Here's three things that crossed my mind after watching the first half of tonight's Orlando City - New York City game.
MLS officiating remains rugged. Tonight's official, Allen Chapman, has called a really loose game. By loose, read full of fouls and direct, physical play. This isn't new; MLS officiating has always had a reputation for that. But when you're looking to improve the perception of your league, it doesn't help that officials the game in such a way that League 2-caliber defenders can shut down players like Sebastian Giovinco. More importantly, calling the game that way absolutely kills the pace and flow of the game, as foul upon retaliatory foul mounts up, and officials struggle to get hold of the game.
MLS used Designated Players to gradually improve the quality of the league across the board over the years. They might consider borrowing a page from the old American Basketball Association, and have designated refs. Seriously: find the best referees in the world, and hire them. It made the quality of play rise exponentially in the ABA, and I suspect the same would happen in MLS.
Cyle Larin is a handful. The second-year MLS starlet is proving thus far that last year wasn't a fluke. He scored tonight's only goal thus far with his face, and while that one might've been flukey, he's been a constant threat for the Lions. If New York City is going to win tonight, they'll need to keep him quiet.
Blues' finishing has to be more clinical. New York City dominated the first half on the run of play, but went into half losing 1-0. As the second half begins, Patrick Vieira has made one substitution thus far to address that: speedy winger Khiry Shelton, who was ineffective in the first half, came off for the even faster Stiven Mendoza, who possesses a natural nose for goal and led the Indian Super League in scoring.