Analysis: DC United (a). All Too Familiar Tale As Orlando City Drop Points On The Road.
You know when you can just see what's going to happen, and then it happens? Like a badly written TV show? You often see it with re-hashes and re-makes. Sometimes you have to make subtle changes to the story, to keep the audience engaged. Just like the writers of HBO's masterpiece The Last Of Us, have done. It's not predictable or samey at all, but is inherently the same story.
Well, whoever is writing Orlando City's 2023 story doesn't seem to have made any changes at all from the 2022 version, at least in terms of the way we approach games away from home.
It's very much a case of 'same old, same old'. Orlando will take a 1-0 lead, not bother to try and add to it, bunker down and play for a 'Papi special'. We eventually cave and the opposition score. Sometimes more than once. Thankfully, DC only managed the one. They could, and probably should, have had more, but for another fine display from El Pulpo they would have done.
Orlando's away day woes
Orlando were definitely struggling to get things going in the final third, which seemed like a chemistry issue to me, rather than a conscious decision to retreat. Until about 20-25 minutes from the end of the game that is. Then the Lions just withdrew... Over the course of the game, Orlando made 41 clearances to DC's 11, which is indicative of the amount of defending Oscar Pareja's team were doing. They made 22 of those clearances after the 65th minute (figure 1). DC? 2 between 65 and 95.
Figure 1 shows Orlando's clearance positioning matrix from the 65th minute onwards.
They have to find a way to be more ambitious on the road. Only 3 times have Orlando won by more than a goal, on the road, under Oscar Pareja. The Lions dropped 14 points from winning positions on the road last season. Only DC, Charlotte and Fort Lauderdale scored less away from home in 2022, we had a GD of -7 on the road. The teams we supposedly want to emulate performed much better, such as the Philadelphia Union who had a +6 GD and 5 more points on the road. CF Montréal were +4 and won 35 points to our 21 away from home.
We have to find a way to become more attacking and ruthless on the road; we scored the only big chance we had, and scored an XG of 0.67. Hoping to knick a 1-0 win, and relying on your 'keeper to have a Stormer, every away game, is not a sustainable plan of action.
I want to spend a bit of time talking about Duncan McGuire. This was the first time we had seen him in competitive action and the first time I had seen him play at all.
I was very impressed.
He didn't have a whole lot to work with, which is reflected in his meagre touch statistics of 36. But what he did do well, is hold the ball up. He moved well, he used the ball intelligently. He reminded me, and I hesitate to draw too many comparisons, of Daryl Dike. He was mobile, constantly showing for the ball, getting the ball in good areas, laying it off for his teammates. His heatmap and overall touch positioning matrix (figures 2 and 3) are indicative of how well he got about the pitch.
Figure 2 is Duncan McGuire's heatmap, whole 90.
Figure 3 is Duncan McGuire's touch map, whole 90.
His performance was very mature and very confident. The broadcast showed a clip of him talking and gesticulating with Tinchy Ojeda, just before the restart. He's no shrinking violet and is clearly happy to either pull his teammates up or let them know what he needs. I like that in a player so young.
I realise circumstances will have dictated his debut somewhat, with the need for rotation etc. But, when you consider that it took Pareja 10 games to hand Dike his debut and McGuire only 4, you get a flavour of just how highly they rate the kid.
As I've already pointed out, his movement and hold up play was excellent. Look at the clips in figures 4 and 5. Ultimately both passages of play are for nought, but he moves well and uses the ball calmly and intelligently.
Oh, and the guy bought back the Nani flip. So, there's that.
Figure 4 is a clip from the first half.
Figure 5 is a clip from the first half.
Scoring a goal on your pro debut is the stuff dreams are made of. Creighton alum McGuire acquitted himself very well and will have done his chances of challenging Ercan Kara and Ramiro Enrique for the starting spot absolutely no harm at all with this performance.
Gallese -7- Made some incredible stops.
Schlegel -7- Was reasonably solid.
Smith -7- Dependable going from a back 3 to a 4.
Salim -7- One or two nervy moments, but played well overall.
Santos -7- Didn't do too much wrong.
Angulo -7- Did OK, but didn't manage to get forward much.
Pereyra -6- Looked off the pace.
Cartagena -7- Steady.
Þórhallsson -7- Another good performance.
Torres -6- Well off it.
McGuire -7- Gotta be pleased with himself.
Halliday -6- Came in very late.
Jansson -6- Tried to provide more balance, but it didn't pay off.
Ojeda -6- Largely anonymous.
Gonzalez -6- Couldn't get into the game at all.
Araujo -6- Not much of an impact.
Head Coach Oscar Pareja:
“We did expect the game in the second half to have more volume and more action in front of the net. We knew the defense from the first half would reveal some possibilities because we played with one more defender and one less attacker, but we wanted to have solidness. We wanted to see if we could create more sequences around, in the flanks. I think we did with maybe not as much consistency. In the second half when we made the change of the model and we made the change of the personnel, we knew that this was going to surprise D.C. When that happened, I thought we looked much better. I think we had a couple more actions, we scored a goal and we accomplished that objective.”
Cover image courtesy of Orlando City SC.
Top player image courtesy of Creighton University/NCAA.
Game footage courtesy of Apple TV.
Post match media availability and B-Roll footage courtesy of Orlando City SC.