Orlando City hosted Charlotte FC for the first-ever match between the two clubs. It was Orlando City’s last MLS home match before an upcoming three-match road trip in league play, sandwiched around a May 10 home U.S. Open Cup game vs. the Philadelphia Union.
With the Lions coming off a difficult loss to the New York Red Bulls, the 2-1 victory over their Eastern Conference opponent was just what the doctor ordered. Here are our five takeaways from the match.
The Flash Factor
Ruan is known as one of the faster players in MLS and he showed that off in more ways than one against Charlotte FC. He was a menace on the right side of the pitch for the opponents, and ultimately made them pay with a goal and an assist. His assist could have been a second goal, but he smartly and generously passed the ball over to Facundo Torres instead.
He still needs work on his crosses, as the two he put in the air went right to Charlotte’s keeper, Kristijan Kahlina. However, the crosses that stayed on the ground were more effective and caused trouble for the Charlotte defenders. It was his best match of the season, and one of his best as a Lion.
The Beefy Swede Attacks
Ruan wasn’t the only Orlando City defender to get in on the attack. Robin Jansson made his presence known, pushing forward, creating chances and ultimately getting an assist. On the first goal, Jansson moved up through the midfield, provided the pass to Benji Michel on the left, maintained his run, and re-directed the cross to Ruan for the goal. He also had a shot of his own from a set piece, though he wasn’t able to convert the chance. Jansson’s ability to provide accurate long balls, and also press forward into the attack on the ground adds another attacking dimension for the Lions.
Tons of Torres
Torres brought a bunch of good stuff to the match against Charlotte FC, and honestly I don’t think it was close to all he can potentially do. Of course, the Uruguayan kept up with the speedy Ruan to score the second goal of the match. He also provided chances for his teammates, helped out on defense, and ranged all over the pitch in his efforts. This is how he plays best, and is why Pareja brought him in. They knew what type of player he is, and his style is being integrated into Pareja’s attack. He always seems to be on the ball, or moving to a good space to receive it. All that is needed now is more time for him to get even better.
The Lions received three yellow cards in the match. I use the word received as I don’t think all of them were earned. After scoring the first goal of the match, Ruan made his way to the Orlando City bench, took out a costume Flash mask and put it on to celebrate his goal. He was booked for doing so. In a league where if a supporter gives you a cowboy hat or sunglasses to celebrate, or if your head is wrapped in a bandage and you act like a mummy, providing your own props is evidently worthy of a yellow card. Fortunately, the card didn’t come back to haunt Ruan in this match, though it does add to his count.
The second yellow was Rodrigo Schlegel’s penalty that wasn’t a penalty and gave Charlotte FC its only goal of the match. It was at worst a soft foul that Alan Franco sold, but I don’t think it was worthy of a foul, a penalty, or a yellow card. Obviously, that one hurt, taking away Orlando City’s clean sheet. Jansson’s card late in second half stoppage time also hurt as he will now miss the next match at CF Montréal and came at the end of a play that should have resulted in an Orlando free kick in the attacking third, as Torres was held back by a defender who he’d beaten. Get ready to see what Thomas Williams can do for 90 minutes.
A Tale of Two Halves
Orlando City did well to weather Charlotte’s initial energy in the match, taking control and scoring the two goals. The Lions looked like the protagonists that Óscar Pareja wants his players to be. The passing was much improved from the previous match, three of the four shots were on target, and the Lions did what was needed on defense.
In the second half, Charlotte looked more lively, and was able to pressure Orlando City more effectively. Orlando City only managed one shot on target out of three attempts in the second half, and didn’t look quite as crisp. Regardless, the Lions were able to see it out in the end.
That is what I took away from the win over Charlotte FC. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.