Moor Strikes Late as Orlando Suffers Heartbreak In Colorado
Updated: Jun 1
You know what hurts more than seeing the opposition score a last minute goal, that was totally avoidable to send your team to a defeat that they did not deserve? When that goal goes in at around 4 in the morning. I was just about ready to go to bed, already thinking of penning an article on a hard fought point on the road when the worst happened. The travelling Lions were more than a match for a team that I fancy to be dark horses in this year's MLS Cup race. The Rapids have goals in them, and confidence will have been high following an opening day 2-1 road win in the capital. I've since had nightmare riddled sleep, nightmares that generally centre around a 36 year old Texan crushing my hopes and dreams at an ungodly hour of the morning.
This was very much a game of two halves for Orlando City. In the first half they were rock solid, and deserving of a clean sheet. They were threatening on the break, and looked every inch a team capable of getting a result in tough conditions against a play-off calibre opponent. Overall Orlando were more than a capable match for their hosts. Orlando registered 14 shots, with 5 on target compared to 12 shots and 5 on target for the hosts. They also chalked up 45% of the possession with 420 passes and an 80% completion rate. Comparatively Colorado registered 499 passes with an overall completion rate of 85%. If you check out the heat map below, you'll see the vast majority of their possession came in the defensive and middle thirds of the field. This reflects their relatively low shots on target tally, when compared with the level of possession the hosts enjoyed. Orlando were happy to let them have the ball, whilst still continuing to press at every opportunity, which led to 20 successful tackles being committed by Orlando players, which led to 6 turnovers. The high press will win Orlando a lot of games this season, but we need to be able to turn those turnovers into goals. Something that I expect will become easier once Dom Dwyer and Nani come back in to the fold.
All statistics provided courtesy of whoscored.com.
Highlights of Orlando City's 2-1 reversal in Denver available here, courtesy of Major League Soccer: https://youtu.be/X_0aJ1QHIrU
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The second half performance wasn't as impressive for me. The Lions offered little going forward, prior to the opener. At that stage though you sensed they didn't really need to and were happy to try and contain the Rapids. Namli opened the scoring off of a great individual effort, which forced the visitors to have a bit more of a go. And they didn't have to wait for too long as they forced a deserved equaliser from substitute Chris Mueller. The Lions then needlessly put themselves on the back foot, which ultimately led to them conceding a corner. Jack Price swung a great ball in for Drew Moor to rise highest and break Orlando hearts. This was a tough loss, and one that I'm not convinced to Lions deserved.
Not having Pereyra and Ruan available for the 90, as both nursed injury and illness was a huge blow. Whilst Kyle Smith deputised capably at wing back, the driving runs and sheer pave of Ruan were a big miss last night. As was Pereyra's ability to play between the lines and read the game. His introduction freed up Urso and Perea a little, and the two were able to combine well and set Chris Mueller up to open Orlando's account on the season.
For the first 45 minutes, Orlando played in a very compact manner. They gave absolutely nothing away, and didn't allow the likes of Jack Price, Leo Kamara and Andre Shinyasiki. Pedro Gallese had another solid 45, he was tested on one or two occasions. The Peruvian stood tall to block a long range hit from Shinyasiki(?). I think, hey it was 2.30 am for me. Cut me some slack. Or get me some coffee. I'm good with either.
They began the game in a 3-5-2 formation, with Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel and Antonio Carlos looking to be in imperious form in the backline. Kyle Smith and João Moutinho were solid in the wing back roles, and gave the Lions decent options going forward. Both went close to opening Orlando's goal account for the season, with Mountinho flashing a right footed curler just wide before Kyle Smith was denied by Clint Irwin in the Rapids goal. The keeper stood firm as the former Louisville City full-back sent a rasping volley towards goal.
Junior Urso had another impressive half for Orlando, he was dynamic and quick to release the ball on the counter. He himself tested Irwin from range with a left footed drive from 30 yards. The Brazilian combined well with Andres Perea. The Colombian looked assured and confident in position on his MLS debut. He belied his youth and his inexperience (only 14 career appearances prior to joining Orlando from Atlético Nacional). Sebas Mendez was busy doing Sebas Mendez things. The Ecuadorian looks settled, and was central to every thing the Lions did in midfield.
Tesho Akindele struggled to get into the game during the first period, with Orlando relying on the counter the Canadian didn't see a whole lot of the ball. Beni Michel did a great job of running the lines and stretching the Rapids defensively, but had precious little to enjoy in front of goal. Both pressed with vigour and urgency, not allowing the hosts to settle.
In the second half Orlando tailed off a little, but were still fairly comfortable until Younes Namli danced around a couple of challenges before sending a shot low into the bottom corner. It was a piece of individual brilliance and a great finish. Regardless, it was avoidable. Andres Perea gets turned a little too easily and both Sebas Mendez and Robin Jansson don't get to the shot quick enough for me. I don't attribute much blame to Pedro Gallese. The Peruvian could perhaps have positioned himself more centrally, but even if he had it was a great hit. The goal encouraged Orlando to come out a bit more, which they did to good effect. Junior Urso fed a neat ball to Andres Perea who then laid on a slide rule pass for Chris Mueller to deftly slot past the advancing keeper. It was a lovely finish from the third year forward out of Wisconsin.
I was guilty of allowing myself to think that was job done. A draw was probably a fair result based on both the statistics and the overall balance of play. The hosts had other ideas though. Orlando allowed the Rapids in down the right hand side, where Sebas Mendez slid in on his man to prevent the cross and concede a corner. Now, without wishing to be overally critical I felt like Sebas could have stayed on his feet a little longer and attempted to disposses his man that way. Then from the resultant corner Antonio Carlos is beaten far too easily in the air and Moore's header nestled into the bottom corner. It was a cruel blow, but one the Lions must shake off straight away. The Fire are in town next week, and Nani will be back involved. Whilst both results so far this season have been disappointing, the performances haven't been. I think the signs are encouraging, and if the team continues to improve at its current rate under Oscar Pareja then I suspect I'll be witnessing more wins in the small hours of the morning than I am defeats over the coming months.