Analysis: Charlotte FC (a). It's Tesho Time.
This was a much improved performance from Orlando City. All over the park, Orlando played with more courage and aggression than they have done in recent weeks. It was a game that saw Ercan Kara and Tesho Akindele return to goalscoring form. In all actuality, this return to form couldn't have come at a better time, with the cup final on the horizon, and Orlando's play-off hopes in the balance.
Orlando seemed to play with a lot more freedom and confidence in this game, which seemed to help accentuate more creativity which in turn helped to permeate a sense of flamboyance in the Lion's attack. The Lions weren't walking down the all too well trodden path of predictability. And, of course, Facundo Torres was at the centre of that.
Facu having more freedom
Facundo Torres was given a lot more freedom in this game. Sadly, this switch seems to have been born out of necessity, following the news of Alexandre Pato's knee surgery this week.
Still, Torres took to it like a duck to water. Pardon the pun. I know, I'm sad too. Regular readers will know what a fanboy I am when it comes to the former AC Milan striker. I may have cried. Maybe. It was like the season finale of Kenobi all over again. Where I also may have cried. Maybe.
Anyway, back to Facu... When I went back over the footage of this game, it was Facu's movement that impressed me the most. He popped up all over the field, often in those half spaces on the left and right edge of the penalty area (figures 1 & 2). He also had the freedom to drop deep and get on the ball, allowing the young Uruguayan to affect the game in his own way. Which is what he needs. He's too good to be tethered to one position.
I don't believe other teams have necessarily wised up to how good Torres is; look at the assist for Ercan Kara. Charlotte are so slow to get out to Torres, and he has all the time in the world to pick out a pass. And he does so nonchalantly.
So, whilst most of the rest of MLS is ignorant to a player that has created 32 chances so far this season, keep giving him the freedom to do what he wants. He'll make teams pay for their ignorance.
Figure 1 is a game still from the first half.
Figure 2 is a game still from the first half.
Figure 3 shows Torres' heatmap whole 90.
It's Tesho time
It's Tesho time. I'll never fully understand the hate this man gets. He's as solid a back-up striker as you're ever likely to find in MLS. The winning goal sums up both the man and the player. Never mind the lung busting run her made from the edge of his own area (figure 4). The finish itself is not easy at all. First off, the 'keeper does exceptionally well to parry the first effort. When the ball comes back to Tesho, he has to adjust his body position and wrap his left foot around the shot in an instant. It wasn't an easy chance at all; MLSSoccer.com rated the chance at 3.5% in terms of XG (figure 5). Fotmob.com had his overall XG at 0.25, which only serves to further underline the point.
Figure 4 is a clip showing Tesho's run and goal.
Figure 5 shows the XG rating for Tesho's late chance.
Mauricio Pereyra suits a deeper lying role
I think most of us have known this for a long while. Mauricio is a very gifted player technically and is very capable of playing a more advanced role. I believe he suits a deeper lying role, however. Particularly when you consider his high soccer IQ and impressive range of passing. He's able to start moves from deep and affect things in the opposing half of the field (figure 5). He's intelligent enough to move forward and not just anchor; Cesar Araujo is more than capable of doing that.
In Charlotte, Pereyra covered every blade of grass. He did great work on both sides of the ball; for example he made 2 interceptions and 3 recoveries, but he also created 2 chances and completed 2 crosses. Similarly to Torres, Pereyra needs freedom to impact the game. If he's allowed to drop deep, get on the ball and then drive it forward, rather than being used as the sole forward creator, he can have a tremendous impact on the game.
Figure 5 shows Pereyra's pass positioning matrix, whole 90.
Starred in more of a free role, which is something I've called for, for weeks. He initially started out on the right but was able to drift into more central areas and impact the game in a positive manner. Case and point, the first goal. Torres had 57 touches and completed 3 of his 5 dribbles, he also created 2 chances for his teammates. He's balling right now.
Gallese -7- Made some smart stops and commanded his area well.
Ruan -7- Has come under a lot of fire lately, but performed well here.
Antonio Carlos -7- Great ball out of the back for the winner.
Schlegel -7- Solid game covering for Jansson.
Smith -7- Was his old reliable self.
Pereyra -8- The conductor of the orchestra.
Araujo -7- Anchored the midfield well.
Mulraney -7- Worked tirelessly.
Torres -9- Superb.
Urso -7- Solid performance for the Bear.
Kara -7- Silenced a few doubters with that goal.
Michel -5- Didn't really get into the game.
Akindele -7- Game winning impact.
Cartagena -6- Good to get some minutes into him.
Gioachhini -6- As with Cartagena, it was good to get him a few minutes.
Head Coach Oscar Pareja:
“An excellent game for us to show the character of the players, an excellent game to prove that these guys are working hard and the game would reward them. What I saw in the first half, the football that the team played in the first half was very good. We dominated the tempo, we created chances, we avoided [letting Charlotte] create chances, we made superiorities in the spaces that we needed. I saw a lot of discipline, tactically, especially with the ball with these players. Second half we understood that, being away, sometimes you just want to hold the game higher but it’s normal that the reaction of the other team is aggressive and cost us that tie goal. But, I noticed that our reaction after that goal was very professional and calm, and that made us score the second one which is something that hasn’t happened much this season. So we’re proud.”
*All statistics courtesy of fotmob.com and whoscored.com.
Cover image courtesy of Orlando City SC.
Post match media availability footage and b-roll courtesy of Orlando City SC.