Wow. Just wow. That Orlando City match was honestly some exciting viewing. The Lions scored three goals in the first 45 minutes and were then able to hang on to the 3-0 lead for the rest of the 90. Thanks to that performance, the team will be bringing three big road points home before 25 days off from Major League Soccer play.
Let’s take a look at what else Orlando City can takeaway from Saturday’s win.
Nani Nails the Penalty Kick
He did it, he did it! Nani converted a PK!
After missing two penalties in the last two matches, Orlando City captain Nani wasn’t about to miss the early opportunity he was given thanks to a handball in the box. Instead of the often unsuccessful stutter step, Nani went with a more traditional run up. He put his right foot through the ball and slammed it past Impact goalkeeper Evan Bush into the bottom left corner. It was Nani’s eighth goal of the season and number 100 in his career and is sure to build up some of the confidence from the spot that may have eroded a bit after the last two matches. Congratulations, o capitão!
Tesho Akindele Proving Himself
With Dom Dwyer unavailable due to a hamstring injury (listed as day-to-day, per Jordan Culver of ProSoccerUSA.com), Akindele again started in the center forward position. The Canadian international and former FC Dallas bench warmer has taken some flak on the interwebs from a vocal minority of Orlando City fans. Personally, I’ve thought it’s mostly been unwarranted and I’m really happy to see him playing well for the Lions. He’s now second in goals this season, as his 36th-minute strike put him at five goals with one assist throughout 756 minutes in 11 appearances. Considering he’s not the primary striker when he plays with Dwyer, those numbers show that Akindele has been an offensive asset this season. He put a great shot on goal in the 25th minute as well — one that Bush had to make a diving save on. I’m sure that the critics will say Akindele should have put the 71st minute shot in the net, and the Canadian would no doubt say the same. Akindele may not ever be a world-beater, but his presence has absolutely helped Orlando City.
Another Solid Game From Will Johnson
While we’re on the unnecessary hate train, I have to admit that I’m someone who has been anti-Will Johnson for most of his time in purple. His consistently quiet yet impacting midfield play this campaign has me eating my words. Johnson’s averaging an 86% passing accuracy and 43 passes in addition to 1.9 tackles per game. He can be added to the offensive stat sheet too, having scored the third goal off a beautiful 42nd-minute diving header on Saturday.
The insane give-and-go passing between Chris Mueller and Joao Moutinho was a glory to behold for sure. Without Johnson’s hustle, Bush’s punch out is easily cleared and the game remains 2-0. He may not be the flashiest or a superstar, that’s true. I now know that I’ll take his steadiness and experience on this Orlando City team any day.
The Defense Might Be Good?
Orlando City has allowed only two shots on target in the last two matches and only two goals in the last three matches. While the one shot the Galaxy managed to get on target last week went in, and ultimately dealt the Lions a home loss, the Impact were not as fortunate. Brian Rowe came up huge on a late strike by Saphir Taider to preserve the clean sheet. While Taider’s goal would merely have been a cosmetic one, had he scored it, the Lions’ much maligned back line and Rowe himself will appreciate the shutout. Orlando has allowed only 13 shot attempts in total over the last two games beyond the two that actually hit the target. James O’Connor appears to have found his best starting four in Moutinho, Robin Jansson, Lamine Sané, and Ruan.
For all the good Ruan has done up the right side this year — and that’s a considerable amount — it was the left side that led Orlando past the Impact. All three of City’s goals started on the left side. The penalty for the handball came off a corner kick from the left, so maybe that’s cheating a little. But the second goal was fashioned on Cristian Higuita’s steal and feed to Chris Mueller on the left. Cash’s excellent cross from the left gave Akindele an easy tap-in at the back post. The third goal by Johnson came from a barrage of more than 20 consecutive passes that pretty much utilized the entire left side of the field before the final cross from Moutinho that was swatted only as far as Johnson’s noggin. With teams starting to pay more attention to Ruan as he gets better known throughout the league, it’s important for Orlando to be able to also find success from the other side and they did that yesterday.
That’s how we saw the match on Saturday. What stuck out to you? Hit us up in the comments section below.