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  • Writer's pictureDan Berridge

Analysis: Colorado Rapids (h). Routine Win For The Lions.

This was always a game that had the potential to be something of a disaster-class for Orlando City. A home game against one of the worst teams in MLS, a weather delay.... Weather delay's are heart breaking for us UK fans. I tried my best to persevere, but ultimately fell asleep.


Luckily Orlando City did not. This was a game that the Lions controlled from start to finish. The only gripe supporters could have was that they should have had more than the two goals they scored. Still, another Facundo Torres goal and a first for Ramiro Enrique were enough to seal a valuable win for Oscar Pareja's side.


Orlando are starting to build a bit of momentum going into what is, traditionally, a difficult summer period for Orlando City SC. A tricky game on the road against Bruce Arena's New England Revolution is next, but you wouldn't be surprised to see the best away side in the league take points from Foxborough. Such a result should leave Orlando nicely poised for an assault on the home play-off positions during the second half of the season.



Rafael Santos


Particularly at the start of the season, there was a lot of trepidation around Rafael Santos among the Orlando City fanbase. Most of it was unfounded. The Brazilian former Cruizero man just needed time to bed into his new surroundings. He's done that now and seems to have made the left-back slot his own.



He adds a lot to the attack. His crossing was particularly impressive, with a number of devilish balls whipped across the face of the Rapids goal. You look at the stats, and he has a crossing success rate of 23% but that can be misleading. So many of his crosses should have been met by a purple head, but weren't. They go down as an unsuccessful cross. A prime example came in the first half (figure 1). It was crying out to be headed home. There were several crosses like that, not least this ball in the second half (figure 2). Criminal that this wasn't tucked away by either Ercan Kara or Tincho Ojeda.


Defensively speaking, he was very solid as well, his positioning was very good (figure 3). He also defended well in one-to-one situations, winning 4/5 duels. It's hard to imagine he loses his place anytime soon. Excellent performance.


Figure 1 is a clip from the first half.


Figure 2 is a clip from the second half.


Figure 3 is a game still from the first half.


Oscar's second half subs


Pareja has often been accused of... Being conservative let's say. Playing it safe and it not really working, like a JJ Abrams Star Wars movie. 'Somehow, the other team scored'. But he was aggressive in this instance. With Colorado down to 10 men at the half, he subbed in Ojeda for Wilder Cartagena, which allowed Orlando to get on the front foot against a team that was only ever going to bunker in. Bringing in Rodrigo Schlegel for the booked Antonio Carlos was also smart. Even as Colorado went down to 9 men, Pareja continued to be positive with his changes, with Ramiro Enrique coming on for Kyle Smith. The Argentine striker repaid that faith with his first goal for the club.



This perceived lack of ambition was the cusp of the issue for many of the, Twitter-dubbed, 'Papi Out' crowd. I was an advocate for change not so long ago, but the likeable Colombian has earned a stay of execution. The team are playing more aggressively and are actively trying to win games. There are tentative signs of improvement. The upcoming run of fixtures heading into the Leagues Cup are going to be absolutely crucial, both for Pareja's future and Orlando City's season.


Facundo Torres is getting back to his best


The formerPeñarol flyer was coveting the interest of Premier League giants Arsenal not that long ago. He fell off a cliff amidst a poor start to the season, however he's getting back to something like his best form. At least if the last 2 games are anything to go by. His goal and assist in this match made it 4 goal contributions in the last 2 games, as he moved to 5 goals and 2 assists on the season. His movement was excellent in this game (see his heatmap in figure 4). His return to form can perhaps be attributed, at least in part, to the performances of Smith at right-back.


The Ohio native has been in solid form defensively speaking; he won 3/4 tackles and 4/9 duels. He generally held his position well (figure 5). This means there's less defensive pressure on Torres, so he has freedom to drift inside and make things happen. That's no slight on Michael Halliday, but the young American likes to get forward more than Smith. Smith also has the quality to add to the attack versus a low-block, as we have seen in recent weeks. He's playing well, and that can only be good for Facu.


Figure 4 shows Torres' heatmap, whole 90.


Figure 5 shows Smith's heatmap, whole 90.


Top player


Facundo Torres



The Uruguayan had 4 shots, created 2 chances and registered a goal and an assist. He had an XG of 0.32, which is more reflective of the wicked deflection he benefitted from for the goal. But, you have to earn your luck in this league. He deserved the goal for his overall performance. Fans will be helping this is the beginning of his return to an extended period of good form.



Player ratings


Starting XI


Gallese -6- Nothing to do.


Santos -8- Very encouraging performance.

Jansson -7- Assured performance.

Antonio Carlos -7- Played well until he was subbed.

Smith -8- Defended well and also supported the attack.


Cartagena -8- Unlucky to be subbed, he was playing well, but it made tactical sense.

Araujo -8- Recycled possession well.


Torres -8- Very positive performance.

Pereyra -7- Made things tick.

Angulo -8- Constant threat.


Kara -6- Can't complain about a lack of service. Just not his day.


Substitutes


Enrique -8- Took his goal well.

Alejandro Granadas -7- Good to see the highly rated youngster come on.

Felipe -7- Helped to see the game out.

Ojeda -7- Livened up the attack.

Schlegel -7- Held the line well.


Reaction


Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja


“We are very pleased and excited to get three points in front of our fans. It was certainly something on our mind today, winning at home and getting that confidence back. It is not an easy job. Today was very necessary to get this win and have this performance. We know what happened out on the field and what matters is that we had a very good first half. The second half we could have been more aggressive, but the boys were cautious about just closing the game. This is something that we carry on our shoulders, and I understand that. We needed to win today. We are happy. We are having better performances and that is what we are aiming for.”




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

Top player image and cover image courtesy of Orlando City SC.

Media availability footage and b-roll footage courtesy of Orlando City SC.

Game stills and game footage courtesy of Apple TV/MLS.



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