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  • Writer's pictureDan Berridge

Analysis: Cavalry FC (a). Commanding Win For The Lions, To All But Seal Passage To The Next Round.

It was important for Orlando City to get off to a good start in what represented a banana skin tie for the Lions. In the unfamiliar surroundings (for both teams) of Starlight Field, Vancouver Island, Orlando produced a dominant display to wrestle the tie away from their Canadian hosts.

I felt Orlando were excellent in all areas of the pitch. They pressed well, they were aggressive in said press, they moved the ball around well, their attacking movement was positive...

With all due respect to Cavalry, Orlando are the superior outfit. And even in the absence of head coach Oscar Pareja, serving a suspension carried over from last season's contentious tie against Tigres, they made sure they showed it. Cavalry need a 4 goal margin of victory in Central Florida next week. There's more chance of them finally stopping The Walking Dead, in all honesty.

This was a game that could have been much trickier for Orlando. Had they underestimated their hosts, and not done everything in their power to win the physical battle, it could have been a much more difficult evening.

As it happens, the tie is probably already over. They just need to see out the job at Orlando City stadium next week.

Ball movement

One aspect of Orlando City's play that really stood out to me, was their possession and retention of the ball. For the first 5-6 minutes, Orlando struggled to blow off their pre-season cobwebs. After that, however, they began to click into gear and dominate possession.

Overall, the Lions played 531 total passes, completing 434 of them for an average of 82%. This lead to Orlando having 55% of the play. The positioning of Orlando's back-line was quite high l, which allowed them to really squeeze up on their hosts, who were utilising a low block. As such the majority of Orlando's accurate passes took place in the Cavalry half.

The movement of Duncan McGuire, Facundo Torres, Iván Angulo and Martín Ojeda meant that Orlando were able to shift the Cavalry low-block from side to side, whilst prying for openings. The fact that Orlando had 34 touches in the Cavalry penalty area, leading to 10 shots and 3 big chances underscores how well Orlando moved the ball in the Cavalry half.

Pressure on the ball

Orlando weren't incessant in their pressure. They didn't need to be. At times, particularly for the last 20 minutes at 0-3, Orlando were quite happy to let the Canadian Premier League outfit have possession. Afterall, there's little sense in them over exerting themselves with the game won. Particularly with the home opener at the weekend in mind.

What they did do, though, is pressure the ball at the right times. Particularly in the first half. If you look at the examples in figures 1 and 2, they show good examples of Orlando pressuring the man in possession when Cavalry had chances to escape Orlando's press down the lines, which is something they tried, unsuccessfully, to do all evening. This meant Cavalry were never really able to get a foothold in the game.

Whenever Cavalry were able to bypass the first wave of the press from Orlando's front line, Wilder Cartagena did a particularly good job of mopping things up, winning tackles and loose passes in central areas (figure 3). It was very difficult for Cavalry to play through Orlando, hence why they had to go down the sides so often. And with the ever industrious Kyle Smith and Dagur Dan Þórhallsson in the full-back positions, they were never going to have much joy.

Figure 1 is a game still from the first half.

Figure 2 is a game still from the second half.

Figure 3 shows some of Wilder Cartagena's key defensive statistics.

Quality in the final third

The front 4 were all excellent. Ojeda looked particularly lively. Torres will obviously grab the headlines for his two goals, but Ojeda had a particularly good game. The Argentine playmaker, and the only important one in Florida, made 4 passes into the final third, 6 successful crosses, 5 chances creates, 1 big chance created and 1 assist. He was a big part of the reason Orlando were able to create 10 shots inside the box.

Angulo was also very bright, completing 4 successful crosses, 2 passes into the final third and having 8 touches in the opposition box. McGuire has clearly put the disappointment of his collapsed move to Blackburn Rovers on the backburner. His movement across the front post for the goal was clever and he worked tirelessly all evening.

Top player

Facundo Torres

The Uruguayan wasted no time in getting his season off to a great start. New contract but same old Facu. El Cuervo took both his goals with aplomb and looked to be oozing with confidence.

He's going to be central to everything Orlando do this season.

Player ratings

Starting XI

Gallese -6- Wasn't called into action until late on.

Smith -7- Solid performance.

Jansson -8- Our new skipper led things well from the back.

Schlegel -7- Didn't put a foot wrong.

Þórhallsson -7- Got up and down the line well.

Araujo -7- Sensible in possession.

Cartagena -8- The engine room.

Torres -9- Stole the show.

Ojeda -8- Excellent movement.

Angulo -8- Drove forward at every opportunity.

McGuire -7- Worked hard all night.


Enrique -7- Provided energy.

Felipe -7- Disciplined.

Rafael Santos -7- Got forward well.

Lynn -7- Looking forward to seeing more of him.

Lodeiro -7- Unlucky not to score when he hit the bar.


*All statistics courtesy of

Game stills courtesy of CONCACAF on YouTube.

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


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