Analysis: Toronto FC (a). Orlando Rounds Out Excellent Regular Season With Another Road Win.
OK, so this piece is going to look a little different to the usual format. I wasn't sure how to frame this analysis, heading into the match, as I knew it would be particularly difficult to glean anything of note having seen our line-up.
When you make so many changes and bring in players who have barely kicked a ball in anger for the last few months, you're going to get disjointed play.
It was a turgid first 45 minutes from Orlando City, which confirmed my initial feelings. Even from the second half, I don't think there's an awful lot to mull over in a tactical sense. We clearly looked much more inventive when the A Squad came on. Duncan McGuire lit the place up. But from a team performance point of view, there's not much we can make of the display overall. We won't see an XI like that during the post-season.
So, I wanted to run the rule over the performance of some of our fringe players. Gastón González, Mason Stajduhar and Luca Petrasso have been unable to force their way into the starting XI, all season. Some fared better than others.
Gosh, it disturbs me to see you Gastón, looking so down in the dumps. Did himself no favours with this display. The Argentine has been linked with a move away from the club at various points throughout the season, and that move feels inevitable this winter.
He had a rotten start to his career in the 407, with that horrific injury. And he hasn't looked like establishing his place in the squad since. With only 2 assists in his 21 career appearances at the club, it's hard to justify him having a consistent place in the team.
Despite being on the field for just over an hour, he attempted only 9 passes and completed 0 dribbles. Overall, he had 0 shots, 0 key passes and 0 chances created. The game just seemed to pass him by entirely.
And that's been largely his biggest problem whenever he has played. He never gives Oscar Pareja a reason to include him again. He worked hard enough, he got up and down the pitch (figure 1), but just didn't threaten often enough, against the worst team in the league.
Figure 1 shows González's heatmap.
Remarkably, this was only the 11th MLS start for the 25-year-old. Not all that surprising when you consider everything he has been through, and the fact that Pedro Gallese is in front of him. Still, he did not disgrace himself (understatement) at all and again showed why he is the number two 'keeper over 'Running of the Wall' hero Adam Grinwis.
Stajduhar was very solid in a game that Toronto were the better side in, for much of the contest. Mason made 3 saves, 11 recoveries and 1 high claim. He even recorded an assist with an effective route one kick, which McGuire cleverly flicked over the head of the retiring Michael Bradley, before cracking a shot into the top corner.
I don't think anyone will be complaining if he's still with us next season.
This was the Canadian youngsters' first start since April and it showed. Whilst the excellent form of Rafael Santos has probably been the largest contributory factor to Petrasso's lack of game time, his performance in the first half won't have helped his cause. He looked lost at times and his positioning was all over the place. The former Toronto man struggled to get to grips with Kobe Franklin, who was able to create 2 chances and made 4 crosses from that position. Federico Bernadeschi and Lorenzo Insigne were both drifting towards the right (figure 2), which meant Petrasso often had his work cut out for him, in fairness.
There were a couple of occasions where he was caught out in terms of his positioning too (figures 3 & 4).
I'm probably being a little harsh. I'm not saying we should move him on, just that I don't think he'll have given Oscar Pareja anything to think about for Nashville. But that's not to say there isn't a player there. He's still young (23), so there's plenty of time.
Figure 2 shows Bernadeschi's, Franklin's and Insigne's heatmap, whole 90.
Figure 3 is a game still from the first half.
Figure 4 is a game still from the second half.
I don't know if there's much more I can add, that hasn't already been said.
If we go all the way, he'll have had a huge hand in it.
Orlando City head coach Oscar Pareja
"Well we're very happy with the performance. The players have [had] a great season, but the most important part is coming. It was not easy today to come here, the last game [of the regular season] and have this performance. It’s [BMO Field] a difficult place. It was a moment for us, just being qualified [for playoffs] in the second place, to take care of some players but also make sure that we are doing the right decisions. So we're very proud of the players like always. They are the ones who make this happen. We keep growing and we will keep being consistent and being prepared for what is coming.”
Top player image and cover image courtesy of Orlando City SC.
B-Roll footage and media availability footage courtesy of Orlando City SC.
Game stills courtesy of MLS/Apple TV+