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  • Writer's pictureDan Berridge

Analysis: Atlanta United (h). Orlando Pegged Back Late By Determined Atlanta.

Orlando City again let a late lead sleep, having failed to make the most of their chances and kill the game as a contest. Despite that, Orlando had one of their most positive performances of recent weeks, carving out some decent opportunities that they were just unable to take advantage of.

The Lions took a deserved lead through Kyle Smith in the first half, before Tyler Wolff pegged the Lions back late on. Dropping the points will have been a huge frustration to Oscar Pareja and his team, but they can certainly take heart from their performance.

The Atlanta equaliser had more than a smattering of good fortune about it. Whilst the 5 Stripes lead MLS in goals from set pieces, you can't legislate for this sort of set-piece goal. Pedro Gallese does everything right in terms of parrying it out, away from the goal. Smith actually gets a knick on the shot, and had he got a little more on it, it spins away for a corner. It was just unlucky.

Orlando played on the front foot with good possession in midfield

Honestly, that's all I've ever wanted from this team. Just to have a bit of go and not be content to sit on a 1-0 lead. I know we ultimately ended up trying to defend a goal advantage, but that had as much to do with a combination of profligate finishing and good goalkeeping as it did anything else. I felt there was a sharpness to Orlando's play. Facundo Torres looked a bit more like his usual self, he was more dynamic and direct. Wilder Cartagena and Cesar Araujo distributed the ball well, and were always on the lookout for Torres and Ivan Angulo in the wide areas (figure 1).

Both central midfielders were integral to everything positive Orlando did on Saturday. Cartagena, had a particularly good game, completing 93% of his 54 passes; his distribution was excellent. His pass to Torres on 50 minutes, which ultimately led to a shot from Smith, had all the accuracy of someone bullseying a womprat with their T-16 back home. Sorry, I know my Star Wars references are getting out of hand. Actually, f*** it, I'm not sorry at all.

Araujo, as well, had one of his better games of the season. He did his share of defensive work, making 7 recoveries, 1 interception, 1 tackle and 1 block. His long throws are becoming a bit more menacing too. He found Ercan Kara (again) in the first half, who attempted a flicked header, similar to the one he scored in Fort Lauderdale. Unfortunately, Brad Guzan was able to make a smart save at his near post, and deny the former Rapid Vienna striker.

Figure 1 shows Orlando's passing network.

Figure 2 is a clip from the second half.

Angulo and Torres were more threatening

The form of Torres has been a concern so far this season. This team needs him to find the best version of himself on the field. There were tentative signs he's beginning to get back to something like his best form on Saturday; he didn't seem like he was playing within himself as much.

There were times when Atlanta were quite happy to let him go 1-v-1 with Andrew Gutman at left-back. And Gutman certainly stood him up well overall. But the intent was there from Facu; he attempted 12 dribbles, was successful with 6, created 2 chances and had an xA of 0.80. Which shows he was trying to make things happen. His movement was particularly good (figure 3), and he generally just looked more confident.

He's not there yet, but he's certainly getting there. As for Ivan Angulo he was typically direct, although he didn't quite have the end product that he's had so consistently during his Orlando City career. Regardless, he got forward well and gave

Ronald Hernández plenty to think about.

Figure 3 shows Torres' heatmap, whole 90.

Top player

Wilder Cartagena

I've mentioned his numbers already, but I didn't point out that he led the match in passes and tackles. He was everywhere in midfield for Orlando City. He also had a game high score of 7.7 on, which is indicative of his influence on this game. Top performance.

Player ratings

Starting XI

Gallese -7- Didn't have much to do.

Smith -7- Defended well and finished the goal nicely.

Antonio Carlos -7- Solid display.

Jansson -7- I bet he appreciated the tifo.

Santos -7- Looked fairly comfortable.

Cartagena -9- Ran the game.

Araujo -8- Did the dirty work.

Torres -7- Played with intent.

Pereyra -6- Not his best performance.

Angulo -7- Full of running.

Kara -7- Led the line well.


Enrique -6- Came in very late.

McGuire -7- Typically industrious.

Ojeda -7- Unlucky not to score the 2nd.


Orlando City head coach Oscar Pareja

“I have to say that we played well today and I want to congratulate that group of players that pushed that match and that energy. That’s the team that we want to see. The other part is the frustration of giving up another goal at the end and not walking away with the three points. At that part, the equation gets through things, soccer, fútbol, concentration, many things. But we want to see that team more often and we want to see that energy more often. We want to see that Orlando City. And to our fans, that support deserves much, much more. We wanted to walk off not with frustration but with joy, but I’m proud of this group today. Seriously, I think they played well.”

*All statistics courtesy of and

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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