How did Philadelphia strike first against Orlando City in Monday night’s 1-1 draw? What was the breakdown? Orlando City had just about taken the lead on an Antonio Carlos header, only to see Andre Blake get a touch on it to send it crashing off the crossbar. Seconds later, the ball was in the net at the other end.
Let’s take a look at how that happened.
Uri’s Yellow Card was Meaningless
The sequence began with a restart from midfield. Uri Rosell had just been forced to pull back Brenden Aaronson on the break after a Nani turnover. Sebas Mendez threw the ball in to the captain and Nani dribbled forward. He was pressured and tried to feed Mauricio Pereyra, who he expected to cut across, in front of his own mark. That didn’t happen and instead the ball was fed directly back to Philadelphia and then on to Aaronson on a one-touch pass. Rosell took the booking for the team but he might as well not have, as things turned out.
The Union began with a quick back pass from the middle to their right to start the play, with Jamiro Monteiro sending it back to Jack Elliott, who quickly sent a square ball to Mark McKenzie. The defender sent a ball forward to Warren Creavalle, who one-touched to left back Kai Wagner. The fullback also sent the ball along with his first touch, sending it in behind Ruan to Aaronson. This quick sequence of one-touch passing caught Orlando by surprise and essentially served as a de facto transition counterattack, catching Nani, Tesho Akindele, Mauricio Pereyra, and Chris Mueller behind the play and struggling to catch up. At this point, the Union had everyone pouring forward except Elliott, McKenzie, and the goalkeeper (and perhaps right back Ray Gaddis), while the Lions had six outfield players back, along with goalkeeper Pedro Gallese.
Carlos picked up Aaronson in the channel and pressured him, so Aaronson cut back out toward the top of the area. Ruan attempted to come over and double team the Union midfielder but was either not running full speed or took a bad angle, and Aaronson maintained possession. Rosell came over to support Carlos and forced Aaronson to give up the ball. Sebas Mendez was vaguely marking Monteiro, who was out near the top of the semicircle — more playing a passing lane than a man, really — but that left room for a square ball across the top of the area. Once Aaronson made that pass to Alejandro Bedoya, there was always going to be a good scoring opportunity for Philadelphia.
When the ball arrived at Bedoya’s feet, Robin Jansson and Joao Moutinho were left with three players to defend — Bedoya, Ilsinho out wide on the Union’s right side, and Monteiro, who had followed the play from the top of the semicircle toward the right. Both Rosell and Mendez were now behind the play on the Union’s left, while Nani, Akindele, Pereyra, and Mueller were all still further up field and of no help.
Moutinho couldn’t simply let Bedoya pick out his spot from the top of the area and rushed out to pressure the USMNT midfielder. Jansson had his eye on Philly striker Kacper Przybylko, who was between the beefy Swede and Carlos, who had by this time recovered his positioning after defending Aaronson.
Bedoya could either dribble or pass and opted to send the ball outside to Ilsinho on the right. Once the ball was there, Orlando had no way to get anyone out to pressure him. Jansson drifted to his left but also had to be wary of both Bedoya and Monteiro making runs into the box. Ilsinho had little angle to shoot and faced a good goalkeeper in Gallese. But with that much space to pick his spot, the Brazilian made a perfect shot with power, sending a low drive off the inside of the far post to open the scoring.
The entire sequence from restart to ball crossing the goal line took 18 seconds.
- 67:00 — Monteiro kicks the ball to Elliott to restart the game.
- 67:01 — Elliott receives the ball, takes a beat and sends it to McKenzie.
- 67:03 — McKenzie receives the pass from Elliott, sees Pereyra closing and passes forward to Creavalle.
- 67:05 — Creavalle makes a one-touch pass to Wagner.
- 67:07 — Wagner makes a one-touch pass to Aaronson.
- 67:09 — Aaronson receives the pass from Wagner, then reverses direction to the corner of the box.
- 67:13 — Aaronson feels Rosell’s pressure and sends the ball across to Bedoya.
- 67:15 — Bedoya receives the ball, feels Moutinho’s pressure, and sends it wide for Ilsinho.
- 67:17 — Ilsinho takes a slightly heavy touch, which worsens his angle slightly, but gathers himself for the shot.
- 67:18 — Ilsinho fires low and hard, just inside the left goal post and the ball crosses the line.
- 67:19 — The ball bulges the back of the net off the ricochet and Orlando fans and players are very unhappy.
Here’s the highlight clip, which begins just after Creavalle released his one-touch pass to Wagner on the left flank.
Soccer can be a cruel sport. When the restart happened, there was no way for Orlando’s attacking players to think there would be any danger on a free kick from midfield — especially one played backward. This led the Lions’ front line to not hustle back defensively and by the time there was imminent danger, it was too late for them to recover.
The play also shows how quickly Philadelphia can manufacture a goal out of nowhere. The Union counter was lethal in the previous MLS is Back matches and clinical as well. I had noticed this, and it was one of my concerns entering the match. But it’s one thing to turn the game around off a turnover and counter, and another thing entirely to go from dead ball in the center circle to goal in 18 seconds.
Still, even with everything Philadelphia did right on the play, and all that was going against Orlando City once the Union created the overload on Philly’s right side, it still took something special from Ilsinho to get the ball past Gallese.
Hopefully Orlando City will learn from that goal conceded and be more alert in the future.