Analysis: New York Red Bulls (h). Red Bulls inflict Orlando City's second defeat of the season.
What is it with the Red Bulls, guys? Seriously, Gerhard Struber's side seem to have really gotten our number. Orlando, again, struggled to negate their high press. On the occasions we were able to play through it, we were either fouled or unable to make them pay. The Red Bulls are among the league leaders in fouls committed. They're not a dirty team as such, but they commit to the press so high, any transitional mishaps can leave them exposed. A tactical tug of the shirt counters that.
They're a good side, and they took their goals well. Personally, I think we should initiate an Orlando wide boycott of Red Bull energy drinks as a result. Drink a can of Monster instead. Or maybe something that doesn't rot your insides. Coca-Cola, Ronaldo level stock market crash coming in 3, 2....
It was a nightmare start for the Lions. Orlando struggled to get to grips with the Red Bull's press early doors, Junior Urso got booked and then Cristian Cásseres Jr curled a left footed shot beyond Brandon Austin in the Orlando goal. The goal was the Red Bull's 4th of the season from outside the 18; it's becoming a bit of a trademark for them, they're 2nd in the league for goals outside the area over the last 4 seasons. Orlando didn't get out to Cásseres quickly enough. And he made them pay. Orlando had a goal, correctly, ruled out from Antonio Carlos. His subsequent injury will be a huge blow to this team. He's rapidly proved himself to be one of the league's best defenders. It was a very frenetic start to the game, that's for sure.
The first-half was a struggle for Orlando, which was possibly summed up by Mauricio Pereyra's penalty late in the half; the move to win the penalty was well worked, the finish wasn't. Orlando just couldn't seem to capitalise on any of their chances, despite building up well. The second 45 was an improvement, in some ways. Orlando hauled themselves level, courtesy of a well taken Chris Mueller goal. A rare defensive slip, ended up cost Orlando their unbeaten home record. It was a frustrating evening overall.
Orlando's struggles with the high press
This is something Orlando have typically struggled against, so far this season. And, in the Red Bulls, we were probably up against one of the best pressing sides in the entire league. It's so difficult to play through an effective, well-organised press. This was reflected in Orlando's relatively modest pass success rate of 77%. You'll notice from the graphics in figures 1, 2 and 3 that the Red Bulls were getting right in the face of Orlando's defenders, when in possession of the ball.
The visitors' commitment to, and effective utilisation of, the high press enabled the Red Bulls to force turnovers in Orlando's half of the field, and led to them winning a decent amount of interceptions and tackles. The first goal is an excellent example of this. The visitors force the mistake and a few passes later, boom. 0-1.
Both Andres Perea and Junior Urso were dropping in front of the back 4 to receive the ball, but then 2 or 3 Red Bulls jerseys were joining them, leaving Orlando's defensive third very congested. Again, this is exactly what happened for the opener. Urso's closed down, Urso makes a mistake... And the the ball ends up in the Orlando net. It's such an effective tactic, one that Jürgen Klopp's Liverpool have perfected over the years. In MLS terms, the Red Bulls are probably the best at it.
Figure 1 shows the Red Bull's attempted tackle positioning matrix.
Figure 2 shows the Red Bull's interception positioning matrix.
Figure 3 shows the heatmap for the Red Bull's forwards and midfielders.
Orlando's profligate finishing
As I alluded to earlier, Orlando had more than enough chances to win this game. Orlando totalled 13 shots on goal, with 6 hitting the target. Chris Mueller, Daryl Dike and Mauricio Pereyra were all guilty of missed golden scoring opportunities. Orlando had an XG rating of 1.28, heading into this game. And posted a total XG of 1.8 for this game. The Lions were a mere 0.1 ahead of the Red Bulls. In a game as tight as this one, the margins were fine. Extremely so. Dike missed a clear one v one opportunity, shortly before Mueller's equaliser. Pereyra missed a penalty, and a few other chances went amiss. Take even one of those, and it's a whole different ball game. Orlando have been burying these chances lately, so there's no need to panic. It was just an off night.
On a night where Orlando largely toiled, Chris Mueller continued his recent resurgence with a typically industrious display, and a well taken goal to boot. With 3 shots, 2 dribbles and 1 key pass, Mueller was Orlando's most threatening attacking piece. As such, he richly deserved his goal. His well taken, curling finish was like Chris Mueller of 2020. It was no easy chance, either. The chance had an XG of 7.7% on mlssoccer.com. Which says it all, really. His return to form can only be a good thing for the Lions. Mueller posted a pass completion rate of 76.7% from 30 passes, he also provided 2 accurate crosses. His willingness to run at the Red Bulls defence, and his work on the defensive side of the ball underlined his importance to this club.
Austin -6- Not much he could do with either goal. Looked assured, generally. Halliday -6- He and Schlegel seemed to lose track of Fabio for the winner. Solid display otherwise from the youngster. Antonio Carlos -6- Early injury is, potentially, a huge blow. Jansson -7- The Swede won a number of duels, and distributed the ball well. Smith -7- Defended well one v one; solid enough. Perea -7- Didn't quite hit the heights he has done lately. His passing accuracy dropped off a little. Urso -6- Similarly to Perea, just didn't seem to hit top form. Mueller -7- Was Orlando's best player on the night; took the goal well. Pereyra -6- Will be upset with himself regarding the penalty. Smart pass for the goal. Nani -6- Quiet evening for the Portuguese. Dike -6- Barely got a kick.
Rosell -6- Working his way back to full fitness.
Akindele -5- Came in too late to have any significant impact.
Michel -6- Came in late, but still had a few decent runs.
Schlegel -6- Stepped towards the ball for the winner, which afforded Fabio space. Made some crucial interventions at other points, though.
Van Der Water -5- Couldn't impact the game. He did come in late, but had plenty of the ball. Couldn't get any rhythm.
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