Ivan Angulo and Facundo Torres lead the Lions to a 3-0 road win at RBNY.
Whether the reason be psychological, timing, or the opponents, Orlando City, playing away from home, are a testament to the player's and staff's preparation, resilience, and character. Another win on the road and another three points - are the Lions starting to put all of the pieces together as we close in on the midway point of the season? Here are a few takes from last night's game at Red Bull Arena:
Orlando City manager Oscar Pareja has played many combinations to start the first fifteen games - due to the deep player pool he has put together with Luiz Muzzi and the Lions' front office. Injuries and player rotation due to the compressed match schedule have also forced Pareja to fluctuate the starting eleven, but fifteen games into the season it does look like there is a base starting lineup Pareja can count on. This includes both Ivan Angulo and Facundo Torres playing inverted flank roles, and the results, along with Ercan Kara finding his form, are starting to pay off.
The starting lineup did not include designated player Martin Ojeda, who is still looking to gain top form with his new team and system of play. No one wants to see a DP benched, but the deep player pool and the outstanding midfield trio of Wilder Cartagena, César Araújo, and Mauricio Pereyra are excellent with their tactical awareness and dominate ball-winning. Sure, RBNY had one, and then a second player sent off obviously helped OCSC, but it was obvious the Lions' midfield was able to control the game from the start. Another benefit with the starting eleven Pareja put out last night is the ability to adjust tactics with Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, Felipe Martins, Ramiro Enrique, Duncan McGuire, and Ojeda coming on as substitutes. Again, a salute to Pareja and Luiz Muzzi for building a high-quality player pool.
That quote, from possibly the best defender ever, is credible, but does not describe Orlando City's two central defenders. Antonio Carlos and Robin Jansson are very hard into the tackle, good on the ball, and for the most part, distribute the ball with relative efficiency. If not the best central defender duo in Major League Soccer, they are very close. We just need to hope that their alpha-male defending stays consistent and injury-free.
Through fifteen games, OCSC sits on twenty-three points, good for 8th place in the eastern conference. They get a well-deserved six days rest before hosting the Colorado Rapids Saturday night at Exploria Stadium. Will manager Oscar Pareja employ the same starting eleven as last night? If I were a betting man, I would bet yes.
Gary Levitt @gary1123 justmytake.net
photo credit: Orlando City Soccer Club