Orlando City had a lot of things to be thankful for, and appreciative of, in Chicago. Lady luck. The officials. Their clinical finishing. Georgios Koutsias' lack of understanding regarding the offside rule.
Despite their good fortune, I felt it was a win Orlando City deserved. They were tenacious; they played with a fire in their belly that has been fanned for the last 17 days by the memory of the injustices inflicted upon them in Fort Lauderdale.
Once Orlando hauled themselves in front, they managed the game well. And they were ultimately good value for the win. They were far more alert, far sharper, in both areas, than their hosts. Chicago, for what it's worth, had all the clarity and organisation of a Star Wars sequel movie plot.
Wilder Cartagena was integral for Orlando City
Wilder Cartagena was at the heart of everything that was good for Orlando City.
It might not have been the prettiest of performances in an aesthetic sense. It certainly wasn't champagne football. But it was gritty, dogged and determined. Everything that Wilder is. He shielded the back 4 whilst simultaneously ensuring we won the midfield battle which then gave us a springboard to break forward and, ultimately, win the game.
Cartagena broke up play well with his defensive work (figure 1), but he also used the ball well when setting up attacks (figures 2 & 3). Football is a simple game that is, more often than not, won and lost in midfield. If you have a guy like Cartagena, who can break up play, recover the ball and then use it to get your team moving up the field, then you're on to a winner. Chicago Fire didn't do a good enough job of combatting Cartagena in the middle of the park (or their own box for that matter), and that's why they lost this game.
Figure 1 shows Cartagena's key statistics from the game.
Figure 2 shows Cartagena's pass positioning matrix, whole 90.
Figure 3 shows Orlando's passing network, note Cartagena's involvement (16).
Facundo Torres was back to his best
Facu was great. When he's at his best, then so are Orlando. He delivered an excellent corner for the Cartagena goal. He also dispatched his penalty with aplomb. He could, or even, should, also, have had a penalty in the first half. Spencer Richey seems to get a slight knick on the ball, but it was a clumsy challenge. On another day Torres gets that call.
Regardless, Torres was everywhere in this game (figure 4). He made things happen and looked dangerous everytime he got on the ball. He had an XG of 0.85 and an XA of 0.32. I should say his XG was significantly boosted by the penalty he took (78.84%), but still... Torres created 2 chances, including 1 big chance whilst making 4 passes into the final third and completing 2 crosses.
It was a really positive performance from El Cuervo.
Figure 4 shows Torres' heatmap, whole 90.
Goal aside, he encapsulated everything that was positive in this Orlando City away day victory. He was disciplined, considered in possession and defensively resolute; the Peruvian midfielder made 7 recoveries, 1 interception and 1 headed clearance. On the ball, he helped Orlando to keep possession at key periods during the game, completing 90% of his 42 passes.
Gallese -7- Made 3 saves and was solid in all areas.
Þórhallsson -7- Acquitted himself well at right-back.
Schlegel -7- Abley deputised for Antonio Carlos.
Jansson -7- Played the ball out from the back well.
Santos -8- Constant threat going forward.
Araujo -8- Broke up play well.
Cartagena -9- Took his goal well and was a key component in this performance.
Torres -9- At his brilliant best.
Pereyra -7- Threaded things together well.
Angulo -8- Constant threat.
McGuire -6- Had some positive moments, but was a bit isolated.
Jr Urso -7- The 🐻 is back!
Smith -7- Helped to shore things up.
Halliday -6- Came in very late.
Ojeda -6- Freshened things up.
Enrique -6- Lively.
Orlando City head coach Oscar Pareja
"We're very happy with the victory, very proud of the players, we played very correctly. In the first half we dominated, could have been more effective. And in the second half, Chicago had the reaction and after they started leading the score. I thought our boys showed a lot of character and control of the game and then we scored goals. After that, again Chicago was trying to react but overall, we controlled it well. So I think we played very well. I'm very proud of the players and the effort was remarkable tonight.”
Top player image and cover image courtesy of Orlando City SC.
Media availability and B-Roll footage courtesy of Orlando City SC.