At this stage of the season, and with the way Orlando City's season has gone so far, winning games is all that matters right now.
Whilst this was far from a poor performance, Orlando indeed looked very good for the most part, it wasn't a polished 90 minute display. The foul from Kyle Smith for the penalty was certainly a blotch on the copy book, and allowed the Fire back into a game they were starting to get a bit of momentum in anyway.
But the Lions got the job done in the end. And, truthfully, aside from the concession there was plenty to be pleased about...
A brace for Facundo Torres
It looks like El Cuervo is getting back to something similar to his best form; which can only be good news for Orlando City. The young Uruguayan has moved to 7 goals and 2 assists on the season through 17 appearances.
He looked a lot more confident last night. His performance was bombad (obligatory Star Wars reference... Now you're thinking about Jar-Jar right? Not even sorry). He drifted between the lines well, his movement was excellent overall (figure 1).
Chicago never really got a handle on him. He was ultimately the main difference between the two teams, as his numbers will attest too: an XG of 1.07, an XGOT of 1.73, 2 successful dribbles, an 86% pass success rate, 6 shots, 2 goals and 2 chances created.
If Facu is indeed getting back to his best, it honestly couldn't have come at a better time.
Figure 1 shows Facu's heatmap, whole 90.
Better control in midfield
At times, so far this season, we haven't looked after the ball well enough. Particularly in central areas; we rank 11th in terms of overall possession and 18th for pass success rates. It's not been good enough, overall.
There was a big improvement there, vs Chicago, however. Only D.C. United, Sporting Kansas City and L.A. Galaxy boasted a higher pass success rate on the match day, according to Fotmob. Wilder Cartagena, again, was a huge part of that completing 37 of his 43 passes, many of which were progressive; 9 total into the final third. He also just got up and down the pitch extremely well, threading passes in key areas to get the chains moving (figure 2).
The Lions just did a better job of looking after the ball overall, which allowed the likes of Torres and Ivan Angulo to flourish in the final third. There were 13 key passes (passes leading to an opportunity to a scoring or shooting action), compared the Chicago's 5 (figure 3).
Overall it was just a good evening. And one that I'm not even gonna let PRO renege on, after they got things right the other week.
Figure 2 shows Wilder Cartagena's pass positioning matrix, whole 90.
Figure 3 shows Orlando's key pass positioning matrix (right) in comparison to Chicago's (left).
El Cuervo is on his way back everybody. Rejoice. Whilst Inter Fort Lauderdale bask in the glory of Messi, we shall worship at the feet of Torres. Top much? Fair. But, you catch my drift. He might not be Messi, but he's bloody good when he wants to be, right? He even scored a header. Ruddy, marvelous.
A fit and firing Facundo Torres can only ever be a good thing for Orlando City. Welcome back, Facu.
Gallese -7- Couple of blinding saves.
Smith -7- Excellent cross for Facu's first.
Schegel -7- Did OK deputising for Antonio Carlos.
Jansson -7- Distributed the ball well.
Santos -8- I really like him at left-back.
Cartagena -8- Does a lot of the unseen stuff well.
Pereyra -7- Quiet game, by his standards.
Angulo -8- Full of running.
Ojeda -7- Seemed to enjoy linking up with Facu.
Torres -9- Ran the show.
McGuire -6- Not his night.
Felipe -7- Unlucky not to get one mate.
Enrique -8- Was so clever for his goal, to leave the ball for Angulo. Great awareness.
Petrasso -6- Almost got an assist.
Loyola -6- Good to see him get a chance.
Þórhallsson -6- Provided fresh energy.
Orlando City head coach Oscar Pareja
"Very good game in front of our fans. That is the most important note of the night, obviously the three points, but doing it in front of our fans means a lot for the group. The boys expressed themselves very well in the first 25-30 minutes. I wish we had scored a couple of goals, but we maintained our concentration and we were patient with the game, controlling it, creating sequences, creating options to score. We were patient, the goals came, the reaction from Chicago in a spell of about 15 minutes was hard and then the other goals came. We’re good, we’re pleased, I think the team is playing much better. We’re scoring goals, a lot of positive things. Those three points will give us a lot of confidence too and we’re happy for our fans.”
Top player image and cover image courtesy of Orlando City SC.
Media availability and b-roll footage courtesy of Orlando City SC.