Florida is purple. It is, was and will forever remain purple. Whatever the Fort Lauderdale faithful do, whatever they say... They will always be in our shadow. Even when we are far from our best, in trying circumstances, we always come out on top.
This game was delayed for over two hours, even to the point where I had to give up and call it a night. Thankfully that meant I was able to watch the game back with more clarity. There was a 2 hour delay, and the game played like there had been a 2 hour delay. It wasn't pretty, and certainly won't go down as a classic on the history of this rivalry. At least in terms of the soccer, but who really cares about that?
You know what, though? Who cares? Orlando City won and Florida remains purple. That's all that matters here.
Orlando were resilient
My tactical analysis probably isn't going to be as in depth as it usually is. I think it's difficult to be too critical after such a significant weather delay. A delay of over 2 hours is hugely impactful in sports. The players will have prepared for a 8 p.m. kick off. They'll have warmed up and prepared throughout the day to play at that time. When you're playing till midnight, there are a whole host of external factors that come into play, tiredness and mental readiness being the two main ones.
And I don't mean tiredness as in, they could do with being rested a few days. I mean tiredness in the sense of being sleepy. It was gone 10 p.m. by the time the game started. And whilst I'll concede the players are all young men, and dealt with it fine, the point still stands. Physical tiredness could mean a drop off of even a couple percent, which can impact play. It was certainly a tired looking game. The highlights video below sums it up perfectly. Most of the clips are just nearly moments. There were very few moments of real quality through the game. And that's without even mentioning the soggy pitch. Pitches that have absorbed a lot of rain in a short period are never conducive to quality play.
That's when you have to dig deep and keep plugging away, which is exactly what Orlando did. It wasn't pretty. It was the Book of Boba Fett of MLS, a bit ugly but ended reasonably well. Reasonably. Come on, it had Card Bane it wasn't that terrible. Orlando fought till the end, and eventually dug out an incredibly important victory against a difficult opponent. Just like Fett.
Orlando were more solid defensively
I know Fort Lauderdale weren't great going forward, and in the interest of full disclosure, as I've already alluded to, it was never going to be a great game. Still, Orlando had a job to do defensively and they did it well. The shape of the team, defensively, was much better than it has been in recent weeks (figures 1 & 2).
Orlando didn't allow Fort Lauderdale to settle on the ball and they remained disciplined defensively. All of this contributed to the game being very 'bitty'. Orlando had the Lions share of the ball, playing 491 passes to Miami's 397, with a higher pass success rate of 87%. This meant less pressure on the defence because Orlando weren't giving away silly turnovers. Orlando also did a good job of winning their individual battles; 52 duels won, and 44 ground duels was quite a bit better than Fort Lauderdale's record despite them having less of the ball (figure 3).
Orlando never allowed the visitors to settle, which was a refreshing change.
Figure 1 is a game still from the first half.
Figure 2 is a game still from the first half.
Figure 3 shows some of Orlando's (left) duelling statistics.
This was exactly the sort of game the tenacious Uruguayan midfielder revels in. It was less of a soccer match and more of a battle. There aren't too many midfielders like him in the game anymore; big brutes who love a challenge. He can play a bit too, but this was a game for his combative side. Araujo won 5 tackles, 7 recoveries and 1 interception. He also won a whopping 17 ground duels, losing only 4.
Gallese -7- Aside from a smart first half save, didn't have much to do. But what he did have to do, he did well.
Ruan -7- Drastically improved performance defensively.
Schlegel -7- Dealt with what little threat Fort Lauderdale posed well.
Jansson -7- Distributed the ball well and was much better positionally.
Smith -7- Was much better defensively.
Araujo -8- Best player on the park.
Urso -6- Solid enough, passed the ball well.
Pereyra -7- Thank god he's fit.
Torres -7- Not his greatest game, but he was industrious as ever and tried to make things happen.
Michel -6- Had the chance of the game and should score. Didn't do much else.
Kara -6- Starved of service in a low quality game.
Mulraney -7- Credit where it's due. He put the ball into a good area for the goal.
Pato -6- Injected energy but little else.
Akindele -6- Horribly miscued a shot that looked easier than it probably was.
Halliday -6- Good to get some minutes into him.
Head Coach Oscar Pareja:
“Very intense game as you all saw. I have to recognize first the energy from our fans, waiting a couple hours and staying in the rain and waiting for the team and keeping that same energy the whole game. I thought we enjoyed that victory a lot, not just because of the three points but because it is a derby. I know the fans will enjoy it and recognize it. For the boys, I thought today was not an easy game after our last game and they bounced back. We know we have a lot of things to work [on], but today we deserved those three points and we will take it. Very proud.”
*All statistics courtesy of fotmob.com
Top player image and cover image courtesy of Orlando City SC.
Media availability footage courtesy of Orlando City SC.