Orlando City vs. LA Galaxy: Player Grades and Man of the Match
Orlando City’s trip to Los Angeles took on added importance after fumbling away points at home to FC Cincinnati a week ago. The Lions have historically done poorly on the west coast, especially in the state of California, so I wasn’t too optimistic about them bringing points home, let alone three. Yet the team dug in and kept concentration throughout a tight, nervy affair, playing much of it in their own third. Orlando City’s 1-0 win over the Galaxy can be seen as a “makeup win” of sorts after the Cincinnati game, because fans may have expected those results to be reversed when looking ahead at the schedule.
Let’s get to the individual performances in a vital road victory.
GK, Pedro Gallese, 8 — Thanks to the team in front of him, El Pulpo wasn’t called on that often to make big saves, but he did so when needed. Much like the Lions at home against Cincy, the Galaxy weren’t sharp in the final third. Credit some of that to the defense, of course. Gallese finished with three saves. One was a good one on a shot through traffic by Chicharito. He couldn’t control the rebound, but it luckily was a bit out of Kevin Cabral’s reach for the put-back. He did well on a smashed shot/cross at the near post by Efrain Alvarez in the second half, sacrificing a sensitive part of his body to smother a dangerous ball in that could have gone anywhere. It wasn’t the Octopus’ best passing game at just 53.6% (and just 8/20 on long balls) but it was often a case of “anywhere will do,” and you don’t take chances on the road — especially with Chicharito on the field.
D, Joao Moutinho, 6 — This wasn’t the Portuguese left back’s strongest game, but he was asked to do a lot, leading the team in touches (68 — 11 more than the next closest Lion, Cesar Araujo) and being tasked with watching Douglas Costa and Alvarez. He had a couple of bad giveaways that led to chances, and he was roasted by Alvarez on the play mentioned above. Moutinho was dispossessed twice and had three bad touches. I didn’t like the yellow card, which came on a ball he won cleanly and his opponent got there late and got himself clipped on the follow through when he wasn’t abnormally extended. Some of his missteps come down to volume due to being on the ball so often. That doesn’t excuse his lack of connectivity in the final third — on one occasion he was indecisive about getting to the end line and got his cross blocked out for a corner. Still, Joao had two tackles, an interception, two clearances, and a blocked shot. He had one dribble and passed at an 85% rate, but was just 1-for-4 on long balls and 0-for-2 on crosses.
D, Robin Jansson, 6.5 — The Beefy Swede had a workmanlike effort, helping keep Chicharito and Cabral quiet in front. It wasn’t a perfect game, with Jansson passing at just 82.6%, which was the lowest on the back line. He was 2/4 on long balls but didn’t realease those really killer line-breaking passes we’re used to seeing and he was conservative about jumping into the play, which was probably by design. He blocked three shots and had three clearances to go with his two interceptions. He had the fewest touches of the back line players with a quietly solid performance.
D, Antonio Carlos, 8.5 (MotM) — The Brazilian defender had a monster game as the most active member of Orlando’s back line. He led all players with 14 clearances, winning vital balls in the air on a huge number of LA set pieces throughout the match. AC chipped in two tackles, an interception, and a blocked shot. His 50 touches were fourth most on the team, behind Moutinho and the double-pivot players — Araujo and Sebas Mendez. He had a great passing rate of 89.3%, with a lot of pressure in his face, and completed five of his eight long balls. He also attempted one of Orlando’s six shots, although the corner kick cross was behind him so he was unable to put it anywhere near the target.
D, Ruan, 6 — One of these days, Ruan’s going to have a fantastic day crossing the ball and it will be glorious. That wasn’t Saturday. Two extremely wasteful crosses perhaps cost the Lions a chance to put the game away. One was way behind his teammates and the other was too far in front. The speedy Brazilian was accurate on one of his three crosses and two were just awful, including one directly at the keeper with Facundo Torres and Ercan Kara in the process of beating their defenders in the box. That said, his passing rate was good (90%) and he did have the secondary assist on Torres’ goal with the pass to Kara. He had one tackle and one clearance but struggled to keep Cabral quiet or close down Victor Vazquez at times, and he gave up a dangerous set piece, although the yellow card was overkill by the referee. He had no shots or key passes.
