The Lions Are Now Unbeaten In Their Last Six Matches.
Before an announced crowd of 18,711, Orlando City took advantage of playing a man up, and eventually two-men up, in a 2-0 win over the visiting Colorado Rapids. Now unbeaten through their last six games, the Lions have won back-to-back games for the first time this season. Here a few short takes from last night's match at Exploria Stadium:
Orlando City manager Oscar Pareja's starting lineup, after testing the waters with many different combinations, has remained the same over the last three games and that consistency is paying dividends. The back four of Kyle Smith, Antonio Carlos, Robin Jansson, and Rafael Santos, anchored by goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, turned in another stellar performance, limiting Colorado to only four shots on goal. Santos, the 25-year-old left fullback, continually got down the left flank and again provided service with his deft ability to put in dangerous crosses. Gallese earned a shutout, making his 100th appearance for Orlando City.
The Lions, for the second game in a row, had a man advantage after the thirty-ninth minute, and a two-man advantage after the 75th minute. Though their attacking third efficiency could have been a bit better, Orlando finally broke through with Facundo Torres' 56th minute strike and Ramiro Enrique scoring his first Orlando City goal in the 78th minute. After many issues with scoring goals in the first ten games, the Lions now sit on goal differential of +5, scoring twenty-two goals through 16 matches.
The player pool change out and build up by Pareja and Luiz Muzzi continues to provide the Lions with talent and depth. Though last night's game was done after Enrique's seventy-fifth minute goal, Pareja now has many solid options to give starters a rest and close out games. In one move that immediately paid dividends, Enrique came on for Kyle Smith, with Ivan Angulo sliding back into the right fullback slot. Due to yellow card situations, Martin Ojeda and Rodrigo Schlegel relieved Wilder Cartagena and Antonio Carlos respectively, and Felipe Martins gave Mauricio Pereyra a break at the 84th minute. Just as importantly, Alejandro Granados became the youngest player to make their Orlando City debut, coming into the match in the 90th minute for Facundo Torres. The Lions will continue to need this level of depth as they head into the second half of the MLS season.
Orlando City now sit on twenty-six points for 7th place in the Eastern Conference. They visit fourth place New England on Saturday night which should be a big test for the Lions. Does Pareja continue with the consistent starting eleven that has provided positive results over the last six games? Saturday night at Gillette Stadium looks to be a must-watch MLS game.
Gary Levitt @gl1123 justmytake.net
Photo Credit: Orlando City Soccer Club
Video Credit: YouTube