The sample size is small, but Scott Sutter looks like a smart addition by Jason Kreis and Orlando City Soccer Club management. Sutter seemed to settle into his role in his second match for OCSC since arriving from Switzerland’s Young Boys. His performance against the New York Red Bulls gave Lions fans a glimpse at what the Swiss international is capable of defensively, and what he adds to Orlando’s attack.
Fans are well aware that bolstering the defense was Orlando’s number one priority this off-season and preseason. So far, the team has produced — good enough for two clean sheets and three goals allowed in the first four games.
Sutter had a disappointing debut in what turned out to be a game to forget for OCSC in Columbus. He was culpable in Columbus’ second goal of the game after coming on as a substitute. Orlando was caught on the counter-attack and a through ball found Justin Meram in space on Sutter’s right side. Sutter wasn’t at fault for the counter-attack or the through ball, but he fanned a hopeful leg at Meram’s change of direction before he slotted home his second of the match, ending any hopes Orlando had of stealing a point out of the game.
Kreis was critical of Sutter after the game, and rightfully so. That’s not the sort of defending you expect to see out of your right back in his own penalty area.
Sutter put that behind him and turned in a professional performance in his second appearance against the Red Bulls last Sunday. Sutter was part of a back four that kept danger in front of them for most of the game. Aside from the long ball to Bradley Wright-Phillips that Jonathan Spector had to clear off the line, Orlando’s defense looked compact and organized for most of the match. An early example was when Sutter kept a high line that caught Derrick Etienne offside after Wright-Phillips’ shot rebounded to him—little things that add up to fewer goals over the course of a season.
Sutter also contributed to Orlando going forward. He pushed up the field to support Orlando’s attack by adding width to a narrow 4-4-2 diamond formation. Sutter was available for an outlet pass from midfielders under pressure to help keep possession and added three crosses to the attacking effort. Carlos Rivas and Giles Barnes have been Orlando’s main providers of balls into the box, but those have come predominantly down the left side of Orlando’s attack. Sutter’s presence gave Orlando a more balanced attack with a threat from the right side.
Sutter also found space to create two shooting opportunities for himself. His first shot curled just over the crossbar, and his second rolled past the wrong side of Luis Robles’ right post. You can watch Sutter’s 42nd-minute shot in the video below (2:23):
While his efforts didn’t lead to any goals on the day, it was encouraging to see Sutter contribute to a solid defensive performance and chip in with the attacking effort as well.
Sutter’s attacking play is a nice bonus given the emphasis on stingy defensive performances. Orlando is in a great position at this point in the season, sitting in second place in the east. But the current model doesn’t seem sustainable. Orlando will need to be more dynamic in attack as the season progresses in order to ease some pressure off the defense. If Sutter continues to commit to support the attack and provide the necessary cover, then Orlando is one step closer to creating more attacking possession and opportunities as the team continues to improve offensively.