Analysis: Inter Miami (a). Unbeaten streak snapped as Lions stumble in in the bleachers.
In the immediate aftermath of the game, Tesho Akindele referred to this game as a 'wake-up' call. In many respects, he's probably right. As Diego Alonso and his team sprinted around the field, as though they had just won MLS Cup, Orlando will have been digesting the bitter taste of defeat. I call for pragmatism though; chiefly among the supporter base. The defeat was certainly disappointing, but there's no need for panic just yet. Social media seemed to go into overdrive. Panic was the operative word as I perused both Facebook and Twitter, immediately after the final whistle. The sort of panic one, presumably feels, when trapped in a ranchor pit. Sometimes you need to encounter death to truly fear it. Only through the calmness of your own demise, can you truly achieve clairvoyance enough to spot the conveniently placed rock that will ultimately become your saviour. No, I haven't lost the plot. And if you don't understand that particular reference, see yourself out. You have no place in a cultured society. My point is this; once you drink from the bitter cup of defeat, you become all the keener to avoid it. The greatest teacher, failure is. I like to call it the Marmite effect. You don't love it or hate it; you taste it and then want to avoid it at all costs from then on.
It's been an ongoing concern for a little while now, particularly late in games. Orlando City have conceded a total of 5 goals in the last 10 minutes of games this season, across all competitions. That's 25% of their 20 conceded. It's a 6-point overall differential, so not insignificant by any means. Not necessarily a crisis either, though it does need to be addressed. It seems to be a concentration issue, particularly when defending late-on. That being said, Orlando's defensive improvement has been monumental this season. Even when defending crosses. If you look at this game, of 31 Fort Lauderdale crosses, 7 resulted in aerial duels (figure 1). Orlando won 6 of them. I bet you can't guess which one they didn't win...
Figure 1 shows that Oscar Pareja's team won 6 of their 7 aerial duels in the box, but lost the most crucial one.
Playing out from the back
Oftentimes teams who play out from the back can often play themselves into trouble. Whilst that did happen, to a certain extent in this game, both Antonio Carlos and Robin Jansson have been able to distribute the ball with tremendous aplomb, recently. Antonio Carlos had a particularly impressive game in Fort Lauderdale. Not just in terms of his impressive passing statistics either (figure 2). The big Brazilian completed 2 interceptions, 9 clearances and 2 blocks (figure 3). It was his contributions when playing out of the back, that were arguably most impressive, however. The former Palmeiras defender played 1 key pass (the assist for Dike) and had an overall pass completion rate of 83.3% from 42 attempted passes (figure 2). He also attempted 10 long balls, with 8 of them finding their target. Whilst no-one wants to see consistent use of the long ball, it's important to have that extra string to your bow. Particularly, when your midfield isn't as effective. More on that later, though. Both Carlos and Jansson have become integral to how Orlando negotiate a high press, particularly in recent weeks.
Figure 2 shows the passing statistics for Orlando's defenders, a key facet of their ability to build attacks from the back.
Jansson was desperately unlucky with the own goal. Despite the OG, he played an equally integral role in playing through Fort Lauderdale's press. The Swede completed 90.2% of his 41 passes, with 2 of his 5 long passes hitting their man. You'll notice, from the passing network graphic in figure 4, that both Carlos and Jansson were able to use their impressive range of passing to play through Fort Lauderdale's press, and to get the Lions on the front foot. They are both just as capable going long as they are playing it short. Given time, they will both only get better.
Figure 3 shows their overall defensive statistics.
Figure 4 shows Orlando's passing network from this game. Note how much both Carlos and Jansson play the ball into forward areas.
A trademark of Oscar Pareja's team this year, has arguably been their combative style of play in the middle of the park. Teams have to earn the right to play against this Orlando City team. The midfield is the engine room of this team. I've already highlighted how much they like to play out from the back; the midfield is key to this approach. They were uncharacteristically overrun in this game, however. They also gave up possession with alarming frequency, which allowed Fort Lauderdale to control proceedings. Which, they pretty much did from the 20th minute on. There were 10 dispossessions and 6 Fort Lauderdale interceptions in the middle and offensive thirds of the pitch (figure 5). Which is why, I believe, Orlando resulted to bypassing the midfield with increased regularity.
There seemed to bean unordinary malaise in City's midfield. I don't think it's anything to be overly concerned about, I hasten to add. Junior Urso and Andres Perea have played a lot of football lately, and Sebas Mendez probably isn't fully match sharp following on from his isolation. Just a point of note for this game, rather than an on-going concern. Uri Rosell and Mauricio Pereyra are nearing fitness, which will provide them team with a massive boost.
Figure 5 shows an alarming number of dispossessions in Orlando's midfield.
It was a toss-up between the rookie and Carlos, for top player this week. Dike just about nicked it, though. Another mature performance from the striker. He continues to improve week-on-week. He didn't have a whole lot of service in this game, but was still able to impact the game in a meaningful way. He outmuscled the defender, and made damn sure he was getting on to the end of Antonio Carlos's raking ball from the back. He then finished with all the finesse of an experienced pro. He ran the line well, and never gave the defenders a minute's peace, even if he was completely isolated at times.
Dike continued his own personal battle with LGP, a battle he seemed to win overall. You might say LGP came out on top overall, but this would be folly. Dike's isolation was more to do with his teammates and their lack of service. The former Atlanta man seemed to have the last laugh, though. Dike registered 2 shots, with 1 on target. He also played 1 key pass, and had an overall pass completion rate of 62.5% from 8 passes and 22 touches. Those last 2 statistics highlight just how starved he was of tangible service. Not the ideal conditions for any young striker, but he was still able to impact the game in a very real way, on a day where many of his teammates were unable to do the same.
Gallese -7- One or two hairy moments, but made a few vital saves.
Ruan -7- Always an outlet, but struggled to make an impression.
Carlos -7- A few vital interventions. Will be devastated to lose this game. Incredible pass for the goal.
Jansson -6- Desperately unlucky with the OG, made a few great blocks and tackles.
Smith -7- Solid and dependable. Didn't do a whole lot wrong.
Perea -6- Struggled in this game, turned the ball over a number of times. He's a good player, though. And this experience will help him.
Mendez -6- Was well below par, but he's only just coming off a quarantine period. Bound to have impacted him.
Urso -6- Questionable decision making at times, but was full of running.
Nani -6- El Capitão is sometimes guilty of overdoing things. There was a moment where he tried to lay the ball off for Urso, in the second half, where a shot would've been more prudent. Not his game.
Mueller -6- Tracked back well, but had a fairly quiet game offensively. Dispossessed on a few occasions.
Dike -7- Played off of scraps for most of the game, but took his goal very well.
Aiás -6- Came in too late to have an impact.
Michel -6- Golden chance to win it late. Will be very upset with the attempt. We shouldn't hound the guy, though. These things happen.
Akindele -7- Actually had some good moments, played some intelligent passes.
DeZart -6- Provided some fresh legs in midfield.