Orlando City headed to Music City to take on Nashville SC. To be perfectly honest I predicted a loss on The Mane Land PawedCast, so I am not disappointed that the Lions came away with a point on the road after a 1-1 draw. What can we learn from a draw that feels like a win, but still left us wanting more?
For the first 30 minutes of the match, Orlando City seemingly forgot how to use their feet to control the ball. Whether it was the heavy first touch from a pass, a heavy first touch as a player started upfield, or simply not touching the ball at all, and letting Nashville have it, the Lions couldn’t control the ball to save a life. To be fair, it was a very wet pitch, but Nashville didn’t seem to have the same problem. Joey DeZart in particular was not good on the ball, though players like Silvester van der Water, and Mauricio Pereyra also had some tough touches.
From the very start, Orlando City was under pressure from a pressing Nashville SC. This resulted in way too many giveaways early on, which resulted in twice as many shots (10 to 5) and shots on target (4 to 2) for Nashville. It also resulted in a breakaway goal with CJ Sapong feeding Hany Mukhtar for the opening score of the match. Nashville’s press combined with Orlando City’s bad passes and first touches, resulted in utter domination from the home team to start the match.
Starting around the 35th minute, the Lions started playing themselves into the match. Before that it had been all Nashville, but after the first goal the Lions hung in and eventually were able to turn the tide. Frankly, it was odd, but Nashville either went away from what was successful, or Orlando was finally able to flip the switch to be better with the ball. Either way, it resulted in Orlando City’s equalizer in the 58th minute. In fact, until the 75th minute or so, the Lions actually were the protagonists that Óscar Pareja wanted them to be.
This Time Antonio Carlos Saw the Ball Go In
We all remember when Antonio Carlos suffered a blow to the head when scoring his last goal against Inter Miami CF. This time he was able to head the ball into the goal without the accompanying injury. That goal ultimately earned Orlando City a point against Nashville. It all started with a spot-perfect chip from Mauricio Pereyra on a free kick in the 58th minute. It was a well-earned goal that was seemingly always coming for the Lions by that point in the match.
To end the match, Pareja brought on two additional defenders in Ruan and Emmanuel Mas in the 89th minute. But it was a bit unconventional. Ruan played at the top of the formation, which could have paid off if the Lions could have gotten the right ball to him in space with his pace. Mas helped solidify the left side late.
When you are on the road against a hot team like Nashville, and you are even that late in the match, a point is more than enough. It is tough to win road matches in MLS. Given Nashville’s record at home, earning a draw after going down a goal in the first half is nothing to be disappointed about. Despite early difficulties dealing with Nashville’s attack, the Lions were able to turn it around and get a result on the road.
That is what I saw in the match, but let me know your thoughts in the comments below.