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  • Writer's pictureDan Berridge

Analysis: Atlanta United (a). More Derby Day Misery For Orlando City.

I'm gonna cut the BS and head straight into it this week. I'm not even going to make a silly Star Wars reference, okey day?

That performance worried me.

And it wasn't the players this time.

Oscar Pareja worried me.

Kyle Smith, a right-back by trade, starting as a 6, on his own essentially, whilst Dagur Dan Þórhallsson, a midfielder by trade, started at right-back, was... A choice. A bold one (sorry).

Atlanta were able to bypass our midfield with alarming frequency. This put unnecessary pressure on our back 4. Atlanta could have been out of sight by half-time, if not for the interventions of Pedro Gallese and Robin Jansson in particular.

Despite all of this, we actually looked really good in the final third. Lodeiro, Muriel, Angulo etc were actually linking up really well and playing some nice passes. Luis Muriel looked particularly threatening. His class was obvious. He's going to give teams a really hard time once he gets going. He seems to be everything we all hoped Alexandre Pato would be.

But, back to Pareja...


Why couldn't Pareja see that Smith in a 6, on his own basically, as Nico Lodeiro got forward, was not working at all? Atlanta were able to bypass our midfield ad nauseum. If you look at the amount of dribbles and key passes Atlanta were able to make in midfield areas, as well as the lack of interceptions made by Orlando in the same area (figures 1-3), you can see what I'm saying.

They were bypassing our midfield because we simply did not have one. Poor Kyle Smith was drowning out there. Thiago Almada was having a field day. We even made Xande Silva look like prime R9. And trust me, he was at Forest for a while, he's not that.

This is what worried me about Pareja.

How could he not see that was an issue? It was so patently obvious to anyone with a set of functioning eye balls.

This is, undoubtedly in my mind, why we lost this game.

Figure 1 shows Atlanta's key pass positioning matrix.

Figure 2 shows Atlanta's completed dribble positioning matrix.

Figure 3 shows Orlando's interception positioning matrix.

Our attacking play

This feels weird to say, given that we failed to score... Again. But... Orlando were actually pretty good going forward. Once the back 4 were able to get the ball from back to front, Orlando's forwards were able to cause Atlanta problems.

Luis Muriel was chief among them. He looked every inch the striker who, in 2020-21 was only outscored by Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku as he plundered 22 Serie A goals for Atalanta.

His movement was excellent (figure 4) as was his awareness of his teammates. He was consistently looking for Duncan McGuire, showing that the 2 players already have a decent connection.

As well as his movement his control and ability to receive the ball under pressure, before taking defenders out of the game with an effective dribble or intelligent pass was a joy to behold. It's easy to see why he's performed at such a high level in Europe.

Muriel was the shining light for an Orlando City side that needs to start winning.

And quickly.

Figure 4 shows Muriel's heatmap, whole 90.

Top player

Luis Muriel

The Colombian was a constant threat. With 60 touches, 6 touches in the opposition box, 9 passes into the final third, 1 chance created, 4 shots and an XGOT of 0.35 he was comfortably Orlando's biggest threat. Allowing him to reach his best form is going to be vital.

Player ratings

Starting XI

Gallese -7- Should save the first but kept us in it at key times.

Þórhallsson -6- Struggled.

Brekalo -7- Didn't do much wrong.

Jansson -7- Solid.

Rafael Santos -6- Didn't have his usual impact.

Smith -5- Was set up to fail.

Lodeiro -6- Played his game, but left Smith isolated.

Angulo -7- Looked threatening.

Ojeda -7- Unlucky not to score.

Muriel -8- Industrious.

McGuire -7- Worked hard.


Torres -6- Came on far too late.

Kocevski -6- Why not start him?

Halliday -6- Not sure what Oscar expected.

Mohammed -6- Too late.


Orlando City head coach Oscar Pareja

"Obviously we’re frustrated at not getting the result, but the team that was on the pitch today has a big effort on the game and a commitment to try to do it the best possible way we planned it during the week. But I’m very proud of them. Obviously, the frustration at this point is probably bigger, but we are professionals, and we have to move on. There is a bunch of things that we saw today that left us with the taste that we can bounce back."

*All statistics courtesy of

Top player image and cover image courtesy of Orlando City SC.

Media availability and b-roll footage courtesy of Orlando City SC.


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