Orlando City picked up their second consecutive clean sheet in this game and remain undefeated so far in Major League Soccer.
What will be of concern, however, to many of a purple persuasion, is that it represented another lacklustre performance where Pedro Gallese again took home the man of the match award.
Whilst I would, again, re-iterate there is no need to panic, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little concerned. This was another game where the Lions were second best on their home patch (figure 1). Orlando chalked up a paltry XG of 0.29, whilst falling down in every major statistical metric. Cincinnati passed the ball better, created more chances and took far more shots.
People will point to the rotation and say this is a line-up that needs time to gel. I wouldn't necessarily disagree with that. But it'd be foolish in the extreme to not acknowledge the deficiencies in this insepid performance where Orlando never looked like scoring.
Figure 1 shows the overall game statistics.
All that being said, as poor a performance as it was, there were positives to take. Dagur Dan Þórhallsson looked composed. I'm already a big fan of his. He seems like a calming presence and he's useful on the ball. Wilder Cartagena looked good again. There are a few things to feel optimistic about for sure.
One issue I do want to address in the aftermath of this game, is that of Ercan Kara.
The big Austrian striker continues to take a lot of flack in social media. And I'm not sure most of it is warranted. Kara is a system striker. He plays a particular way. He's not particularly mobile or quick. He's not the sort of player who is going to drift wide, cut inside, beat a few men and stick one in the top corner. He's a target striker who will get on the end of crosses and score half chances in the penalty area.
We don't use him in the correct manner. Our system and style of play hasn't changed a whole lot since the days of Daryl Dike. Kara is not Dike. Never has been, never will be. So, I don't understand how some can be so mad at him. For me, that frustration is misplaced. But that's a story for another day. He had 17 touches of the ball and absolutely zero service.
After all, would you buy an opee sea killer and be mad at it for not being able to climb a tree like a Kowakian Monkey Lizard? Sorry, I'm going to Star Wars Celebration soon, so my trademark unnecessary Star Wars references aren't going anywhere, anytime soon.
All that being said, I don't think he helps himself at times. Although, I do wonder if that's a confidence thing with him. For example, look at the clip in figure 2. Robin Jansson sprays a ball out Michael Halliday, Kara runs into the centre but then checks his run. It's almost like he second guesses himself. He needs to carry on the run and get on the end of the ball, which only doesn't come in because Kara checks his run.
Is he the most suitable striker for us right now? Probably not. But does he deserve the abuse he gets online? Nope.
Dagur Dan and Wilder Cartagena
The Icelandic midfielder impressed me with his composure against the Red Bulls last weekend. He was even better in this match, and has the look of a player that could be absolutely crucial for Orlando. He completed 25 of his 29 passes, 2 dribbles and won 5 of his 7 ground duels. He also covered a lot of ground in midfield (figure 3).
He was just a cool, calm and collected presence in the centre of Orlando City's midfield. He's the order amongst all the chaos. OK, maybe that's a little dramatic, but you catch my drift. The erstwhile Breidabik midfielder has made an impressive start to life in Orlando. Hopefully he can build on that.
Figure 3 shows Dagur Dan's heat map.
As for Wilder Cartagena, he was equally impressive in my opinion. The Peruvian maestro completed 45 of his 51 passes, for a success rate of 88%. He looked very good, technically speaking. His close control enabled him to maneuver himself out of some difficult situations and maintain possession at key times for Orlando.
Similarly to Dagur Dan, he also covered a lot of ground, all over the pitch (figure 4). He was picking the ball up from the centre backs and from his full-backs before progressing the ball up the field.
Figure 4 shows Cartagena's pass positioning matrix.
I realise it's an incredibly small sample size, but I felt the Dagur Dan, Cartagena double pivot was reasonably effective.
There were no real stand out candidates to be brutally honest. I decided to go for El Pulpo as his 4 saves kept our clean sheet in tact and this ensured we walked away with a point that we scarcely deserved.
Gallese -8- Key saves to prevent us losing.
Halliday -7- Another solid game for the youngster.
Schlegel -7- Didn't put a foot wrong to be honest.
Salim -7- Can be pleased with his pro debut.
Smith -7- Did a steady job.
Þórhallsson -8- I was impressed.
Cartagena -8- Had a good game, looked after the ball well.
Pereyra -6- Largely anonymous.
Torres -6- Didn't get into the game at all.
Gonzalez -6- Rough debut.
Kara -6- No service.
Jansson -7- Gave us a bit more ability to play out from the back.
Araujo -7- Didn't do too much wrong.
Ojeda -6- Struggled to make an impact.
Angulo -6- Couldn't really get into the game.
Petrasso -6- Gave a little more balance.
Orlando City head coach Oscar Pareja
“Under the circumstances and obviously with the good rival we had in front of us, the guys put in the performance and competed, and we are proud. We are proud and we are happy to get the result. At home we need to win, but this team needs to be balanced with things. When we cannot win it, we just need to get the result and work out with the point. We just have to take it. There were a lot of positive things that we recognized tonight, especially the players that are new with the team and making us better. We are proud. We will get ready now for our travel [to Monterrey for Concacaf Champions League] tomorrow and represent our city and our Club in an international competition on Tuesday.”
All game stills and clips courtesy of MLS and Apple TV.
Player images courtesy of Orlando City SC.
B-roll footage courtesy of Orlando City SC.
Post match media availability footage courtesy of Orlando City SC.