Analysis: FC Cincinnati (a). Another Pareja tactical gambit backfires, Orlando drop points in Ohio.
Why? Why are we having this conversation again? Another road game, another scenario where Oscar Pareja's heavy rotation has led to points being dropped. This now makes 16 points dropped against teams below the line. That's not good enough, and if has to be addressed. The starting line-up was, again, heavily rotated, and in the wrong areas. There were 5 changes from the team that started against Fort Lauderdale; albeit 1 was enforced. Orlando City should not be starting a game in Cincinnati with Nani, Perea, Ruan and Van Der Water sat on the bench. Especially when there's another 11 days until our next MLS game.
So, resting or managing minutes is a wafer thin excuse. Especially when 3 of the 4 aforementioned players ended up coming off the bench and playing at least 40 minutes anyway. VDW inexplicably remained on the bench. You start them, and you get the game won. Then you can rest them all you like. The gamble, again, failed to pay off. We almost lost the game too, it was only Mason Stajduhar's alertness that prevented FC Cincinnati winning it late.
The game against Santos Laguna would be an ideal opportunity to rotate. Depending on results later on Sunday (this was written on Sunday morning), we could be tasked with an even tougher task to overhaul New England at the summit of both the eastern conference and the Supporters Shield standings.
The performance of Emmanuel Más
I actually felt the performance of the erstwhile Boca Juniors player was positive. I was surprised to see him hauled off when he was, particularly as he seemed to be adding a dimension to Orlando's attacks. He was getting forward well, on the overlap, as well as cutting inside. He actually, believe it or not, led the team in shots with 3 - 2 of which were on target. He had 44 touches, 1 key pass and a 79.2 pass completion rate from 24 attempts. There were a couple of enticing crosses thrown into the box by the Argentine; the most notable of which fell to Kyle Smith, who was only able to slice his effort over the bar. Defensively, he was also excellent, making 6 interceptions, 1 tackle and 2 clearances.
Despite all of that, it was his energy and movement that impressed me the most. If you look at his heatmap in figure 1, you'll see exactly what I mean. He got up and down the field well, and would've provided an excellent outlet for Nani. He didn't link up with Michel too much (figure 2). And nor did Benji connect with anyone a whole lot; more on that in the next subsection.
Based on this evidence, and from what I've seen of Más lately, it seems like he's acclimating well to the particular nuances and rigours of MLS. Could we have a new, first-choice, left-back?
Figure 1 shows Emmanuel Más' heatmap, whole 90.
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Benji Michel is a striker
I've said it before, and I'll say it again; Benji Michel is a striker. He's just not effective enough as an outside forward, I'm sorry but he's not. He doesn't have the close ball control, or dribbling capabilities to operate in that position on a consistent basis. What he does have, however, is pace and ability in front of goal.
In 2020, from 8 starts and 13 substitute appearances (many as a winger), he had 16 shots, 10 on target and 5 goals. That's a whopping 31.25% conversion rate. He also has excellent awareness in the penalty area. If you look at the game still in figure 3, he doesn't attack the space at the near post from Más' cross. This is because of his positioning. He begins the move in an inverted left-wing position. If he starts as a striker, he cuts across the 6-yard area and taps that in. He would be starting from Tesho's position, so it would be easier for him to ghost in undetected. No slight on Tesho, but Benji has greater visual acuity in front of goal, case and point; his goal against LAFC in 2019 (figure 4).
Figure 3 shows a game still showing Benji's positioning for one of Más' crosses.
Figure 4 shows a game still of Benji's goal against LAFC in September 2019. Look how he attacks the space from a striker's position.
The Silvester Van Der Water anomaly
I just can't fathom it. Why VDW sat on the bench, for the entire game, as we laboured to a draw against one of the worst teams in the league is beyond me. No disrespect to FC Cincinnati and their fans, wonderful turnout and stadium by the way, but we should be putting them to bed and tucking them in. Before reading them a good night story.
I've seen people express concerns about VDW's defensive work-rate. That's not a concern for me. He's a winger. How much defensive work do we need him to do against Cincinnati? From only 410 minutes this season he has 2 goals and 2 assists, with a conversion rate of 16.7% from 12 attempts at goal. He has 10 key passes and 4 successful crosses. Are you seriously telling me he wouldn't have had more of an impact than Joey DeZart coming in?
The Argentine was the best player on the park, as far as Orlando City are concerned. He scored a rating of 7.3/10 on whoscored.com, 0.4 clear of the nearest player (Rodrigo Schlegel). He displayed excellent ball control and a willingness to get forward. On the evidence of this game he could establish himself as our first-choice left-back. He has big game experience, and has the mentality to help guide this team through the post-season. Playing for Boca Juniors at La Bombonera will give that to you. He has a great chance of making that position his own, in my opinion.
Stajduhar -7- Didn't have much to do, but saved a point late in the game.
Smith -6- Reasonably solid defensively.
Schlegel -6- Had a decent game, and his positioning was good.
Jansson -7- Goal saving challenge in Cruz was exceptional.
Más -7- Orlando's best player.
Rosell -6- Doesn't seem to have the energy to combat high intensity teams.
Urso -6- Didn't do much to be honest.
Michel -5- Not a winger.
Pereyra -6- Genuinely don't know what's happening to him.
Mueller -6- Tried hard, but similar to Pereyra, is way off his best.
Akindele -5- Got barely any service.
Nani -7- Great goal. Why didn't he start?
Ruan -7- Again, why didn't he start?
Perea -7- Why didn't he start?
DeZart -6- Nothing against him, he did OK but why did he come in?
Van Der Water - WHY!!!
NB As with the week's earlier posts, this article will look different to it's usual format. Technical issues with Wix mean I can't use any embeds, certain fonts and a few other bits and pieces. Hopefully it will be sorted soon.
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