Orlando City hosted New York City FC at Exploria Stadium, and it unfortunately ended in a draw, just as it has for four of the the last five matches between the two clubs. This was Orlando City’s first big challenge against an Eastern Conference opponent. Honestly, the Lions seemed to have the better of the match for the most part, but it still ended 1-1. What can we take away from Orlando City’s third draw of the season?
Nani won the MLS Goal of the Week for his goal against FC Cincinnati. He was up for the award for his cheeky back heel the week before against Sporting KC. He’ll most certainly be in contention again this week with his beautiful shot to give Orlando City the lead in the 52nd minute. Nani continued his run of good form to start the season, helping direct the offense, and coaching on the pitch. He’s played a ton of minutes, but seems to have energy to burn, and there’s no doubting his impact on the Orlando City offense given he has three of the Lions’ five goals so far this season. He still occasionally gives away the ball when he tries something that doesn’t work, but you take the bad with the good when it comes to Nani, and the good is way outweighing the bad.
João Moutinho hasn’t been back long. He only came on to start the second half due to the injury to Ruan. Unfortunately, the youngster committed the foul that doomed Orlando City to end this match the way so many others have against NYCFC — in a draw. We spoke about the need to deal with Taty Castellanos on The Mane Land Pawedcast, but it was moreso in the run of play that we were worried, not when taking a penalty kick. Moutinho didn’t play poorly, and everyone makes a bad play every once in a while.
Sometimes I write about what impacts a match for the Takeaways, but this time I’m going to mention something that didn’t have an impact. Both Michael and I were concerned about Orlando City defending set pieces against NYCFC. The Pigeons scored all their goals against FC Cincinnati on set pieces, and as you’re most likely all too aware, the Lions haven’t been the best at defending set pieces. It turns out that in this particular match, it ended up not being a concern.
The Second Half Press
All season, the Lions have looked better when pressing high. That was the case again on Saturday night. Throughout the first half, both teams were testing the other, looking for a way into the final third. It was a back-and-forth match without much to show for it. That changed in the second half, when Oscar Pareja must have reminded his players that they are supposed to be protagonists, and they started pressing more. The result was the club taking back possession more often, and creating more offense.
EL Pulpo’s Duo
There were two instances during the match where NYCFC broke through the defense, leaving Pedro Gallese one on one with the attacker. Both times, Gallese came out and blocked the shots. He blocked both goals in nearly the same manner. The first one came when Castellanos got on the end of a beautiful pass to give NYCFC their best chance of the first half. Gallese calmly came out and put himself in a position to block the shot. Seconds before the end of the match, Jesús Medina slipped in after an Orlando City giveaway to take the final shot of the match. Once again, the Octopus made the right decision and made a difficult save look easy. He might not have saved the penalty kick, but his play made the difference between saving a point and coming away with nothing.
That’s what I observed in the match. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.