Orlando City

Orlando City at Atlanta United FC: Five Takeaways

Here’s what we learned from Orlando City’s 2-0 loss at Atlanta.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City traveled North to the unfriendly confines of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and unfortunately the Lions’ early season woes continued as Orlando City fell 2-0 to their Eastern Conference rival. What did we learn from the disappointing third loss of the MLS regular season?

Troubling Transition Defending

Orlando City employed a high press to start the match, and the defense often didn’t recover well enough to keep Atlanta honest. The first goal the Lions gave up came on a quick break by Atlanta that saw Saba Lobjanidze beat Rafael Santos and Pedro Gallese to score the first goal of the match. There were several other times that Atlanta moved the ball quickly into the attack, though Robin Jansson was able to sniff out the others in the first half. Atlanta didn’t stop that type of attack, and a second goal resulted.

Double Volley Saves

Pedro Gallese made back-to-back reaction saves to keep Atlanta from getting a second goal to end the first half. Gallese also made other saves that weren’t credited because a foul preceded the save. He may have been caught flat-footed on the first goal, but he had his near post covered, and after that, he was quite good. It was funny seeing the reactions online after the first goal calling for him to be replaced. Thankfully, Oscar Pareja isn’t checking social media during matches and taking his directives from frustrated fans. Gallese had no chance on Atlanta’s second goal.

Beefy Swede Comes Up Big

Jansson was an absolute beast. He singlehandedly stopped multiple Atlanta United attacks in the first half and to start the second half. He did receive a yellow in the 49th minute, as the opposition prevented him from restarting the match quickly and he grew frustrated trying to grab the ball. But then he kept doing everything Orlando City needed. Of course, it’s easy to see the defending he does, but it’s all the other things as well — his passing to work the ball out of the back, and his leadership to organize the defense and, ultimately, the rest of the team. He was a commanding and calming captain in this match.

Possession Schmosession

Orlando City had the advantage of possession in the match. For long stretches, the Lions looked to be in control of the match. Two moments were all Atlanta United needed to ensure that Orlando City went home with no points. The Lions took a bit to grow into the match, but even once they did, the last bit of quality was missing. Duncan McGuire was a step too late on a couple of opportunities. Dagur Dan Thorhallsson took an extra touch when Muriel dropped a ball for him in the box. It was another frustrating night on offense.

The Missing Midfield

Have no doubt that the absence of Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena made a difference in how this match played out. Sadly, I predicted that with Orlando City’s two starting defensive midfielders out, Pareja might employ Kyle Smith in the role. I wish I had been wrong. It’s not that Smith was particularly bad, but without the normal excellent double pivot combo of Araujo and Cartagena, Orlando City was out of sorts. Cartagena will be back, having served his red card suspension, and we wait on Araujo’s injury to heal up as he continues to be listed as questionable.

That is what I saw in the loss to Atlanta United. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.


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