Analysis: Montréal Impact. Orlando advances as Montréal struggle to make an impact.
Updated: Jul 26
Orlando City are in to the quarter finals of the MLS Is Back tournament. This is not a drill people! Oscar Pareja's side were deserved winners as they put Thierry Henry's Impact team to the sword. Tesho Akindele scored his second goal of the tournament to seal a 1-0 victory, in a game where they held the upper hand for the majority of the 90 minutes. It was a hard-fought win against a, let's be frank, very poor Impact side.
Impact head coach Henry again tinkered with his formation, employing a 4-1-4-1 as opposed to the 4-3-2-1 we saw against D.C. United. There was also 1 personnel change as Okwonko came in for Urruti. Orlando, on the other hand, played a settled side. And it showed. The only change from the draw with the Philadelphia Union was the inclusion of Sebas Mendez over Junior Urso; who was left out of the squad entirely following on from the knock he picked up against Philly. It was anticipated that he would be fit for the game, however Pareja seemingly decided against gambling on the Brazilian's fitness.
This was a game that Orlando dominated from start to finish, but were never able to strangle all life from. Which will be a cause for concern in Oscar Pareja's mind. Yes, we got the win. But really, you want to see the team snuff out all hope for the opposition by scoring a second. And a third. But that will come in time.
It's not like they didn't have the chances. Mauricio Pereyra, Chris Mueller and Sebas Mendez were all guilty of spurning very good opportunities. Despite those misses, this was a game that Orlando City were always in control of. Particularly when it comes to possession of the ball (see figures 1 and 3). Orlando City had an 89% pass success rate from 585 passes. That is very impressive. Just to give you some context, in their recent 2-0 win over Aston Villa EPL champions Liverpool had an 84% pass success rate from 672 passes. Obviously, I am not saying we're as good as Liverpool. Though we have markedly improved our ability to control possession of the football. Which is so important when you play teams like Montréal, who are going to try and be compact and soak up pressure before hitting you on the counter. Any slip could be costly.
Figure 1 shows just shows how dominant the Lions were in this game, leading in shots, possession, pass success, dribbles and tackles won.
All of this led to Orlando City leading possession with 56.6% of the play. What was impressive, as well, was the way Orlando were able to switch play between both flanks. And one man in particular is demonstrating his importance in this; Uri Rosell. The best example of this comes in the 20th minute. Ruan picks the ball up on the right, just inside opposition territory, before feeding the ball in field for the Spaniard. Rosell then drives, with his left foot (!) an absolute peach of a ball to Nani on the left wing. This pass eventually led to the Mueller chance I referenced earlier.
Uri Rosell was absolutely superb in this game, and is fast becoming one of Orlando's most important players in my view. He was undoubtedly a big contributor to the statistics illustrated in figure 3, and to that very impressive overall team pass completion rate. Without him, all of this simply does not happen. He keeps things ticking over, allowing the more creative guys to do their work. Anyone who doubts his importance, I would suggest, doesn't necessarily understand the game as well as they think they might. I realise that may seem somewhat abrasive, but it's the truth. He's that important.
Figure 2 shows that Uri Rosell had 97.5 pass completion rate from 81 attempted distributions.
Figure 3 goes into a little more detail. Orlando City had an 89% pass success rate from 585 passes. That's a very good statistic.
Almost got PROed... again
I mean, come on, this is Orlando City and MLS. This was bound to happen at some point. Orlando had a goal chalked off in the 40th minute, after Sebas Mendez poked the ball home. The assistant referee judged Tesho Akindele to be in an offside position when he receives the give and go from Mendez. It must have been Tesho's right bootlace or something. As you can see from the still below, only his arm is in an offside position. And you can't legally score with your arm. How this didn't go to review is beyond me, for me it was a perfectly good goal. Thankfully we weren't left to rue this decision.
Figure 4 shows a still from the highly questionable offside call which robbed Orlando of a goal on 40 minutes.
Orlando's right flank
The weapon that is Orlando City's right flank is probably one of the worst kept secrets in MLS. I think this may have been one of the reasons behind why Henry switched to two banks of four. Mueller and Ruan again caused havoc down that right flank. I think it helped Orlando City's cause that Romell Quioto is such an attack minded player. He did a very poor job of tracking back, in my opinion. This often left Jorge Luis Corrales hopelessly exposed to the pace of Mueller and Ruan. And we saw this at multiple intervals during the first half. Mueller and Ruan were all over them like rashnold on a kalak. Star Wars reference. Not done one for a while. Sorry, not sorry. Bonus geek points to anyone who can tell me the movie. Anyway, I digress.
I actually think Corrales defended reasonably well, but when you're being overloaded by two such pacey players it's an almost impossible task. You only have to look at the touch map in figure 5 to understand what I mean.
Oscar Pareja knows he has pace and quality down that flank, and by using a settled team each game he is allowing relationships on the field to form. You have to think the partnership of Mueller and Ruan is one of the most dangerous in Major League Soccer right now.
Figure 5 this touch map shows how many touches of the ball Mueller and Ruan had down that right hand side.
Tesho Akindele is a player who, in my opinion, doesn't always get the credit he deserves. The goal he scored last night (Saturday 25 July), for me, epitomises the player. Intelligence. He is anticipating a mistake or a mix-up from the Impact defenders. This is something that every good striker does, you have to try and anticipate your opponent's slip-ups so you are ready to pounce. He might not be a 25 goal a season forward, but he will get you 10-15 goals, as he showed last season. His energy, and the clever runs he makes provide the team with another offensive outlet. His aerial ability and hold-up play are also crucial. These abilities will take on added importance following the news of Dom Dwyer's injury (see below).
Not too much to say that we haven't already covered. I would argue this was one of his best ever games for City. He is so vital to this team. He may not steal the glory or the headlines with goals and assists, but we would notice if he were to go missing. He is vital in helping the team keep possession, and in probing opposition defences. Everything seems to go through the Barcelona academy graduate just now. The superb display of passing he laid on last night would have done the La Mesia coaches proud.
Gallese -6- Didn't have a whole lot to do, barely made a save.
Ruan -7- Was a constant menace down the right hand side for OC. Pareja could turn him into a top, top player in MLS.
Jansson -7- As sturdy and reliable as usual. Pushed up on the Impact forward line and effectively marked them out of the game.
Carlos -7- Looks more and more capable with every game he plays.
Moutinho -6- A few lousy touches in the first half, but was as dependable as ever in the second 45.
Rosell -9- For me, he was the best player on the park. Vital part of this team's engine room.
Mendez -6- Decidedly off-colour in this game. Turned the ball over a few times. Needs to up his game if he is to permanently displace Urso.
Nani -7- Looked dangerous every time he got on the ball, and is forming a nice partnership with Pereyra. Lovely, deft flick to set up the Uruguayan early on.
Pereyra -8- Improving game on game, though he should really have added to his goal tally early doors.
Mueller -7- Industrious as ever, is forming a great partnership with Ruan.
Akindele -7- Only 19 touches in the game, but is always available for an out ball. Great anticipation for his goal.
Dike -6- Looked lively. Great to see him get minutes.
Smith -6- Solid performance in giving Ruan a rest.
Perea -6- Energetic appearance.
DeZart -6- Pleasing to see another youth debut.
Schlegel -6- Difficult to judge. Did nothing wrong in particular.
All statistics provided courtesy of whoscored.com
All game images provided courtesy of ESPN2.