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  • Writer's pictureDan Berridge

Analysis: Santos Laguna (h). Orlando's Continental debut ends in disappointment.

Orlando City's maiden voyage into continental football promised to deliver so much. Although it delivered relatively little; there were times where it threatened to deliver so much more. The Lions were unfortunate to find themselves 1-0 down, going into the break. Juan Ortero's effort squirmed its way past Mason Stajduhar and into the net. Truthfully, Mason should have done much better with the effort, as Ruan should have closed him down quicker. It was a blunder that proved costly in what was ultimately an incredibly tight affair.

Despite all that, there were plenty of positives for Oscar Pareja to take from that first-half showing. Orlando zipped the ball around well, and seemed to hold a solid defensive shape. They just needed more dynamic movement off the ball; it all felt a little static at times. Particularly in the forward areas. Generally, though, Orlando acquitted themselves well against their historic visitors. Before the interval anyway. Some more efficient finishing early in the game, and the Lions may not have had to lick their wounds so vociferously at half-time.

As much as the first-half was keenly contested, the second... Well, it just wasn't. I'm acutely aware of Santos' quality. And in many ways it's nice to be bumping shoulders with these clubs, after the way Orlando City's MLS tenure began. I'm not going to sugar coat that second 45, though. It was poor.

There was a distinctly alarming lack of desire and energy; there was a lethargy about Orlando's play that was akin to Boris Johnson's coronavirus response. Slow and largely ineffective. It was a very uncharacteristically languid performance. We'll just have to assume it was a bad night at the office. Attention now turns to Nashville, in what will be an incredibly tough match. Orlando will want to hit the right notes in music city. Sorry, I couldn't help myself. I'm currently feeling somewhat melancholy after seeing the Lions bow out of the Leagues Cup with barely so much as a whimper, which brings out the pun in me.


They say possession is 9/10ths of the law, but it didn't seem to do Orlando City a whole lot of good in this game. Orlando had more of the ball overall 53.1%, completing 445 passes to their visitors 397, for an overall pass success rate of 80.7% (figure 1). Those numbers don't read too badly on the face of it, but when you study the footage you get a completely different story. The difference between Orlando's passing in the first 45 minutes, and the second 45 minutes was like night and day.

As previously mentioned, they zipped the ball around well before the interval. Sadly many of the major statistics websites are not carrying detailed breakdowns of this game, so I'm unable to show you the difference between the two halves. That being said, one common denominator throughout the entirety of this match was Orlando's inability to find the killer pass.

Orlando's passing accuracy in the opposition half, and final third was below par. Only 71.9% of their passes in Santos' half found a purple jersey, whilst 74.8% found their target in the final third (figure 2). There was a distinct lack of movement, which attributed to this. Particularly in the second-half. It was just such a static performance after the break. It was weird. They just weren't able to make their usual connections to outlets such as Ruan (figure 3). They were able to find those passes at times, just not on a regular enough basis.

Figure 1 shows some of Orlando's (left) passing statistics.

Figure 2 shows a breakdown of Orlando's passing in the final third.

Figure 3 shows Orlando's passing network.

As I've already alluded to, I'm conscious that Orlando were up against a higher calibre of opposition compared to what they're ordinarily used to. And at times, there were genuinely pleasing things happening. There just seem to be too many key players who are off colour right now. Whilst in the context of this game, it's probably not a huge concern, but when you consider Orlando's recent run of form, you could be forgiven for feeling a little anxious about the games to come.

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A costly mistake or two

Owing to the tight nature of both the game and the scoreline, Mason Stajduhar's costly error ultimately led to Orlando paying a heavy price. I don't want to be too critical of Stajduhar, however. He actually made a few good saves throughout the evening. That being said you have to think that Orlando might've had a greater chance had that effort not gone in, especially when you consider they only had 3 shots on target aside from the goal. All of which Stajduhar was equal too.

One aspect of this play I want to focus on is Ruan's lack of intensity when closing the ball down (figure 4). He tries to stand Ortero up, you can see he's worried about getting shown a clean set of heels on the outside. He doesn't get goalside however, which allows the Santos player time to hit a shot. His attempt to block is just lazy to boot. As much as Mason should be saving the shot, he shouldn't really be facing it in the first instance.

Figure 4 is a clip of the winning goal from Santos.

Top player

Antonio Carlos

There weren't too many players to choose from, but I felt Antonio Carlos looked assured throughout the game, and generally performed well. As I mentioned previously, many major statistic websites aren't carrying the numbers for this game, so I can't give you individual statistics. That being said, his composure when defending and in possession of the ball belied many of his teammates, who seemed far less, and uncharacteristically so, comfortable when in possession of the football. For me it's an absolute joke that he's not going to the All-Star game.

Player ratings

Starting XI

Stajduhar -7- Aside from the goal he had a pretty solid game.

Ruan -6- Just doesn't seem to be as devastating as he usually is.

Antonio Carlos -7- Solid display.

Jansson -6- His pass selection, when playing out from the back, was decidedly off-key.

Moutinho -7- Provided a few decent crosses.

Perea -6- Not his best game.

Urso -5- Was very un-Bear like. The red card summed things up.

Nani -6- Struggled to get in the game.

Pereyra -6- Nowhere near his best.

Mueller -5- Unpopular opinion, but I don't think Orlando will miss him on this season's form.

Akindele -5- Was totally starved of any service.


Van Der Water -6- Showed some energy but precious little end product.

Michel -6- Was hardly able to get into the game.

Mas -5- Came in too late.

Lorea -5- Not sure he even touched the ball, he came in so late.

Smith -6- Got about well in the short time he was in.

*All statistics courtesy of

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