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  • Writer's pictureDan Berridge

Analysis: New York Red Bulls (a). Pareja's tactical gamble doesn't pay off, as Orlando slump in NJ.

Updated: Jun 1, 2021

I'll be brutally honest with you guys; I don't have many positive things to say about that performance. Not much that doesn't involve Silvester Van Der Water anyway. There were, rightly, question marks raised when the line-up was released. Michael Halliday was handed his first senior start, and Silvester Van Der Water was among the substitutes. The line-up, I believe, gave the home side some impetus. They've not been in stellar form, and I'm sure they were pleased to see Orlando set-up in such a defensive manner. For me, this was a massive mistake on Oscar Pareja's part. I spoke, in my preview, about the Red Bull's vulnerabilities on the defensive side of the ball. They were there to be attacked. Instead, we invited pressure and allowed them to press us high. Our low-block struggled to get out, and it handed them the initiative. And they made us pay for it. Dearly.

The issue of Aiás and Alvarado

I'm at a loss. I really am. What is the point? Game after game, these two players (who occupy international roster slots) sit on the bench and... Well, they sit on the bench. Surely, if there's ever a time to bring two attacking pieces onto the field, it's when you're down away from home? Right? Orlando City were labouring in the final third.

Tesho Akindele, actually didn't do too badly. And his stats back that up; pass completion rate of 85% from 29 passes, 1 shot in frame, 2 key passes and 3 drawn fouls. Chris Mueller, though? I'm a huge fan of his, but this is a guy that needs to be removed from the spotlight for a little while. Sometimes, in soccer, players lose form. And actually what they need is someone to take them out of the limelight, and allow them chance to regroup. For someone who is so well known for talking about confidence, he seems to be lacking in it. This was another below par display from the likeable forward. With 5 unsuccessful touches, 3 dispossessions, 0 shots and a pass success rate of 67.4%. it's becoming difficult to justify his continued inclusion, based off of current form.

You then have Andres Perea, starting on the right, but actually roaming all over the field (figure 1). There was no ever present on the right wing, which meant Mauricio Pereyra was often drifting wide to create space (figure 2). But he's not the guy you want creating the space! He's the guy you want in the space! It was so frustrating to watch. It then begs the question, of why Alexander Alvarado wasn't given a run-out? Even when Silvester Van Der Water came in (more on him later). Ideally, when a goal down, you want two dynamic, out-and-out wingers to stretch the defence and create space, for the likes of Pereyra in the centre? It just doesn't make any sense. Matheus Aiás is a central striker, who would surely thrive in such situations? It's baffling to me, especially when Orlando only used 3 of 5 substitutions, that they weren't brought in. If you're not going to bring them on, when you're down away from home, then what's the f***ing point in having them in the squad?

Figure 1 shows Andres Perea's heatmap, whole 90.

Figure 2 shows Mauricio Pereyra's heatmap, whole 90.

I've never questioned Oscar. He's been tremendously successful in turning Orlando City into contenders. But his decision making in this game was highly questionable. Which sort of brings me to my next point...

Oscar Pareja's tactics, and how Orlando's low-block floundered against the high press Nerd alert. I'm going to give you another Star Wars reference. Before you roll your eyes, just read this quote:

Now, don't get me wrong. I love me a Papi special, I mean, who doesn't love to park that bus? And as an in-game strategy it can make a whole lot of sense. It really can also be a useful tactic in certain games, midweek west coast games for example. But it cannot be allowed to grow into a philosophy. It becomes predictable, and actually hands much of the initiative to the opponent. Which is something we saw yesterday. The Red Bulls haven't exactly been setting the world alight, and they were there to be got out. Even without the likes of Nani and Alexandre Pato; there were more than enough attacking pieces for Oscar Pareja to utilise in his match day squad.

Orlando's conservative approach ultimately backfired, and gave the Red Bulls greater confidence. They were able to get into some decent areas and keep us on the back foot (figure 3). The low-block being utilised by Orlando was also inviting pressure on the ball as the Lions tried to play out from the back. To be honest, it was all shoddy.

The Red Bulls were having tremendous success winning balls in dangerous areas. Look at the dispossession position matrix in figure 4. The home side forced an embarrassing number of turnovers in Orlando's half. The more they Orlando back line sat off, the more adventurous New York became. It then became impossible for Orlando to get out. They then resorted to more long balls (61), which lead to an even higher number of turnovers. All round it was just... poor. And it's not very often I say that about this team. For me, Pareja got his tactics wrong, and many of the players just weren't good enough. Deserved defeat.

Figure 3 shows the Red Bull's shot positioning matrix, whole 90.

Figure 4 shows Orlando's dispossession matrix, whole 90.

Top player

Silvester Van Der Water

I mean, it really says it all about a a team's performance when a substitute is top player. Because this segment is the oracle, you should know that by now. With 3 shots, 2 dribbles and 1 goal. It's clear to see the sort of impact he had. He was only on the field for 30 minutes or so, and had 29 touches in total. Only 10 passes. What does that tell us? It tells us what we all, already know. He's direct, willing to drive at defenders and brimming with confidence following in from his debut showing against Toronto. He's got energy, and can put opposition defenders under pressure off the ball, he won 2 tackles to emphasise this. His movement was very positive, as well; just as the heatmap in figure 5 highlights.

Figure 5 shows Silvester Van Der Water's heatmap, whole 90.

Player ratings

Starting XI

Gallese -6- Will be annoyed to have not kept his clean sheet run going.

Halliday -6- First pro-start. Did OK overall but lost track of his runner for the goal.

Antonio Carlos -6- Got caught ball watching for their first goal.

Jansson -6- Not how he would've wanted to return to the ground that he made his debut in.

Smith -6- Could've done more to stop the cross coming in for the first goal.

Mendez -6- Uncharacteristically sloppy passing.

Urso -6- Needless turnovers in the middle.

Mueller -5- Seems a shadow of his former self this season.

Pereyra -6- Couldn't get into the game at all.

Perea -6- All hustle, no bustle in an unfamiliar position.

Akindele -7- Actually led the line fairly well, just had no support.


Van Der Water -8- Man of the match. Which says it all really, as he only played 30 minutes or so.

Michel -6- Anonymous.

Moutinho -7- Seemed to provide a little more balance, and served some decent looking crosses

*Statistics courtesy of


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