MF, Sebas Mendez, 7 — The Ecuadorian got his first start of the season and was active, but there was a little rust showing at times with regard to positioning above his own penalty area. He did his job defensively, finishing with two tackles, an interception, two clearances, and a block. He passed well, as usual, at an 89.2% rate, hitting on one of his two long balls but was unsuccessful on his lone cross. He and Araujo helped funnel most of the LA attack to the wings and it was a good match overall for Mendez.
MF, Cesar Araujo, 7.5 — The kid in the central midfield just keeps on delivering. Araujo was active on defense against a good group of attackers, with a team-high three tackles to go with two interceptions and a clearance. His passing rate of 93.9% led all Lions who had at least five attempts and he was on the ball more than any Orlando player except Moutinho. Six of his seven long balls were accurate and he had one key pass. He had an opportunity to score his first MLS goal on the counter but the shot was deflected away at the last second. Araujo received his third yellow card in four matches, taking one for the team. His tactical foul to break up a late LA rush can largely be blamed on substitute Benji Michel trying to take on Julian Araujo one-on-one, and losing that battle, rather than taking the ball to the corner to run some clock. This score could have been higher but there were a couple of times he was a tad late closing down that could have prevented some entry balls.
MF, Facundo Torres, 7.5 — The Young Designated Player is just starting to settle in and get comfortable and now he’ll leave for the international window. Torres opened his account with a no-doubt-about-it headed finish after putting himself into the perfect space for Kara’s cross. He had two of Orlando’s six shots and one of the club’s two shots on target. Torres passed at an 81.3% clip, and was accurate on one of his two crosses and two of his five long balls. He contributed a tackle, two interceptions, and a clearance on defense. He also won an aerial. His three unstable touches were a slight blemish on an otherwise great outing.
MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 6 — It was another mixed game for the captain. Although he did some things well, there is just a bit of inconsistency marring his game right now. He continues to have at least one dangerous giveaway in his own end that is seemingly preventable. His passing rate of 76.5% isn’t good enough, and he went just 1-of-5 on long balls. He was dispossessed once and had three bad touches. And his set piece delivery was once again not precise enough. However, there were good things too. He created two scoring chances (a shared team high), was 1/2 on crosses and 1/2 on through balls, won a tackle, and drew two fouls on the opposition.
MF, Junior Urso, 6.5 — The Bear continues to do the selfless things on the field to help the team, even if sometimes those aren’t rewarded, such as when he unlocked the LA defense with a beautiful through ball for Ruan, only to see his fellow Brazilian waste the chance with a poor cross. Playing as a false wing, Urso helped divert the LA attack to the wider areas but was his usual pesky self, winning three fouls. He chipped in two tackles and two interceptions. His 81.5% passing rate was good considering he was playing a little further up the pitch, and he created two scoring chances and was a perfect 4/4 on long ball accuracy. I knocked a tiny bit off his grade for not getting a shot attempt (considering his position) and for being dispossessed three times, but it was yet another solid match for Urso.
F, Ercan Kara, 7 — Despite being isolated much of the match due to the huge disadvantage Orlando had in possession, it was a quality game from the Turkish-Austrian Designated Player. His first MLS assist set up the game-winning goal with an inch-perfect cross to Torres. He won three aerials, created a scoring chance, had one of Orlando’s six shot attempts, and won two fouls. His 66.7% passing rate seems low but it was a small sample size with only nine attempts. He helped out defensively with a pair of clearances and did well to press LA’s central midfielders into playing up the wings.
D, Kyle Smith (68’), 6 — El Soldado (or “The Accountant,” if you prefer) came on for Ruan and even though he was tasked with being solid defensively, he still managed to get one of Orlando’s two shots on target, although it was right at the goalkeeper. His passing rate of 71.4% wasn’t much to write home about but he did complete one of his three long balls. He provided one tackle and a clearance and the Lions’ right side seemed a bit calmer defensively after he came on.
