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  • Dan Berridge

Analysis: New York Red Bulls (a). Old Habits Die Hard, But Orlando Comes Through With A Win.

I'm going to sound like a right party pooper here, I'm just pre-warning you. That win was obviously a huge one. Not just in terms of the overall play-off picture, but also in terms of the general feel and mood around the club. However, there were a lot of the usual cracks that have covered the surface of recent performances, visible in this game.

The difference this time? The Red Bulls left their shooting boots at home.

Let's take a deep dive.

Orlando's defensive line sat deep for much of the game

Orlando sat off far too deep, particularly after half time (figures 1 & 2). They invited a ton of pressure, which led to the Red Bulls outshooting Orlando by 10-0 after the interval (figure 3). On this occasion we got away with it, but the team cannot continue to do this on a regular basis. But we all know that, but they will.

I'm not even sure why we continue to drop deep on a 1 goal lead at this point. When you talk to the players and staff, you get the feeling it's not a conscious decision to do so. But then it happens, pretty much every week; and it's happened for much of Oscar Pareja's reign... You have to wonder. There are examples of this as far back as 2020. Sometimes you have to defend with your backs to the wall, but it seems like our default position. We got lucky this time, fortunately.

Figure 1 shows a game still from late in the second half.

Figure 2 shows the heatmap for Orlando's back 4.

Figure 3 shows the Red Bull's shot positioning matrix, second 45.

We're very one dimensional in attack

I'm sorry, but we are. Don't let the win fool you; Orlando had only 2 shots in the entire game (figure 4). Both were in the first half. Pato was the one Orlando were relying on to create everything. Then, he went off following a ridiculous challenge from the Red Bulls. A challenge that left him leaving the stadium on crutches. Much like Orlando's attack.

After Pato departed, the onus was on Mauricio Pereyra. Now, some will rightly point to the creativity of Facundo Torres, but I believe he creates in spite of the system we use. Not because of it. He has to do too much defensive work; he made 7 recoveries and won 3 tackles in this match. He's also confined to the left hand side for much of the game (figure 5). Whereas for me he should start centrally and be given the freedom to roam and impact the game how he sees fit. If we let him off the leash, he tears up this league.

Figure 4 shows Orlando's (right) overall attacking statistics.

Figure 5 shows Facundo Torres' heatmap.

Top player

Facundo Torres

I feel as though we've yet to work out how to fully unleash Facu's talents, though it has to be said, he's performing remarkably well given the system constraints. He completed 3 dribbles, created 1 chance, completed 84% of his passes and scored 1 goal. He also did his share of defensive work, notably winning 3 tackles. His rating of 8.2 is fully justified.

There's definitely more to his game than we're seeing, though. He should have the freedom to roam across the front line. He does the defensive side well, but that's not where I want him.

Player ratings

Starting XI

Gallese -7- An assured presence between the sticks.

Smith -7- Defended well in 1 v 1 situations. Jansson -7- Made some vitally important interceptions.

Antonio Carlos -7- Had a very solid game.

Moutinho -7- Similar to Smith, defended the sides well.

Araujo -7- Broke up the play well.

Pereyra -7- Helped to manage possession well.

Torres -8- Aside from Pato, he was the only creative force.

Pato -7- Looked lively and played some lovely passes.

Urso -6- Not his game.

Michel -5- Offered nothing.


Mulraney -5- It's a serious drop off to go to Mulraney from Pato.

Akindele -6- Offered more than Benji.

Perea -6- Helped to see the game out.

Cartagena -6- Helped close the game out.


Head Coach Oscar Pareja:

“A deserved result for the team. A great effort. All the players did a tremendous week of work as well after a couple weeks where we could say we deserved much more, but the game did not reward them. They kept pushing and today in a difficult place against a difficult rival they confirmed first that they are committed to this group and secondly that what happened in the Open Cup was not just a one day thing, with all the respect that we have for New York. Coming back to get the three points is very fresh for us. We are very happy for our fans, hopefully we can get this momentum going. Regarding the game, the first half was very well trained. I think our boys were very smart in occupying the spaces. The rest of the game, we showed balance and we can grow from that balance. Hard job for the boys but a very rewarding three points that mean a lot for us.”

*All statistics courtesy of and

B-roll and media availability footage courtesy of Orlando City SC.

Cover image and top player image courtesy of Orlando City SC.

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