., a statement is ready to be made.