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Tactical Breakdown: Orlando City Changed Game with Hard Work vs Sporting Kansas City

Orlando City outworked a Sporting KC team on Sunday Night. We explore the three game changers for Orlando City.

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando City shocked MLS on Sunday when the Lions defeated Western Conference power Sporting Kansas City 3-1 on Sunday night. City was the more industrious team, dictating the play and pressuring SKC in their half of the field.

Winter is Here

In his fifth match for Orlando City, Adrian Winter finally looks comfortable in the lineup. Winter got Orlando on the score sheet with an early goal off a set piece, which he set up by drawing a foul. Winter made a run to the back post on the ensuing free kick, was completely unmarked, and he slyly headed home the goal.

The other thing that Winter did very well was keep the game simple and switch the field. He also moved well without the ball. After almost every one of his passes, he made a run into space to get the next ball. Take the third goal, for example. Bryan Rochez out-works the Sporting KC defender and plays the ball back to Winter.

This is where Winter does a simple give-and-go pass that breaks down three defenders.

Winter finishes the ball near post as the Sporting KC keeper is out of position.

Super Subs: The Return of Shea and Rochez

Adrian Heath looked like the mastermind manager, bringing on Brek Shea and Rochez in the second half and both changed the match. Shea was brought on to a standing ovation from the Citrus Bowl crowd after being out since late June. He brings a consistent and unselfish play that Carlos Rivas (among others) hasn't been able to deliver. On Rochez's goal, you can see Shea is a pass-first player, whereas Rivas would probably have tried to hit a screamer. Shea looked a little rusty, but was able to slide a ball across for Rochez to bury.

The whole play is started with Rochez making a play on a long ball over the top. He heads it on to Shea.

Shea then has the choice to shoot, where he might be able to nip one in at the back post, or slide it across.

Rochez makes a 25- to 30-yard run and he gets the reward with the finish. Note the technique he displays to get his body over the ball and uses the side of the foot to place the ball back where it came from while the keeper is coming across. This exactly how you teach finishing a ball in this situation.

The Takeaways

Rochez replaced a road weary Cyle Larin, who has played 180 minutes of World Cup qualifiers in the last two weeks. Larin is the starting striker, but I think you will see Heath have a shorter leash on the Canadian rookie if he is not effective. Rochez looked like he belonged on the field Sunday and he out-worked every player on the field that night. Managers notice the hard work like we saw from Winter, Shea, and Rochez, and Heath will look for them to be a spark in the last few matches.

Orlando City has another must-have match against the Chicago Fire on Saturday. If the Orlando City of the last month shows up, the Lions don't stand a chance. The thing is, if this team works as hard as they did against Sporting KC, then they have a chance to get a result.