F, Benji Michel (68’), 5.5 — Michel came on to spell Kara, providing fresh legs for a potential late counter opportunity at an insurance goal. Despite being on the pitch for only 22 minutes and five more of injury time, he still had three poor touches, including the one that allowed LA to counter and created the need for Araujo to take a tactical foul to slow down the attack. He completed seven of his nine passes, won an aerial and had a defensive zone clearance. He didn’t manage a shot or a key pass.
D, Rodrigo Schlegel (79’), N/A — The Argentinian defender came on for Pereyra to get an extra defender on the field and he basically ate up space and kept the middle of Orlando’s defensive third congested, but there’s not much to grade him on. He had only one touch of the ball, registered no defensive stats and was unsuccessful on his lone pass attempt. The change of shape did allow Orlando to prevent any late danger from the Galaxy, though.
F/MF, Tesho Akindele (84’), N/A — The Canadian wasn’t on the field long enough in relief of Torres to fairly evaluate, but he did his job over the final six minutes of normal time and five minutes of stoppage time. He managed seven touches and completed all four of his pass attempts to help the Lions eat up the remaining time.
That’s how I saw the performances in an important Orlando City road victory. Let me know where you think I got it right or wrong in the comments section and vote for your Man of the Match in the poll below.
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Lion Links: 6/5/23
Torres could be turning the corner, lights go out on OCB, U-20 USMNT knocked out of World Cup, and more.
Merry Monday morning, Mane Landers. It was quite the packed weekend of soccer, so I won’t blame you if you’re a little tired starting out your week. Orlando City’s victory over the New York Red Bulls was certainly the highlight, and I hope the Lions’ form continues next weekend when I come down to Exploria Stadium for the match against the Colorado Rapids. Let’s get to the links.
Torres Could Be Turning a Corner
Facundo Torres scored a brace in the match against the New York City Red Bulls on Saturday night, and perhaps it is the type of performance that will kick his season into gear. We saw the same thing last season, as Torres started slowly but came on in the second half of the season. Hopefully, Saturday’s match serves as notice he is about to do the same in 2023.
Torres’ two goals doubled his production on the season, with three of the four goals coming against the Red Bulls, and two of them on penalty kicks. Orlando City has desperately needed Torres to find his form. His performance earned him a nomination for MLS Player of the Matchday, so vote early and vote often.
Toronto FC II Turns Lights Out on OCB
OCB traveled to the Great White North to take on Toronto FC II at York Lions Stadium in Toronto, Ontario. It was a difficult night for the Young Lions as Toronto took an early lead and then doubled it before the end of the half. Mason Stajduhar made the start for OCB since Javier Otero was on international duty with Venezuela, but he was unable to help OCB, as the team in front of him played poorly.
After Toronto scored the third goal of the match to go up 3-0, the lights in the stadium went out, much like the hopes of any chance at a comeback for the Young Lions. It was supposed to be a short delay, but that was not the case. Ultimately, lights or no lights it was a night to forget for OCB. The lights never came back on and the match was abandoned and ruled a 3-0 final due to a local curfew. Sean Rollins has your partial match recap.
U-20 USMNT Crashes Out of the U-20 World Cup
The U-20 USMNT team lost 2-0 to Uruguay in the quarterfinal match of the FIFA U-20 World Cup, continuing a trend of the U.S. bowing out in the same round. Heading into the match, the U.S. hadn’t given up a goal in the competition. That all changed in the 21st minute, when Uruguay’s Anderson Duarte scored to put his side up early. The U.S. didn’t help their cause in the second half thanks to an own goal by Joshua Wynder. Even when the U.S. started to get chances on goal, they would be blocked by their own teammates or take a bounce the wrong way. It was as if all the good luck and quality the team played with to get to the quarterfinal was turned against them. It was fun while it lasted.
