Analysis: Inter Miami CF. Orlando City suffers huge reality check as they go down 3-2.
We have a saying here in England. After the Lord Mayor's show comes the dust-cart. The saying is basically used to describe something less than entertaining, which immediately comes in the wake of a something that was a lot less... Well; s***. It's certainly a phrase that could be leveled at Orlando City's performance in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday evening. We could spend all day speculating on why the team's on-field output was so sub-par, but the fact remains; it simply was not good enough.
During MLS Is Back we all, rightly, marvelled at the transformation of this team. They were hungry, driven and a constant threat during their run to the final. On Saturday, however, the ghosts of Orlando City past were an
eerie and all too prominent presence throughout the game. Unlike for Ebeneezer Scrooge, however, there was no epiphany come the end of the game. No sudden light bulb moment. No path to redemption. Slapdash turnovers, shocking defending. It all felt very 'un-Oscar Pareja'. Maybe travelling that day had an impact? Maybe they took a knock with the Portland defeat? Who knows? It's all conjecture. All we know is that level of performance cannot be seen again come Wednesday evening, when Nashville SC visit Exploria Stadium. It could be a long evening otherwise.
A master class in how not to defend
All 3 goals Fort Lauderdale scored on Saturday evening were avoidable. If you observe figure 1 (and the below highlights reel, if you really hate yourself) you'll see glaring error number 1. Sebas Mendez was solid during much of MLS Is Back, but he commits one of the cardinal sins from the 'being a decent DM in MLS' testament. He overplays the ball in a potential overload situation. He needs to be smarter here, more conservative. He attempts a first-time flick towards Junior Urso, which just goes horribly wrong. Miami breaks and Julian Carranza cracks a low shot into the bottom corner. Pedro Gallese is beaten at his near post, but more on that later...
It's an awful start for the visitors, and one they never really recovered from despite Daryl Dike hurling his team level with a stupendous strike. Again, we'll come to that later. There were a number of turnovers from the boys in purple, particularly during an error strewn first half. The team had an 88% pass completion rate from 588 passes. Which on the face of it is very good, but much of that football was played in front of the home side. So don't be fooled by the statistics. Regular readers of this blog know I love a good start. But they don't tell the whole story here. Orlando's play became all too easy, all too predictable. Which is why we never really threatened outside of the goals and one or two pot shots from distance.
Figure 1 Sebas Mendez tries to be too cute in a dangerous area, and it backfires horrendously.
I also have another issue with this goal. As Rudolfo Pizarro releases Carranza, Antonio Carlos and Robin Jansson are both far too slow in closing out that space (see figure 2). This then allows the Argentine striker to charge towards goal relatively unchecked. I probably seem like I'm being overly critical in my analysis of these goals. I'm purely viewing them in the context of Saturday's game. No one can deny the exponential improvement we have witnessed in this team since the end of last season.
That being said, there were some worrying signs from the game in Fort Lauderdale. Signs that Oscar Pareja and the team will need to address before they return to action on Wednesday evening.
Figure 2 both Carlos and Jansson are caught flat footed by Carranza who was able to stride towards goal largely unchecked.
The second goal is perhaps even more frustrating. There are several layers to this goal. First of all, we are far too slow to charge down the cross when the ball goes wide. Having just hauled ourselves level a few minutes before, Orlando are caught napping. An excellent cross from the left flank finds Carranza with the freedom of the area to send a looping header beyond Gallese and into the back of the net. I'll take nothing away from Carranza. Credit where credit's due after all. It's an excellent header, that he sends looping back across goal and into the corner.
Here is my main issue though. The disgusting amount of space he is given. The forward has time to watch the flight of the ball, and to get the right amount of purchase on the header which gave the hosts a well-deserved lead. Here, the culprit is Robin Jansson; a player who has been excellent so far this season. He gets caught ball watching all the way, and is blissfully unaware of Carranza's run until it's far too late. That ball, as good as it was, should never find its target. It's such a simple, yet costly, error. You'll see in figures 3 & 4, that at the moment the ball is flighted in, Jansson is facing the ball. He has no idea Carranza is behind him.
Some might apportion the blame to Moutinho, but I think that is folly. Moutinho has his man. Jansson doesn't. And we pay the price.
Figure 3 Robin Jansson is caught ball watching as the cross comes over, which means Carranza is able to find the space easily.
Figure 4 Carranza bags his second of the night.
The third goal is the worst of the lot. There were a few expletives thrown around my living room when this went in at around 2 a.m. As an ex-defender this is something that frustrated me so much as a player. Stood on a wet, cold field in middle England and seeing the midfielders in front of me not track their runners... I used to die a little inside. I imagine the sensation is very similar in sunny South Florida. You're just a tad warmer when you feel it. Particularly as these games, you know, mean something. I don't even know who to be mad at, as literally no one is tracking Pizzaro. The ball comes in and the Mexican has the freedom of the Sunshine State to coolly slot the ball home. Ridiculous.
Not such a great night for El Pupo
El Pulpo. The best keeper at MLS Is Back. Sorry, not sorry Andre Blake. He was far from being at his brilliant best in this game, however. As Carranza bears down on goal for the opener Gallese subtly shifts his feet towards the centre of the goal. It's clear that he is attempting to negate the threat of Carranza driving his shot low, across the face of goal. However, in doing so, he opens up a bit too much space at his near post. Which the Fort Lauderdale man finds with aplomb
If i'm being hyper critical, he should do better with the other two goals. In all honesty though, it was upsetting enough recapping the first goal for a second time. So, I'm just going to move on.
Key player - And just because I want to end this review on a positive note, let's talk about the performance of Daryl Dike
The rookie forward was almost certainly the only real bright spot during the defeat in South Florida. The rookie belied his age with an incredibly mature performance, which he was able to cap with his first senior goal. The University of Virginia graduate powers past Leandro Gonzalez Pirez like he isn't there before drawing a smart stop from Luis Robles in the Fort Lauderdale goal. Not to be denied, he quickly jumps off the deck to fire home the loose ball with the aid of a deflection. He showed great perseverance, and took the goal well. Made a nuisance of himself for the second goal too. He uses his strength to hold the ball up, before laying it off for Mueller who finds Nani with a peach of a cross. Whilst he was isolated for long periods, he held up the play well, looked strong, direct and very capable. We must not place too much expectation on his young shoulders, but he's done enough to earn a start against Nashville in my view.
Gallese -6- Didn't look his usual self. Shaky.
Ruan -5- Seemed unusually hesitant to get forward. Poor end product when he did.
Carlos -5- Both he and Jansson were uncharacteristically shaky.
Jansson -5- See above.
Moutinho -6- Didn't do anything particularly wrong. Didn't particularly do anything right either.
Mendez -6- Carelessly gave the ball away for the first goal. Ineffective thereafter.
Rosell -5- Gave the ball away with alarmingly regularly during the first quarter of the game. Struggled with the high press.
Nani -5- Didn't know he was playing until the 80th minute.
Pereyra -5- Sloppy in possession, barely a threat.
Urso -5- The experiment didn't work.
Dike -8- Put himself about well, looked confident and took his goal well.
Mueller -6- Didn't have the desired impact. Still, grabbed an assist.
Michel -6- Looked out of sorts.
Perea -6- Not enough time to impact the game.
Robinho -5- For me, he's not good enough at this level.
Akindele -6- Struggled to make an impact.
All statistics provided courtesy of mlssoccer.com
Game highlights and stills provided courtesy of mlsssocer.com