Analysis: Chicago Fire (h). Kara Nets Maiden Goal As Orlando Ease To Important Victory.
There's an age old adage in soccer; you have to be in the right place at the right time. Which is exactly what happened with Ercan Kara's debut Orlando City goal. It ws great to see Kara get off the mark. We won't talk about the miss. That miss can be our Bruno. We don't talk about Bruno... Except to sing a 3 minute song about him, of course. Don't worry, I'm not going to sing.
In all seriousness though, this was a thoroughly deserved win for Orlando City. It could, and probably should, have been by a few more goals, but a win is a win. And after consecutive home defeats, I'll take them however they come to be honest.
Despite that, it was a positive performance. Chicago never really put Orlando under any considerable amount of pressure, but the Lions defended well. They were well organised and difficult to break down. In an attacking sense, Orlando moved the ball around well with Kara, Alexandre Pato, Mauricio Pereyra and Facundo Torres linking up particularly well. There seemed to be a greater connect between all 3 areas of the pitch, which was something I highlighted in the defeat to LAFC.
A greater connect across the pitch
There just seemed to be a greater understanding and chemistry all across the pitch, particularly with their passing game. This was certainly reflected in the stats (figure 1); an 89% pass completion rate from 508 passes is indicative of a team that was making their passes stick.
The team's movement off the ball was definitely the overarching factor in this win, particularly from the likes of Alexandre Pato, Facundo Torres and Mauricio Pereyra who were great at finding little pockets of space between the lines (figures 2 & 3). This meant that the Lions were able to actually take up the role of protagonists. We've often spoke of being the protagonists under Oscar Pareja, but we haven't always delivered on it. We did here.
The team's excellent movement and passing meant they were able to pull the Chicago defence apart. If you look at the clip in figure 4, you'll see what I mean. The ball is clipped to the back post, where Pato is able to control the ball and win a free-kick. He pulls a defender out and creates space in the inside half space. Orlando don't utilise that half space on this occasion, but they're able to win a free-kick in a good area. They did this a lot. The forward movement really was excellent, whereas sometimes, our forward movement can be a little narrow and congested. We used the space well, particularly in wide areas.
Orlando ended with an XG of 3.45 and played well over half (302) of their passes in the Chicago half, which lends into the idea that their passing and movement was key to creating chances. They just didn't take enough of them. But that's a story for another day.
Figure 1 shows a summary of the game stats.
Figure 2 shows a game still from early in the game.
Figure 3 is a game still from early in the game.
Figure 4 is a clip showing a second half attack from Orlando.
Chemistry building in the front
We've touched on it already, but the movement up top was superb. The forwards covered so much ground in dangerous areas; Kara, Pato, Pereyra and Torres had a whopping 241 touches between them (figure 5). The goal is a perfect example; an excellent floated cross from Torres, great movement and header from Pato and a striker's finish from Kara. All 4 had impressive stats:
-Kara: 1 key pass, 1 goal and an XG of 1.88 (he gets into some great areas).
-Pato: 4 key passes, 1 assist, 3 chances created and an XG of 0.81.
-Pereyra: 6 key passes, 1 big chance created and an XA of 0.80.
-Torres: 2 shots, 1 key pass and 2 drawn fouls. Also, 1 MLS assist...
Stats aside, they simply just passed the eye test. They were a joy to watch at times, lots of one touch passing and movement. They deserved a few more goals.
Figure 5 shows the heatmap for Kara, Pato, Pereyra and Torres, whole 90.
If we're being brutally honest, it should have been a two goal game for the erstwhile Rapid Vienna forward... But yeah, we don't talk about... That's stuck in your head now isn't it? Good. In all seriousness he led the line well. Good strikers are alert, they're predatory. When the chance came, he took it and we won the game. That's why he gets this week's top player nomination.
Gallese -7- Solid but wasn't particularly stretched.
Ruan -7- Much more solid defensively.
Jansson -7- Won everything at the back and distributed the ball well.
Schlegel -7- Filled in well for Antonio Carlos.
Moutinho -7- Provided a good outlet on the left.
Mendez -8- Crucial performance, defended the back 4 well.
Araujo -7- Another solid performance from the Uruguayan.
Pereyra -8- One of his better performances this season, seems to be orchestrating the team well.
Torres -8- Looked like he was going to create every time he got the ball.
Pato -8- Just class.
Kara -8- All round hold up play was positive and he finally got his goal.
Urso -7- Provided a bit more attacking emphasis after the red card.
Smith -7- Helped to shore things up at the end.
Akindele -7- Seemed to link up well with Pato when he came in.
Michel -7- Provided some fresh legs.
Michel -7- Better than Portland.
Head Coach Oscar Pareja: “Good day to walk out with three points in a game where the red card changed a lot for the rival. We may think that winning just 1-0 wasn’t enough, but I said to the players that we can choose between being negative about the things that didn’t go the way we wanted or enjoy the victory. It was a necessary [victory] for the team, a well played game that wasn’t easy and that we created a ton of chances. I know we’ll have that feeling that we need to be more precise, but we’re good. I’m pleased, the players had a terrific effort today and they walk out with three points that were very necessary.”
*All statistics courtesy of fotmob.com
Cover image and top player image courtesy of Orlando City SC.