Orlando City bounced back by getting a 1-0 win against the LA Galaxy and securing the team’s second win of the season. It was a close match at Dignity Health Sports Park but the Lions responded well after losing at home to FC Cincinnati last week.
Here are five takeaways that I gathered from the Lions’ match-up against the Galaxy.
Facundo Torres is Settling In
It took only four matches but Facundo Torres finally scored his first goal for the Lions against the LA Galaxy, just a week after getting his first MLS assist. Torres scored with a fantastic header, sending the ball sailing past Galaxy goalkeeper Jonathan Bond to give the Lions a 1-0 lead early in the first half. Orlando City only had one shot on goal in the first half and it went in. Ercan Kara provided the assist for Torres's goal and it set the tone for the Lions to be disciplined, stay organized, and force the Galaxy to chase the match. Torres had a few more scoring chances throughout the match, playing 84 minutes. Hopefully, Torres can keep building on this stellar performance.
Ercan Kara Made an Impact on Both Sdes of the Pitch
Striker Ercan Kara did really well on the pitch for the Lions and it went beyond his assist on the Torres goal. Kara also made an impact on the defensive end on set pieces. In the 53rd minute, the LA Galaxy had a chance to get an equalizer from a corner kick, but Kara was able to clear the ball off the line. He also helped force the Galaxy to attack from the wing instead of going down the middle of the pitch.
Lions’ Defense Gets Another Clean Sheet
In the first half, the LA Galaxy had 10 shots but Ruan, Robin Jansson, Joao Moutinho, and Antonio Carlos were able to hold the line in front of Pedro Gallese. Raheem Edwards, Chicharito, and Kevin Cabral had plenty of opportunities in the first half to score goals but were not able to convert on their chances. The Lions' defense did a great job adapting by dropping back to anticipate crosses from the Galaxy and frustrated them throughout the match. Gallese also helped with a nice play on Efrain Alvarez in the 78th minute, smothering a hard ball across the front of goal. Carlos was active, clearing the ball from danger on crosses — finishing with an impressive 14 clearances — and bailing the Lions out with solid defending. The Galaxy dominated possession with 63% percent, and even though the Lions were out-shot 20-6, LA was unable to find a way to break through the defense.
Strategy Pays Off
Although it didn’t exactly go according to plan, Oscar Pareja deployed three defensive midfielders in his formation, using Junior Urso as a false winger, in place of Alexandre Pato, and inserting Sebas Mendez into the lineup to help Cesar Araujo lock things down in the middle. Urso had been getting into good attacking positions the last two games, and he could perhaps have had a secondary assist or two in this game if his pass-before-the-pass had been followed by a good cross from Ruan, so the strategy made sense. Urso won three fouls to lead all Lions in that department. Meanwhile, Mendez and Araujo did well to force things into wide areas. LA got 22 crosses in but Carlos and Jansson dealt with the majority of those. Pareja would have liked his team to have kept more of the ball to take some pressure off the back line and Gallese, but ultimately it worked anyway.
Lions Finally Break Through in California
The Lions achieved a club milestone Saturday, as they finally got their first win in the state of California. Prior to the match, the Lions were winless in six combined attempts on the road against the LA Galaxy (0-2-0), LAFC (0-1-0), and the San Jose Earthquakes (0-1-2). Watching this team hang on to get the win in a collective effort was fantastic and to frustrate the LA Galaxy by not giving up any goals from mistakes or counter-attacking chances just makes this win feel that much better.
These are the things that I saw from Saturday afternoon’s match-up. Let me know what you all thought in the comments below.