U-20 USWNT Falls to Mexico in Concacaf Final
Two days after qualifying for the U-20 Women’s World Cup, thanks to a 2-1 win over Costa Rica, the U-20 USWNT lost to Mexico in the Concacaf U-20 Women’s Championship match by the same 2-1 score. Both teams left it late, with Mailin Orozco starting the scoring for Mexico and Onyeka Gamero equalizing for the U.S. A bit of poor defending allowed Mexico to get the game winning goal from Fatima Servin in the 87th minute.
- The U-16 Men’s Youth National Team closed out the 2023 International Dream Cup with a 2-1 win over the U-16 Nigeria Youth National Team. Orlando City academy goalkeeper Zackory Campagnolo got the start for the U.S.
- Former Lion Cyle Larin’s Real Valladolid were relegated to La Liga 2 thanks to a final day 0-0 draw with Getafe. Larin Lead Real Valladolid with seven goals on the season in only 13 appearances.
- LAFC took on Leon in the second leg of the Concacaf Champions League final Sunday night. Leon came into the match up 2-1 on aggregate and won the 2023 Concacaf Champions League.
- During the Concacaf Champions League match, Aaron Long attempted a header for LAFC and had to be subbed off due to concussion protocols. It’s a good example of why the protocols are in place.
- Israel shocked Brazil, defeating the favorites 3-2 in the quarterfinal of the U-20 World Cup. This is Israel’s first appearance at the competition and the team will now face Uruguay in the semifinals.
- There were much bigger names in the $1 million, 7v7 The Soccer Tournament, but in the end it was Newtown Pride that captured the prize, outlasting teams like Wrexham AFC and a team made up of former USWNT players (which lost to Wrexham, 12-0). The club, which beat SLC FC in the final, will donate a portion of their winnings to Sandy Hook Elementary School charities.
- Folarin Balogun scored in his final match for Reims in Ligue 1 and is now looking forward to a call-up to the USMNT at the Nations League competition.
That will do it for today. If you make it either the Orlando City or Orlando Pride match this weekend, I hope to see you. Please say hello.
Orlando City at New York Red Bulls: Player Grades and Man of the Match
How did your favorite Lions perform in Orlando City’s 3-0 victory over the Red Bulls?
Orlando City went back on the road with a trip to Harrison, NJ, to take on the New York Red Bulls. The Lions were able to take advantage of their chances to secure all three points on the road with a 3-0 win over their Eastern Conference foes. Here is how each Lion performed as Orlando City swept the Red Bulls in the regular season.
GK, Pedro Gallese, 6.5 — Despite some sketchy moments, Gallese was able to keep his fourth clean sheet of the season, and his second against the Red Bulls. The scary moments started early, when Gallese came out for a 50/50 ball in the 12th minute but was beaten to it and caught out of goal. Fortunately, his defense was able to help him recover. He also nearly gave away the ball in the 85th minute, when he was slow to pass and was closed down by Elias Manoel. The New York forward blocked the pass, but it went out for a goal kick. Gallese took an awkward foul from Dylan Nealis in the 82nd minute, but was able to carry on. His distribution wasn’t as good as usual, with a 68.8 % passing rate on 32 passes. He was accurate on seven of his 16 long balls. He also won one aerial and made one clearance. It wasn’t a bad night for El Pulpo, but I hold him to a higher standard, despite the clean sheet.
D, Rafael Santos, 6 — With Halliday on international duty and Kyle Smith starting on the right, Santos got his third straight start of the season. I don’t know that he’s had enough time to properly settle in, but he didn’t play poorly. Santos passed at a 59.5% on 42 passes, which isn’t good enough, but it was his first real taste of the Red Bulls’ pressure. He was only successful on two of his eight long balls. Defensively, he was a bit better, with three tackles, three interceptions, and two clearances. He committed two fouls, one of which earned him a yellow card.
