Orlando City hosted the Philadelphia Union in Exploria Stadium, with the Eastern Conference leaders winning a controversial match by a score of 1-0. Daniel Gazdag provided the game’s only goal and although the Lions did a lot of things well, they did a lot of other things unwell.
Here’s what I took away from the match.
The Offside Goal That Wasn’t a Goal and Then Was
Philadelphia’s goal in the 39th minute was surrounded by controversy. As I watched it, I thought it was a goal. An offside call on the field by the assistant referee seemed to negate it. Video assistant referee Jair Marrufo rightly took a look at it, and alerted referee Alex Chilowicz, who agreed that Ruan kept Gazdag onside and Philadelphia was awarded the goal. Taking off my Orlando City glasses, I think it was a goal and ultimately the correct call. However, there are others on our staff that felt there wasn’t enough to overturn the call on the field. It really does illustrate how “clear and obvious” isn’t always clear and obvious to everyone. Regardless, it gave the Union the lead in the first half.
The Moutinho Difference
I’m a well-known Kyle Smith fan, but he hasn’t been great lately, while filling in for João Moutinho. The team’s starting left back was back on the pitch and he was active and effective right from the start. He stood up Union players, made clearances and interceptions, and generally was a nuisance for the Union. Of course, Moutinho is better at making his way into attack, and he forced the Union to take the left side into account despite Jake Mulraney not doing much in the first half. In fact, Mulraney put Moutinho in some difficult spots during the first half by giving him difficult passes that immediately put him under pressure. Fortunately, the Portuguese left back was able to adjust.
Difficulty Breaking Lines
The Philadelphia Union are well-known for being a tough club to break down defensively, and that proved to be the case on Saturday night. The Union’s lines are compact, organized, and difficult to work through. That was especially true in the first half. Orlando City only had a handful of opportunities in the opening 45 minutes because it was so difficult to get through the Union midfield. Despite that, Orlando should probably have taken the lead on a good look by Facundo Torres.
Orlando City did better in the second half and looked much more dangerous, but it was still difficult to create chances against the Union defense. This is what Philadelphia does, especially once it has the lead.
The Penalty that Was but Wasn’t a Penalty
VAR giveth and VAR taketh. Actually, VAR giveth to Philadelphia, and taketh from Orlando City. Orlando City took a corner kick in second-half stoppage time, and Antônio Carlos was obviously fouled on the play. He was pulled down by his shirt as he went up for the ball. It was definitely “clear and obvious,” but Chilowicz ruled that there was a foul on Carlos first, negating the foul on Gazdag, although all Carlos did is what every player does on every set piece. That seemed more like finding a reason not to overturn the call, rather than actually officiating the play as one would normally do.
Orlando City took 12 shots in the match. Only one shot was on target. The best opportunity came in the 28th minute when Torres found himself with only Andre Blake to beat. Unfortunately, Orlando City’s Young Designated Player sent the ball wide to the left.
The most frustrating missed opportunity came at the end of the match. Orlando City needed to get the ball up the field as Chilowicz was giving them one more chance due to additional injuries in stoppage time. Instead of pushing forward for the goal, the Lions worked the ball all the way back to Pedro Gallese. Once Orlando City’s keeper kicked the ball, Chilowicz blew the whistle. Everyone from the crowd to me on my couch was yelling for Orlando City to press forward, knowing that the clock was running down. Sadly, that didn’t happen and the Lions effectively conceded the match at the death.
That is what I saw during the match. What did you see? Let me know in the comments section below.