Orlando City traveled to the Queen City to take on Charlotte FC on Sunday night in a crucial match in the congested Eastern Conference race. The Lions earned three points on the road making it two wins in a row, and two goals from two players that haven’t scored in a while. The 2-1 win over Charlotte FC was unexpected and wonderful. What can we take away from the victory?
Torres in Space
Facundo Torres was either using Harry Potter’s cloak of invisibility or Bilbo Baggins’ magic ring, because he was able to consistently find pockets of space in between Charlotte’s lines in the attack. I honestly lost count of how many times he was able to pop up in the middle of the field, receive the ball, and then turn and look for a way into the box. This is what we want to see from Torres. It allows him to be an attacking outlet, and to then be creative.
Kara Back on the Board
There’s been a persistent buzz of discontent regarding Ercan Kara on social media. The complaints include such sentiments as he’s not that great, he disappears in games, and my favorite, the play-Jack-Lynn-instead-of-Kara crowd. It’s all a bit ridiculous given he has been injured recently. However, he finally got back on the scoreboard with a well-placed shot into the bottom right corner past Kristijan Kahlina in the 62nd minute. It came from a neat little pass by Torres inside the box. The goal temporarily gave the Lions the lead.
Missing Jansson and Moutinho
For much of the night, Orlando City’s defense was solid. In the first half, the Lions kept everything in front of the defense. Charlotte was only able to muster three shots with one on target. In the second half, Charlotte put more pressure on Orlando City, and in the 66th minute, McKinze Gaines broke through with a header past Pedro Gallese. Kyle Smith was on the goal side of Gaines but couldn’t stop him. Rodrigo Schlegel tried to get up to defend the ball, but wasn’t able to do so. There’s no way to say for certain that Robin Jansson — who picked up a foot injury in training late in the week — and the suspended João Moutinho would have done any better in that situation, but I wish they’d had the chance.
A huge part of Orlando City’s effectiveness on defense was due to César Araújo playing the way that he usually does. Araújo was always where he needed to be, making the plays to stop Charlotte before they could create too much danger. Amazingly, he didn’t earn a yellow card, despite how much defending the Lions had to do in the second half. This was another solid performance from a player who should be considered for best young player in MLS.
Remember when I said there are people online who want Jack Lynn to play for the first team? When they aren’t ragging on Kara, they do the same to Tesho Akindele. In the 89th minute, Akindele made a good defensive play that turned into a counter attack for the Lions. He continued his run onto the perfect pass from Junior Urso and took the shot. It was deflected and then Akindele played his own rebound and put it back in the net for the winning goal. Oh, I forgot to mention it was with his left foot. This was the perfect time for Akindele to find his scoring boots.
That is what I saw during the match. What did you see? Let me know in the comments section below.