Analysis: Columbus Crew (a). Professional Performance As Orlando Takes The Win.
Orlando City produced a thoroughly professional away performance to emerge victorious in Ohio, and claim their second consecutive win and clean sheet combination. Well taken goals from Rodrigo Schlegel and Ercan Kara earned the Lions a richly deserved victory as they moved to within 2 points of eastern conference leaders Philadelphia Union.
Pedro Gallese was undoubtedly the busier of the 2 goalkeepers on the night, but he wasn't exactly overworked as the Peruvian made 3 saves from Columbus' 17 shots. The hosts' profligate finishing was punished by some devastating shooting from Orlando. The Lions had 3 shots on frame, scoring 2 (for an XG of 1.7).
This was just a good all round road performance from the Lions; they kept things tight at the back, and took their chances when they came. Brilliant stuff.
The standout feature of this performance was undoubtedly the proficient finishing exhibited by Orlando City, which isn't something we've always been able to say about this team. Obviously it was nice to see Godrigo find the back of the net with an early goal, but I want to just take some time to focus on the Kara goal...
This was a goal indicative of a striker playing with supreme confidence. Whilst it is a great team goal, and we have to give kudos to the players involved in the build up play; Facundo Torres in particular, this goal is mainly about Kara (figure 1). He knows exactly where the goal is, swivels and just trusts his instincts. It's not an easy finish by any stretch of the imagination. The move is nice, but the finish is stupendous.
I felt Kara's overall performance was particularly effective; 1 goal, 4 won duels and 2 drawn fouls. He wasn't massively involved in the build up, but he was a good outlet during moments of defensive pressure. He is mobile enough and strong enough to always be available for that out ball (figure 2), even if he isn't utilised. His all round play was just intelligent, you even see it for the first goal, where he lays the ball back for Torres. I genuinely think Kara is the striker we've been waiting on. And I'm here for it.
Figure 1 is a clip showing Ercan Kara's goal.
Figure 2 is Ercan Kara's heatmap, whole 90.
Gracias Facu. What can I say? I don't want to heap too much pressure on the young Uruguayan, but to heck with it. He's given us the X Factor. And, unlike the dated Simon Cowell talent show, he's young and inventive. His underlying statistics from the game attest to his overall performance (figure 3). He was integral to everything positive that the Lions did going forward.
His movement and intricate passing in tight spaces have given Orlando an additional facet to their attack; one they've arguably not possessed since the departure of a certain Brazilian playmaker. Even Nani wasn't as threatening in tight spaces, particularly when receiving the ball on the half turn. His improvised flick for Kara's goal summed his performance up. A goal, by the way, which had shades of Jack Wilshere's famous goal for Arsenal against Norwich City (figure 4).
Figure 3 shows Torres' attacking statistics, whole 90.
Figure 4 shows Jack Wilshere's goal for Arsenal against Norwich City.
Another particularly pleasing aspect of Orlando's display was their defensive set up, particularly their shape. Orlando did a great job of holding a solid line as the play shifted, which allowed them to nullify passing lanes when Columbus were on the attack (figures 5 & 6). This is a sign of not only solid organisation but of chemistry and synergy. Everybody knows their jobs. I'm seeing a real improvement defensively over recent weeks. Hopefully the team has put the FC Cincinnati and LAFC games behind them.
The team's defensive stats also highlight just how well they defended:
- Moutinho: 4 clearances, 3 interceptions and 6 recoveries.
- Jansson: 1 block, 3 clearances and 5 recoveries.
- Schlegel: 2 blocks, 4 clearances, 5 interceptions.
- Smith: 4 clearances, 2 headed clearances, 5 recoveries.
Figure 5 is a game still from the 66th minute.
Figure 6 is a game still from the 66th minute.
The Uruguayan playmaker was key to both goals; his excellent cross to Junior Urso created the first goal, and his improvised flick to Kara gave the Austrian forward the chance to put the game to bed. Outside of the goals, he was energetic all night, drifting between the lines and pulling defenders out of position. You can tell the former Peñarol man is finding his feet in MLS. He's going to be absolutely key if Orlando are to have any success this season.
Gallese -7- Made key saves at important moments, but wasn't overly stretched.
Smith -7- We looked solid down the right hand side.
Schlegel -7- Maiden goal for the club rounded off a solid performance.
Jansson -7- Thor... I mean, Robin Jansson, was his typical thunderous self.
Moutinho -7- Read the game really well, as his 6 recoveries and 3 interceptions will attest to.
Urso -8- Energetic performance and a reflexive assist.
Araujo -8- Recycled possession well.
Torres -9- Is going to tear up this league.
Pereyra -8- Vitally important cog in the middle.
Michel -7- Worked hard and covered Smith well.
Kara -8- Brilliantly taken goal.
Akindele -6- Provided fresh legs for the attack.
Perea -6- Clumsy yellow card, seems to be lacking in confidence.
Williams -6- Good to get the young CB some minutes.
Mendez -6- Helped to see the game out.
Orlando City head coach Oscar Pareja
“Big result, but more important a big performance. I have a lot of respect for this group. The players understand that this is a commitment that we all have to each other. It’s a commitment that we have for a common objective and sometimes it may be difficult, but if we all have that heart and discipline, I think we’re going to get many good results like tonight. We played against a very good team in a very difficult place and gave a fantastic performance where we also saw how they’re collectively growing which made me even more content.”
Cover image and top player image courtesy of Orlando City SC.
B-roll and post match availability footage courtesy of Orlando City SC.
Game stills courtesy of MLSsoccer.com