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  • Writer's pictureDan Berridge

Analysis: San Jose Earthquakes (a). Improved Performance On The Road With Another Clean Sheet And Three Points.

Orlando City put in a much improved performance to seal a second successive away win and, crucially, another clean sheet.


And it was gained in the most dramatic of circumstances with a last gasp winner from Jack Lynn. It's a win that sees the Lions improve to 10th in the East.


It's slow progress, but progress all the same.


Even despite losing Duncan McGuire quite early on, there was a greater chemistry to the team's overall performance. There seemed to be more synergy as passes were connecting which allows Orlando to dictate the ebb and flow of the game.



Orlando were disciplined both in and out of possession. For the first this season I could see what the game plan was. Which seems like a ridiculous thing to be saying at this stage of the season.


It's been that sort of season.


Orlando aren't suddenly OK, but this was a positive step in the right direction.




Looking after the ball


Oftentimes so far this season, we have just looked awkward and uncomfortable when in possession of the ball. We looked measured in this one. Calm. The ball wasn't treated as a hot potatoe. Orlando moved the ball with confidence and a level of assuredness that has hitherto been non existent in 2024.


The stats make for much more pleasant reading (figure 1). Orlando's control of the play meant that San Jose were never really able to build up ahead of speed.


It wasn't a vintage performance by any stretch of the imagination, but it was better. And that's really all we can ask for at this point.


Figure 1 shows Orlando's possession stats (right) vs San Jose.


The move to a back three


There's no doubt the move to a back 3 has been the catalyst for our renewed defensive integrity. It was needed. We were like the walking dead, sleep walking back to 2018. But, as Negan once said, 'if you don't protect what belongs to you, then sooner or later it belongs to someone else.'


Rodrigo Schlegel isn't good enough at this level. He's definitely not good enough in a 2. At least a 3 gives us that added protection. For me, I want to see us go out and recruit another experienced centre-back this summer. Wilder Cartagena has done a good job lately, but I think we miss him in midfield.



I think the back 3 is the way we need to go. At least for now. For the last two games, we have held the opposition to a 0.61 and a 0.55 XG. We have looked a lot more solid. San Jose had 17 touches in our box (figure 2), but only created 1 big chance.


The back 3 were incredibly well organised and snuffed out any half chances with their excellent shape (figures 3 and 4).


Figure 2 shows the touches in opposition box (Orlando right) for both sides.

Figure 3 is a game still from the first half.


Figure 4 is a game still from the second half.


Top player


Jack Lynn

It's never easy coming into a game when you're not expecting it, especially so early. Hopefully Duncan McGuire isn't too badly hurt, but Lynn reminded everyone of his own skill set. He's more Brian McBride than Clint Dempsey, but he holds the ball up well at times (needs a little more consistency) and he occupies the centre backs well. And it was a smart finish for the goal. He did well.


Player ratings


Starting XI


Gallese -7- Made a couple of smart stops.


Brekalo -7- Led the backline well.

Cartagena -7- Solid.

Schlegel -7- Didn't do too much wrong in all fairness.


Angulo -8- Great run for the goal.

Torres -7- Showed some quality touches.

Lodeiro -7- Disciplined performance.

Felipe -7- Solid.

Þórhallsson -7- Worked hard.


McGuire -6- Limped our early.

Muriel -8- Looked good.


Substitutes


Lynn -8- Game winner.

Ojeda -7- Inadvertent assist.

Smith -6- Came in late.

Kocevski -6- Came in late.

Santos -6- Helped see the game out.




Reaction


Orlando City SC Head Coach Oscar Pareja


“It was a great result for a group of players that are giving us all the energy that they have, and they show us a lot of pride on the pitch, trying to resolve the problems. I thought that they had a lot of personality to overcome some bumps in the game. I liked the second half [much better] when we had more control. The boys that came off from the bench helped us a lot, too. But as a team that is growing, their confidence is growing. The way we're playing is much better in terms of efficiency in the other side of the box, and so we're proud. But the thing that we are so happy is to see them battling all the time and trying to do the right things.”




*All statistics courtesy of Fotmob.

Top player image and cover image courtesy of Orlando City SC.

Media availability and b-roll footage courtesy of Orlando City SC.

Game stills courtesy of MLS/Apple TV.



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