D, Robin Jansson, 7 — Jansson was good if not perfect on defense. The bad was a foul on Luquinhas just inches outside of the box in the 32nd minute, resulting in a dangerous free kick. Fortunately, the resulting free kick went into the wall and was recycled until it went out for a goal kick. It was one of two fouls committed by the Beefy Swede, with the other being unnecessary contact with the goalkeeper on a set piece, for which he was booked. Defensively, he made one interception, two clearances, and blocked three shots, including one from Lewis Morgan that probably would have gone in without his intervention. He had an 80% passing rate on 50 passes, but only completed one of his seven long balls. Offensively, he had one dribble, and suffered three fouls, including one in which he was pulled down by Sean Nealis in the 49th minute, earning the penalty for Orlando City that Facundo Torres buried in the back of the net.
D, Antonio Carlos, 6.5 — Carlos seemed slightly off on the night, though it never came back to hurt Orlando City. He was beaten in the 14th minute trying to play out of the back, resulting in a corner for the Red Bulls. However, he cleared the ensuing corner kick. He made a bad pass in the 26th minute that simply went out of bounds rather than to a teammate, and he had a poorly taken free kick in the 37th minute to the opposition. However, defensively he had one interception, two clearances, and one blocked shot. Fortunately, he did not commit any fouls or receive a yellow card, because if he had, he would miss the next match due to accumulation. Offensively, he had one dribble, and suffered one foul. He passed at an 84.6% rate on 52 passes and was successful on six of 12 long balls.
D, Kyle Smith, 6 — Smith had a difficult assignment in dealing with John Tolkin on his side of the field. He managed one tackle, two clearances, and one blocked shot, while committing two fouls. Unlike last week, he wasn’t able to score on a goal from the right despite being put in a good position by Facundo Torres in the 42nd minute. He should have done better with a shot that went wide left. He had an 84.2% passing rate on 38 passes and was successful on three of his four long balls before coming off for Dagur Dan Thorhallsson in the 83rd minute.
MF, Mauricio Pereyra, 5.5 — Like Carlos, Pereyra wasn’t his usual sharp self, passing at just a 57.1% rate on 21 passes and completing no long balls. His pass to Kara in the box in the 16th minute could have sent the striker in on goal, but it was behind the Austrian. His free kick at the end of first-half stoppage time was too long and led to Jansson’s yellow as the defender tripped the keeper. Offensively, the captain completed one dribble, suffered one foul, and was dispossessed once. He was subbed off in the 62nd minute for Martin Ojeda.
MF, Cesar Araujo, 6.5 — Araujo seemed to have gotten the message that he won’t get the foul if he drops at the slightest touch. He did successfully earn one foul, but it was deserved. Defensively, he made one tackle, one clearance, and had one blocked shot. He passed at an 82.8% rate on 29 passes and completed five of his six long balls. Unfortunately he was subbed off in the 56th minute due to an injury for Felipe Martins.
MF, Wilder Cartagena, 7.5 — The Peruvian midfielder had himself a night, earning an assist on Ivan Angulo’s goal to open the scoring for the Lions. His perfectly weighted through ball put Angulo in on goal in the 18th minute. He passed at an 84.1% rate on 44 passes, was successful on four of seven long balls, and had the key pass mentioned above. He committed three fouls, including one on Cory Burke in the 20th minute to give New York a free kick, but it didn’t matter. He also made nine tackles and one clearance. Overall, a very good night from Cartagena, who does a lot of the unsung work to break up the opposition’s attack.
MF, Ivan Angulo, 8 (MotM) — There have been times when Angulo tries to do too much when taking on an opposing player. That wasn’t the case in the 18th minute, when he took the through ball from Cartagena, juked Dylan Nealis and sent the ball past Carlos Coronel to give Orlando City the early leave. That was one of his two shots — both of which were on target. The other shot was deflected for a corner in the 65th minute. It was his breakaway run up the left side of the pitch in the 73rd minute that gave him his assist on Facundo Torres’ second goal. Out-running Frankie Amaya, the speedy Angulo drew defenders to him before passing the ball over to Torres for the third goal of the match. It was a good finish by Torres, but Angulo did most of the work to make it happen. He passed at an 85.7% rate on 21 passes with the obvious key pass and completed three successful dribbles. He also suffered two fouls, committed three fouls, made two tackles, and recorded one interception. With a goal and an assist, Angulo gets Man of the Match.
