Analysis: CF Montréal (h). Orlando made to rue missed chances as Montréal escape with a point.
Orlando City were made to rue a series of missed chances as they played out an entertaining draw with CF Montréal. Whilst this was far from a perfect result for the Lions, it keeps their recent unbeaten run going and consolidates their position, at least to a degree, in the standings. Another tough match, this time against the seemingly unbeatable New England Revolution looms, but there are plenty of positives for Oscar Pareja to take from this performance. Not least the long awaited return of Alexandre Pato.
Ultimately this was your classic game of two halves. Orlando created numerous chances during a frenetic opening period, though this tapered off somewhat in the second period as the Canadian side gained a foothold in the game. Chris Mueller gave Orlando the lead shortly before half-time before the French defender, Rudy Camacho, nabbed a second half equaliser. Orlando should've won this game, and will be disappointed in their failure to do so.
As disappointed as Orlando will be to not win the game, it was arguably just as important to avoid defeat, given the state of other results in the eastern conference. Orlando's 5 point cushion to the chasing pack remains firmly in situ.
One aspect of Orlando's performance that really impressed me, more so in the first half than in the second, was Orlando's high press. The intensity in their press was high and actually forced Montréal into several turnovers, which often led to Orlando recovering the ball (figure 1). Orlando also attempted a high number of tackles high up the pitch in the game overall (figure 2).
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This effective press meant that Montréal never had a chance to settle into the game, at least not to the extent they did during their 4-2 victory a matter of weeks ago. This was, perhaps, reflected in the fact that Montréal didn't have a single attempt on goal in the first half. They just couldn't escape the Orlando pressure.
My only real gripe was that Orlando didn't make that pressure count. I firmly believe if Orlando had scored more than the 1 they got, we are reflecting on 3 points right now. I think Orlando ultimately expended a lot of energy with their first half pressing, which is why they really needed to make it count; there was a notable drop off in the second 45, which one could reasonably attach to tiredness.
Figure 1 shows Orlando's interception positioning matrix, whole 90.
Figure 2 shows Orlando's tackle attempt positioning matrix, whole 90.
A return to goalscoring form for Chris Mueller
Cash's on-field issues have been well documented this season. Indeed, at times, 2020 has seemed increasingly like an outlier, at least in terms of numbers. Many have also accused him of already being in Edinburgh, mentally, following on from his pre-contract signing for Scottish Premier League outfit Hibernian. It was nice to see him back amongst the goals for Orlando City in this game. I felt he worked just as hard as anyone on the team, and was duly rewarded with a well taken finish just before half-time.
Mueller was particularly problematic for Aljaž Struna, as the Orlando man worked the left side of the field well, even giving Struna the slip for his goal (figure 3). Mueller worked hard on defence and got up the pitch quickly to support the attack (figure 4). His hard defensive work was particularly important in this game, due to the threat of Mathieu Choinière, aswell Montréal's front 3, when they attempted to isolate Emmanuel Mas (who I thought was our best player).
I don't think Orlando will miss him tremendously when he leaves. Yes I know that's about as controversial as saying The Last Jedi wasn't that bad of a movie, but I think it's the truth. As popular a guy as he is, his production has been poor. That being said, he played well in this game. And I don't think anyone can fairly question his commitment to the cause. He'll always be fondly remembered in Orlando.
Figure 3 is a game still from just before Orlando's goal.
Figure 4 shows Mueller's heatmap, whole 90.
Pedro Gallese is just stupendous
Orlando City are in the rather advantageous position of having reasonable goalkeeper depth. Even so, there can be no doubting that Orlando are much better off when El Pulpo is between the sticks. He distributed the ball reasonably well (71% pass completion) and generally commanded his area well. It's not this that I want to focus on, however. It's the stupendously ridiculous save he made to deny Ibrahim Sunusi just after half-time (above). The chance was rated as 57.18% in terms of XG by MLSsoccer.com. Gallese had no right saving that shot. He bailed out his defenders, particularly Rodrigo Schlegel whose positioning was way off. I hope Schlegel buys him a drink.
The Argentine defender seems to be making that left-back slot his own in recent weeks. This was another impressive performance from the erstwhile Boca Juniors defender. He completed 6 interceptions, 1 clearance, 1 key pass and 78.1% of his 55 passes. He provides solid attacking width and strong defensive cover. I think he'll prove to be a valuable commodity during the play-offs. His experience of playing in high pressure environments will serve him well as Orlando City go in search of their maiden MLS Cup title.
Gallese -7- What a save.
Ruan -7- Great run and cross for the goal.
Schlegel -6- Positioning suspect at times.
Jansson -7- Solid distribution from the back.
Mas -8- His best game for us so far.
Rosell -7- Hasn't played much, but acquitted himself well overall.
Urso -7- Great energy in the middle of the park.
Mueller -7- His best game for a while.
Michel -7- Great movement at times in the final third.
Pereyra -7- Found those little pockets of space well.
Dike -7- Effective hold up play on the whole.
Pato -6- HE'S ALIVE!
Nani -6- Very quiet when he came on.
Van Der Water -6- Looked bright, but was unable to impact the game.
Akindele -6- Hardly got a kick.
Mendez -7- Came in for the injured Rosell and was just Sebas.
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