The Nightingale: Orlando

The Nightingale: Orlando

By Richard Nightingale

“We don’t get any marks for effort like in ice- skating” – Kevin Keegan

As of writing Pittsburgh slipped to ninth place in the Eastern Conference after the home defeat to Orlando. At this point that’s all rather secondary to more underlying concerns.

Giving a very mediocre performance Pittsburgh did enough to salvage a point. Certainly had plenty of the ball but once again ‘quality’ was in short supply, that ‘ruthlessness’ which defines good teams. It was notable in the last third but the root of the issue lies in the lack of creativity and guile from the core of midfield players.

Very subdued performances from all of the midfield four, particularly Mike Green who just looked lost and a passenger.

Hertzog was clinical with his finish to put Pittsburgh ahead and should have been a spark to better things. Instead Pittsburgh regressed and had poor spells either side of half time where Orlando earned the win. All losses are hard but this was an eminently winnable game against a young, typical ‘B’ team. Granted Earl Edwards Jr came up big in the final moments with a class save but Pittsburgh even after a ten day break looked devoid of inspiration and creativity.

Having played twelve games, Pittsburgh have a negative goal difference of minus one.

We don’t have much more time to invest in Romeo Parkes rehabilitation. He’s not an out and out forward and should be playing wide in the midfield. Can’t play with his back to goal and needs to see the game in front of him. Got a lot of raw talent but needs to start repaying faith showed in him. The currency is goals.

No excuse for a fit Kay Banjo not to get an extended run in team, at least three games.

Nobody (even me) can question the effort being left on the pitch. My worry is that this system Brandt is playing week in week out is taking its toll physically on the squad. This many injuries and recurring injuries are not usual so early in a season. I have no doubt training and playing so often on ‘field turf’ is a factor. The injuries have caused Brandt to rotate starting lineups but keeping a squad healthy and fit is one of the responsibilities of management and also an ‘art’. Without the ‘loanees’ would have been even more dire.

With the anomaly of Rochester a few seasons back no season was ultimately ever defined by how few goals you give up. You have to score more than the opposition. Take more shots from outside the box, especially from midfield players. Get the ball into wide areas in last third and drive to the byline, pulling the ball back to midfield players who should be flooding the box. Most successful, teams have at least two midfield players who will score ten plus goals a season. Pittsburgh’s midfield have scored?

Getting the ball wide and swinging crosses in to be dealt with by tall, dominant center halfs is futile. We saw that again with Orlando.

Figure the midfield out and everything will get better, start clicking. Even if done with signing(s).

Much to play for. Need to see more ‘quality’ in the ‘engine room’. On to Toronto.


Mike Sparks

In addition to watching, coaching, and occasionally playing soccer, Mike also enjoys talking all things soccer over at the Mon Goals podcast. Go give the show a listen and let him know what you think