MF, Facundo Torres, 7.5 — Might this be the match that lights Torres up for the remainder of the season? I’m certain that is what was going through the minds of many as he stepped up to take the penalty kick in the 52nd minute. Torres converted the penalty kick with a perfectly placed shot into the upper right corner past Coronel, despite the keeper guessing correctly. He then made the run with Angulo in the 72nd minute and was perfectly positioned to get his second goal of the match, giving the Lions a certain victory. He wasn’t done yet, as he had another chance in the 77th minute, but it was blocked out for a corner. Torres passed at an 84.6% rate on 26 passes. He had three crosses, one key pass, and was successful on his only long ball. One of his underrated contributions was a nice move to push the ball past Andres Reyes in first-half stoppage time. Torres would have been in position to start a dangerous counter but Reyes fouled him hard. The play was reviewed as a possible red card, and even though Victor Rivas did not change the initial ruling of a yellow card, the play contributed to Reyes being sent off just after halftime.
F, Ercan Kara, 5.5 — The Austrian wasn’t able to have as much impact on this game as he has in recent weeks against one of the league’s best defenses, but his positioning was good. His best scoring chance went wanting when Pereyra played the final pass behind him. His biggest contribution was when he showed a good combination of skill and strength to bring down an aerial ball and fend off Reyes, who committed a tactical foul for a second yellow card and was sent off. Reyes has been New York’s biggest surprise this season with his aerial presence on both ends of the pitch and the Red Bulls missed him for the final 43 minutes, plus stoppage time. Kara didn’t record a shot or a key pass, passing at a 64.3% rate. He led all Lions with three aerials won and drew two fouls. However, he was dispossessed once and had four unstable touches trying to hold up play against New York’s swarming defense. On the defensive end, Kara contributed one clearance. He also committed one foul. He came off for Duncan McGuire in the 63rd minute.
MF, Felipe (57’), 6.5 — The Brazilian came on for the injured Araujo against his former team and proceeded to be his usual disruptive self, making one interception, blocking a shot, and committing one foul. He was impressive in the passing game, with a 95.7% rate on 23 passes, including a successful long ball. He committed one foul that earned him a yellow card.
MF, Martin Ojeda (62′), 6 — Ojeda came on for Pereyra to bring some more energy to the midfield. He did that. He attempted one shot, but hit it into the ground and it bounced high. To be fair, it was a difficult attempt as the ball was bouncing when he took the shot. He also put in two crosses (one successful) and passed at a 90.9% rate on his 11 passes, including one key pass, playing a ball into space for Angulo to run onto, leading to the third Orlando goal. As a result, he got a secondary assist on the play. Defensively, he contributed one tackle, one interception, and one clearance.
F, Duncan McGuire (63′), 6 — McGuire wasn’t able to get a goal contribution, though it wasn’t from lack of effort. The rookie took one shot, which was on target, had a key pass, and completed two dribbles, and his hold-up play was good. He did all of that while only touching the ball nine times. He passed at a 50% rate on four passes. It might not seem like much, but he helped Orlando see out the win.
D, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson (84′), N/A — Dagur Dan came on for Smith to play right back since he is the other Swiss Army Knife for Oscar Pareja. He wasn’t in long enough for a grade, but did manage six touches, and won an aerial.
MF, Ramiro Enrique (84′), N/A — Enrique came on for Cartegena but only managed 12 touches, committed one foul, and suffered one foul. Like McGuire, Enrique wasn’t in long enough to earn a grade.
That’s how I saw each performance from the Lions in their 3-0 win over the New York Red Bulls. This match was an example of what can happen when the Lions take advantage of limited chances. Who was your Man of the Match? Make sure to vote in our poll and let us know what you think in the comments.
