Analysis: Charlotte FC (h). Orlando Continue To Flounder At Exploria Stadium.
Let me set the scene. It's 00:17 on Sunday morning in the UK. Kerwin Vargas has just put Charlotte into a 2 goal lead. Charlotte. You know, 0-0-3 Charlotte. A goal difference of -6 already Charlotte. And I am livid. I have been doing this for 3 years now, but I've been a City fan since 2011. I'm a supporter first and foremost. And I'm running low on patience.
It's just not good enough.
Orlando started brightly enough, having an early goal chalked off and creating some decent openings. As per usual, Orlando don't take any of those chances. They don't look after the ball well. They defend poorly. And they get punished.
I don't think we know how to be 'protagonists'. The much touted phrase is the biggest falacy. It's an idealistic notion that we've never threatened to justify on a consistent basis. It's a completely disingenuous moniker for this team. We have spent so long approaching games with this mentality of 'OK, let's score a goal and then just defend', that I don't think we know how to play on the front foot. We don't know how to go for the jugular.
I wouldn't even say the issue is tactical. The formation and set up is fine. Attacking football is something that has to be coached. We looked, every bit a team that has the technical ability to play one and two touch passes, little triangles to get out of situations, but without the know how and cohesion to carry it off effectively. We're a poor footballing side with very good footballers in it. That's a coaching issue. It's a mentality issue. We're not a team of winners.
We aren't a fun watch.
It's been that way for much of the last 2 years. People will point to the Open Cup. Of course. That was incredible. But, in MLS play we have been average since the Covid season. In any case, the Open Cup papered over a lot of cracks for me. People seem to forget we finished the season with 5 defeats in 7, post the final. On the run up, we had a bit of a purple patch (4 wins in 4), but it was 2 wins in 10 prior to that. We were a midtable team.
There were so many red flags in this game. The Apple TV broadcast team referred to Charlotte's attack as 'aneamic'. Yet they cut through us with frightening regularity.
You guys know I like to pull the positives. I'm generally a positive person. But this match has rubbed me up the wrong way. I can't even be bothered to make a Star Wars reference. God damn.
In case you hadn't already gathered, this is one of those pieces that's less of an analysis and more of an angry rant.
After the second goal, for the rest of the first half. We were limp. Rudderless. Totally ineffective.
The second half wasn't much of an improvement in my opinion. In the post match, Oscar defended his players, hailing their commitment and second half display. I think that's a little disingenuous. The team are committed, but we weren't good in the second 45. We were better in the second half, sure. But we couldn't get much worse now, could we? But to say we were good in the second half, in comparison to the first, is a false equivalency. We were a bit better, but the performance in the first half was so bad. Being better isn't the same as being good. He even went as far as too say it was 'fantastic' (in the second half), in a game they 'assumed they would win'. Wow.
We offered nothing, despite having 11 shots on goal. We never looked like scoring again. Jack Lynn had a decent chance, as did Ramiro Enrique. But I never felt like Orlando were going to score again. We had an open play XG of 1.38, from 19 shots! Only 7 were on frame, which tells you the quality of attempts we were having. Most were speculative efforts from outside the box as we seemed completely incapable of breaking down one of the worst teams in the league.
It's getting harder and harder to defend Oscar Pareja. He will always be a legend for taking us up a level, establishing us as a play-off force, for winning the US Open Cup. But, for me, it's time to make a change. The trends that concerned me last season, simply are not dissipating. We are not an entertaining watch. We should be dominating teams with the talent we have now, but how often does that happen? How often can we all honestly say we have been entertained by an Orlando City home display? We're awful at home. Losing at home and attempting to sh*those a 1-0 win in every away game, before ultimately drawing 1-1 is not a viable strategy if you want to win MLS Cup or the Supporters Shield.
It's time for the Orlando City front office to make a bold decision.
There were few positives to take from this game, but one was the debut goal by Orlando's marquee winter signing.
That's all I've got to say, to be honest.
Gallese -7- Must be sick of being overworked every game.
Halliday -6- Needs to move quicker to charge Vargas down for their second.
Jansson -6- Long range passing was off and caught out for the first.
Schlegel -6- Struggled to play out from the bank.
Santos -6- Way out of position for the opener.
Pereyra -6- A few bright moments, but not many.
Araujo -7- One of the better players on the day. Not that, that's saying much.
Torres -5- Completely out of the game.
Ojeda -6- Scored.
Þórhallsson -6- Not sure why he was subbed.
McGuire -6- Worked hard.
Smith -6- Came in so we could shif to a back 3.
Angulo -7- Looked a threat.
Enrique -6- Had a goal chalked off, but was offside.
Gonzalez -6- Offered little.
Lynn -6- Unlucky with the chance he had.
Head Coach Oscar Pareja:
“It's a moment where we lost three points at home in a match that we all assumed that we should win. You could see in the two halves and the way the game ended, I have to say that I'm very proud of these players. It's my responsibility to create a lineup and to create a game plan and in that part, I have to analyze what occurred in the first half and it did not help the boys. The effort in the second [half] was fantastic. I just kept that image. I have to move forward, once again, I take that responsibility of being very unorganized [in the first half].”
*Top player image and cover image courtesy of Orlando City SC.
Post match footage courtesy of Orlando City SC.
B-Roll footage courtesy of Orlando City SC.