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Can Stats Help Us Better Understand Orlando City’s Nightmare Outing at Houston?

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What can we learn by looking at the statistics from an anomaly of a performance by the Lions against the Houston Dynamo? Let’s dive in.

MLS: Orlando City SC at Houston Dynamo Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Stats often tell the story of a game. Sometimes the numbers just show true domination by one team, which is reflected in the final score. Sometimes a game seems like it was an even match-up, and one finished (or unfinished) opportunity was the difference. Other times, you have to really read the stats to see how things worked out the way they did. Let’s dive right into those stats from Orlando City’s 4-0 loss at Houston last weekend.

Anyone who watched the match against Houston would rather forget they ever watched it. Of course, this type of performance was an outlier, and certainly not the norm for a team that has the quality of Orlando. Tired legs and little squad rotation, while not an excuse, definitely played a factor in the performance. The defense was spastic and the offense was non existent. If you hadn’t watched the game or seen the highlights, the stats could be a little misleading.

I think it would surprise most people that Orlando actually held more possession (57.2%), while attempting and accurately completing more passes than Houston. According to MLSsoccer.com, the Lions attempted 409 total passes, with an 82% completion rate, compared to the Dynamo, who attempted 107 fewer passes with a 75% rate of completion. In the final third of the pitch, Orlando completed 65% of its passes, which is 3% higher than its opponent. While not a huge difference, it is still more.

The point of possessing the ball is to create chances, and while having significantly less of the ball, Houston had no shortage of chances. The Dynamo were able to put 11 shots on target, while finishing four of them, compared to a measly four shots on goal total by Orlando, which finished none. So how was Houston able to create more chances while having less of the ball? The answer is simple: counter-attacking.

While Orlando was committing every player forward to get a goal and start a comeback, the Lions allowed themselves to be completely exposed in the back. The attacking trident for Houston had an absolute field day after Orlando gave up possession in the attacking third of the field. The advantage in fast breaks was held by Houston, with a score of 5-0, which were ultimately responsible for goals No. 3 and 4.

Moral of the story is if Orlando is going to have more of the ball, the Lions need to create more opportunities. While it would be shocking, and pretty upsetting, if this performance were to be repeated this season, the players need to take advantage of their time on the ball to make sure that doesn’t happen.