Orlando City vs. New York Red Bulls: Five Takeaways
Here’s what we learned from a total team effort on the road in the Big Apple.
HARRISON, NJ — Orlando City was back on the road this weekend in the city that never sleeps (or at least in the general vicinity), taking on a familiar foe for the second time this season, and I was fortunate enough to be there in person. The Lions opened up the 2023 Major League Soccer season with a win against the Red Bulls and continued their great form on the road this season with a 3-0 win over New York on Saturday. Here are my five takeaways from a great away-from-home victory.
Head Coach Oscar Pareja utilized the same starting 11 for consecutive matches for the first time this season and the team chemistry that has been developing over the last few weeks was on full display. Orlando is still fighting through some injuries and players missing time for international duty, but it appears that Pareja has found a formation and combination of players that is starting to consistently produce the types of results most felt like the team would be capable of to start the season.
Angulo’s Speed A Big Problem
Winger Ivan Angulo has never been shy about taking on opponents in the open field. Saturday evening his tool kit was on full display as he literally and figuratively ran circles around the opposition. In the 18th minute of the match, Angulo found himself on the end of an absolutely beautiful through ball from Wilder Cartagena, sprinted into the box, and made an outstanding cut back to dodge Dylan Nealis before snipping the ball into the back of the net for the first goal of the match and his third of the season. It was a wonderful effort in a game that saw Angulo win the club’s Man of the Match award, but the goal wasn’t his only contribution to the scoresheet. The speedy winger also contributed an assist in the 72nd minute, as Angulo did most of the heavy lifting for Facundo Torres’ second goal. He used his pace to blast past Frankie Amaya in transition to get onto Martin Ojeda’s transition ball, drew defenders toward him, and found Torres with a well-placed pass on Orlando’s third goal.
Welcome Back, Facu!
It had been a sluggish start to the season for Young Designated Player Facundo Torres, coming off the heels of a first MLS campaign which saw the young star take the league by storm. Lofty expectations have been thrust onto the Uruguayan midfielder, and for most of this season Torres has fallen short of what many believed he was capable of. Against a team that Torres loves to score against, he doubled his season total for goals scored and at least for the night looked to be back playing at a pace and with a quality we have all grown to expect. Only time will tell if his brace against New York is the true turning point of the season, but at least for now it appears that Orlando’s star is back shining.
A Series of Fortunate Events
The Lions started the second half with a one-goal lead, and thanks to a series of fortunate events to start the second half found themselves with some breathing room in the match. Orlando quickly went up a man just two minutes after the break, as Andres Reyes was sent off for picking up a second yellow card for a professional foul when Ercan Kara did well to control an aerial ball and got behind the defense on the left side. Reyes pulled Kara back to break up the counterattack, which is always going to draw a booking. Orlando City then got an opportunity to score an insurance goal when referee Victor Rivas was instructed by the VAR to take a second look at a play in the box and saw that Sean Nealis had dragged down Robin Jansson just as the ball was arriving. Rivas correctly awarded Orlando City a penalty kick, and Torres blasted the PK into the back of the net. Seemingly in the blink of an eye, two (correct) calls completed changed the trajectory of the match. The work of Kara and Jansson to get into those positions created those calls.
Road Lions Pounce Again
Orlando City has put together some excellent results on the road this season, and while some may still feel that a 2-1 away win earlier in the year against the Philadelphia Union to be the best road result of the year, I would strongly consider the thumping of the Red Bulls in northern New Jersey to usurp that as the best road result thus far. It was a total team effort at a point in the season where Orlando truly needed this type of result. The team has talked in recent weeks about how they feel they have the quality when they take the pitch but that the results have been lagging behind as the boys have had to settle for a few late draws. They would leave no question unanswered against a Red Bulls defense that had only allowed 10 goals on the season entering the match. It was a resounding road effort which the team will hopefully continue to build upon.
Those are my big takeaways from a great win on the road and a match that I will surely be rewatching multiple times this week. Let us know in the comments below what stood out to you the most!
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