Analysis: NYCFC (h). Tesho Closes Again Giving The Lions Some Real Estate In The Play-Off Race.
*Mild She Hulk spoilers ahead. Which other sports site gives you this sort of disclaimer!?
Tesho Akindele is putting some respect back on his name. Tesho is well known for his real estate investment and property ownership. Now he can add New York City FC to his ownership portfolio. It was Orlando's first statement win for a while, and came with the filip of a very positive performance from the Lions.
This recent upturn in results and, crucially, performances, couldn't have come at a better time. The Open Cup final is on the horizon, and before that, a vitally important cross conference match up against Seattle. Perhaps just as importantly, Oscar Pareja has relieved the mounting pressure on his job.
Taking the game to NYCFC
Whilst by no means a perfect performance, this was a very positive showing from Orlando City. The Lions were adventurous and creative in possession, with Facundo Torres again at the forefront of things. The Uruguayan playmaker was absolutely everywhere (figure 1). He was, again, given licence to roam across the midfield and forward areas. The erstwhile Peñarol man had the freedom to seek the ball and make things happen.
It wasn't just Facu, though. Orlando's passing and movement was generally very good, as was their defensive work. They never allowed NYCFC to settle on the ball, which meant they could keep the visitors under constant pressure (33 clearances compared to Orlando's 6). Look at the clip in figure 2, Schlegel wins the ball back and Orlando move the ball nicely. The man on the ball always has an option; there was a synergy to their play.
There's another excellent example in the clip in figure 3. Look how they build up play from the bag. The midfield double pivot of Cesar Araujo and Andres Perea both drop to just in front of the back 4, whilst Ruan and Joao Moutinho both go wide, which opens up several central passing lanes. The Lions are then able to work the ball up the field and get the likes of Junior Urso and Facundo Torres into dangerous areas. There's never a point in this clip, where the player in possession doesn't have at least 2 passing options. This is what you want. It's such a simple concept, but one that is often neglected. Movement off the ball is so important.
They connected with each other like a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie somehow connects to the rest of the franchise. Seriously, how do they do it? She Hulk is the latest example, now I know why Bruce Banner's arm was back to normal in Shang-Chi...
Anyway, as usual, I digress...
The point is, Orlando seem to have gotten their confidence back and seem to have the belief and desire to play games on the front foot and approach the game in a positive manner.
Figure 1 shows Facu's heatmap, whole 90.
Figure 2 is a clip from the first half.
Figure 3 is a clip from the second half.
The rise of Tesho
I'm getting a little bit of de ja vu here. After his well taken goal last week, I spoke about how much sh*t Tesho gets. All of it is undeserved. He's an experienced professional and one who is a popular figure in a multi cultural dressing room. He knows exactly what this league and more specifically, this club, is all about.
He took his goal exceptionally well. It was a devilish ball from Ivan Angulo, that was met with deadly precision by Tesho. He showed the desire to get to that ball first and hand the Lions 3 vital points.
So, put some respect on his name.
The creative Uruguayan was again at his best in this match. He created 3 chances in the game, had 80 touches and completed 75% of his passes. His movement was clever as he exploited the space in between the lines, and continued to enjoy the freedom afforded to him in his more central role. For me, he has to be a front runner for player of the season at Orlando City.
Gallese -6- Didn't have a massive amount to do.
Ruan -7- Passing was off, but he defended well.
Antonio Carlos -7- That red was mind boggling. Glad VAR intervened.
Schlegel -7- Had a solid game.
Moutinho -7- Defended well 1 v 1.
Cartagena -7- Had a solid enough debut.
Urso -8- Played really well, great goal.
Michel -7- Worked hard on defence.
Torres -9- Our best player on the night.
Mulraney -6- Full of running, but that's about it. Had only 18 touches.
Kara -7- Led the line well.
Araujo -7- Came in and shored things up.
Perea -6- Got about the pitch well.
Angulo -7- Killer corner for Tesho's goal.
Akindele -8- Won us the game.
Smith -6- Was a bit of an odd sub.
Head Coach Oscar Pareja:
“I thought it was a great victory, well deserved by our players. I think the effort they had during the whole game today showed the character that they have brought in these last three games, so we are very proud. The first half showed a lot of courage with the rain, the fans that supported us through that rain, too. It was difficult to play, but I think we showed a lot of personality, too. We came out winning the half and in the second half New York came out with some ideas that complicated us and they took the middle of the field, but after their goal our reaction, especially with the players that came in, was phenomenal. They lifted us, they took the team on their shoulders and gave us that energy that we needed and more than the energy, the ideas, and we ended up being the best team. That feeling that you’re going to score here at Exploria [Stadium] again in front of our fans is a great feeling, so we’re very happy.”
Top player image and cover image courtesy of Orlando City SC.
Post match media availability footage and B-roll courtesy of Orlando City SC.