• Dan Berridge

Analysis: Chicago Fire (a). Lacklustre Orlando are comfortably beaten by the Fire.

Orlando City were well beaten in Chicago on Wednesday evening. A much changed XI looked to be on the way to 3 valuable points, when Andres Perea fired the Lions into the lead with a well executed finish. Indeed Orlando were doing OK up until that point. Admittedly they had rode their luck once or twice, but they'd looked menacing on the counter attack, and were decent value for the lead. Then, on the stroke of half-time, some dithering in the back-line led to Chicago tying the game with the last play of the half. Boris Sekulić was given the freedom of the penalty area by Kyle Smith, as Orlando failed to put any pressure on Álvaro Medrán. The Spaniard picked Sekulić out with a precision cross, and the Slovak headed the ball past Brandon Austin with consummate ease.

It went from bad to worse for the Lions I n the second 45, as goals from Robert Berić and Chinonso Offor inflicted Orlando's second consecutive defeat. The defending, to be honest, was lackadaisical, and symptomatic of a tired looking side that have played a lot of football recently. Kyle Smith leads the team in minutes with 1,080 played. It might sound like excuse making; mainly because it is. I'm feeling optimistic about life in general, because... You know. It's coming home! This positive outlook is making me see the glass half-full. But, if I'm being brutally honest this is a fallacy, the defending just wasn't good enough. And it cost us, hugely.


Oscar Pareja's reactive, as opposed to proactive, use of his substitutions was, frankly, bizarre. Orlando had ridden their luck up until the point where Chicago finally took the lead. Pareja will face questions as to why he left it so long to introduce Pereyra et al. Chicago were in the ascendancy, and Orlando were creating precious little going forward. The changes needed to be made earlier, of that there can be no doubt.


Anyway, without further ado let's get stuck into the cusp of exactly what went wrong...


Defensive frailties


For the second successive game the Lions displayed some very un-Oscar Pareja like traits in their defensive line. A lack of awareness, co-ordination and organisation consigned the Lions to defeat. The equaliser, in my opinion, was the most critical goal of the game. Orlando had the lead, and had they gotten to halftime with that slender advantage still in tact, it could've been a while different ball game. As it happens, they didn't. My issue with this goal is two-fold; firstly Medrán has far too much time on the ball. Secondly, Kyle Smith is caught ball watching. As such, he is totally unaware of Sekulić's whereabouts. The Fire man then has a relatively simple task to restore parity.

The equaliser was significant in swinging the pendulum towards the Illinois club. If you look at figure 1, you'll see exactly what I mean regarding the time Medrán has. Neither Junior Urso or Tesho Akindele get into the Spaniard until he delivers the cross. Prior to this game still, the Chicago man has a 6 second window before the two Orlando men even consider closing him down. Medrán's cross is perfect, and finds Sekulić perfectly. Kyle Smith, at this point, is watching the ball (figure 2). He has no idea where Sekulić is, who peels away to the back post well. It's a nightmare goal for the Lions, and one that swings the game in Chicago's favour.




Figure 1 is a game still from just before Chicago's equaliser.

Figure 2 is a game still from just before Chicago's equaliser.


The go ahead goal was just what the home team deserved. The warning signs were there, particularly with their disallowed goal. That man Medrán taunted us again, driving through the Orlando midfield far too easily. No one gets close enough to him. Then, just to help the Spaniard out more, Robin Jansson and Rodrigo Schlegel leave a Cloud Gate sized gap between themselves for Robert Berić to dart into. The erstwhile AS Saint-Étienne striker then makes no mistake when one on one with Austin, who is far too late to rush out. Austin gives himself precious little chance to save the effort. It's an easy opportunity for the Slovak forward, as is reflected in the 41.3% XG score on mlssoccer.com. He's also aided by the fact that Kyle Smith doesn't step up, thus keeping him onside. Orlando then had a mountain to climb, and it was only then that Pareja introduced Pereyra and Nani, something that needed to happen 10 minutes earlier. The game was fast getting away from the Lions.


As for the third goal, well... Just skip on ahead to the next subsection.

Figure 3 is a game still from just before Chicago's second goal.


Brandon Austin


He's never really been tested to this point, not consistently at least. This might seem harsh, and I'm aware he's a young player, who will undoubtedly improve. But... He was exceptionally poor. His whoscored.com rating of 5.5, is probably overly kind. Austin made 1 save, during the entire game. Which was a rather unmemorable daisy cutter. His diving and positioning were just lacklustre. His attempt (and I use that word loosely) to save the 3rd goal (see clip in figure 3) reminded me of when I would go in goal as a kid, to cover for injuries. The coaches would be like 'hey, Dan. You're tall, cover in goal.' My dives were like when a lumberjack cuts down a really tall tree, and it takes about half an hour for the tree to actually fall. That was Brandon Austin on this play. He is a little exposed (fair enough), Chicago broke deep into injury time as Orlando searched for an equaliser. That happens. And sometimes you need your keep to come up clutch, and ours didn't.


Austin's yet to make any significant saves for Orlando City. And that has to be a worry for Oscar Pareja. Thankfully Pedro Gallese should be back for the Toronto game.

Figure 3 shows a clip of Chicago's 3rd goal.


Top player


Silvester Van Der Water

The flying Dutchman (see what I did there?), was by far Orlando's greatest threat throughout the game. He probably did his claims for a more regular starting berth no harm either. His movement, in the final third, was excellent. He looked confident, at times, too. Whilst it was far from a complete or consistent performance from the former Heracles man, there were more than enough glimpses of his enormous potential. Van Der Water had 2 shots, 1 successful dribble and 6 key passes. He occupied a number of spaces across the attacking third (see heatmap below, figure 5). He was dispossessed on 5 occasions, but at least get was trying to make things happen. Which is more than can be said of some of his teammates.

Figure 5 shows Silvester Van Der Water:s heatmap, whole 90.

Player ratings


Starting XI


Austin -5- Very poor, should do better with at least the 2nd and 3rd goals. Arguably the 1st too.


Halliday -6- A young player, who looks to have a decent future ahead of him. Was let down by his more experienced teammates.

Schlegel -6- Positioning was all over the place.

Jansson -6- Poor positioning at multiple points during the game. Very unlike him

Smith -5- Huge fan of his, but he was at fault for the equaliser and the break ahead goal.


Perea -6- Took his goal nicely but was ll disciplined with his forward runs. Chicago had the run of midfield at times.

Urso -6- Much like Perea, committed forward too often and Orlando were overrun.

Rosell -6- Looked way off the pace.


Van Der Water -7- Tried to make things happen, and got into some decent areas.

Michel -6- Or Mitchell, according to UniMas, was full of running but had precious little joy.


Akindele -6- Fed off of scraps.


Substitutes


Nani -7- Looked to make things happen. Did more in 15 mins, than some did in 90.

Mueller -6- Was enthusiastic and stereotypically hard working.

Pereyra -6- Came in far too late.

Mendez -7- Should've started.

Alvarado -6- Didn't get much chance to have an impact.

*All statistics courtesy of whoscored.com and MLSsoccer.com

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