Analysis: New England Revolution (a). Lions Fall In Foxborough.
Facing Bruce Arena's Revs at Foxborough is akin to falling through Jabba The Hutt's trapdoor and facing his Rancor. It generally really only ends in the Revs feasting. A severely depleted Orlando City, less Facundo Torres, Pedro Gallese, Antonio Carlos and Kyle Smith, to name just a few, were charged with breaking New England's home streak.
Spoiler alert... They did not break it.
It was also going to be a bunker down sort of game. And so it proved, with the Rev dominating much of the overall play. The Lion's task was made all the more difficult by a sodden artificial turf. Wet 'N' Wild saw less people slipping during its day. In the second half, Orlando actually looked a lot more threatening than they did in the first. The issue was, New England brought their finishing boots out. Goals from Emmanuel Boateng, Gustavo Bou and Charles Gil were enough to seal victory. Well, that wasn't the only issue...
Usually, as you all know, I break down the game tactically and point to what the team did well or what they could do better. The truth is, they didn't do a lot wrong. All three goals could have been defended better for sure... Which is something Oscar Pareja highlighted in his post match comments;
"Obviously, frustrating not getting the result but the analysis of the game is clear. I told the boys push and they played a very good half in the second half. The goals were placed, isolated. We could have defended better and that's probably the frustration that we carry right now. We had the chances to score, we had the chances to equalize the game and then, when we were pushing the most and when we were reacting and we were putting New England in their last third, that second goal came. That was frustrating, the same with the third goal. But the effort from the players was very good. I have to say that it has been a very good half, especially in the first half it was probably for either team.”
But, still, the performance was OK, at least in my opinion.
Statistically speaking, there wasn't much in it; they had an XG of 0.71, ours was 0.82. They had 14 shots to our 16, whilst both teams created 1 big chance, although they took theirs (Bou's goa). Add to that 2 decent long range finishes from Boateng and Gil... And that's why we lost.
The reality is, and this is going to sound like excuse making, Orlando were always going to struggle with the sheer amount of absentees they had to cope with. You'll never hear that excuse from Pareja, but it has to be considered a factor.
Ever since I began following this league about 15 years ago, I've often been baffled by some of the things they do. Playing through FIFA windows is by far the most baffling aspect of Major League Soccer. I'd put it above the roster rules and GAM. At least they make sense in the wider context of American sports.
This refusal to break for internationals it's just plain stupid. "Hey, you know when all the best players go to play for their countries? Let's not break for that. Let's punish teams for having good players. We'll have an inferior product for a few weeks a season and it'll provide us with zero benefits." Great idea, Don!
Orlando's international absentees included Pedro Gallese, Wilder Cartagena and Facundo Torres. Those are 3 guaranteed starters. You then factor in that Antonio Carlos, Kyle Smith and Gastón González are out and it's a huge problem. Whilst New England had their absentees too, they still had all of their key attackers on the field. When you consider the conditions the two teams played in too, with New England far more used to turf, we were always likely to lose that game.
I know this all sounds like I'm making excuses. And, I guess that's the truth of the matter really. I am. Whilst Orlando could have done better with all three goals, I don't think there was an awful lot wrong with their performance under the circumstances.
Chalk it up to experience and move on, I guess.
I actually felt Pereyra had a decent game, he got around the pitch well and played some intelligent passes, which led to him creating 5 total chances for his teammates. He also did his fair share of defensive work, making 9 recoveries, winning 5 duels and 1 tackle.
Stajduhar -6- Looked like he'd not played for a while.
Halliday -6- Struggled after having played youth football for a while.
Jansson -7- Defended most of their crosses well.
Schlegel -6- I always feel better with Antonio Carlos, but he didn't do a whole lot wrong.
Santos -6- Didn't have much joy going forward, but still provided a few quality crosses.
Araujo -6- Was always walking on egg shells after the early card.
Felipe -6- Seemed to struggle with the wet turf.
Ojeda -7- Looked threatening at times.
Pereyra -7- Used the ball well.
Angulo -6- Should have done better with a few chances that came his way.
Kara -6- Was always going to be an isolated evening on the wet turf.
McGuire -7- Took the goal well, is more mobile than Kara so should have started.
Petrasso -6- Didn't have much of an impact.
Dagur Dan -6- Got about well, which is all I can say really.
Juninho -6- Looked confident the few minutes he was on.
Enrique -6- Came on too late.
Orlando City head coach Oscar Pareja
"It doesn't sound good that we talk about those things because it looks like we’re finding excuses but yeah, the weather was not good, turf is the turf. We knew it and it took us a little while to adjust to those two things, especially the turf. But the second half we just got the rhythm, we had the pace of the ball and so I know the boys don't want to take any excuse of it. They had the chances and they [New England] were clever those two or three actions when they scored at the end and we had ours, too.”
*Top player image and cover image courtesy of Orlando City SC.
All statistics from fotmob.com
Media availability footage and B-Roll footage courtesy of Orlando City SC.