Orlando City bounced back in beautiful fashion on Saturday against Charlotte FC, walking out with 3 points in a 2-1 win. The Lions improved to 5-3-2 with 17 points on the season in their first ever meeting with Charlotte. In reference to the Red Bulls match, they looked like the Invincibles. In comparison to what we believe in this squad, it was a positive step forward.
The first goal of the game came from Ruan (yes, Ruan) crashing into the box late on an attack and striking it perfectly into the bottom right corner. It was a clinical finish from him and he wasn’t done in the first half, using his pace to break away from the Charlotte defense on a counter attack, before putting it on a tee for Torres to slide home. Those 2 goals would be enough despite a 2nd half push from Charlotte, including a penalty kick goal from former Premier League champion Christian Fuchs.
If there is something to worry about with this match, it’s the individual errors and lapses in concentration that lead to goals. Schlegel’s 2nd straight conceded penalty came in the second half which got Charlotte back into the game. Orlando was able to hold on for 3 points but these mistakes need to stop popping up at the worst times. We know he’s just filling in for Antonio Carlos for the moment, but he won’t be back for time. Jansson and company did good to put out any other fires. And good on Jansson for a quality performance on his 100th appearance for Orlando.
The offense also could click a little bit better. Many times attacks were deflated by some timing and passing issues. Pato did not start in this fixture either and his cameo was not anything to write home about. If the attack can flow together while the defense stops making bonehead mistakes, Orlando will push for the Eastern Conference top spot.
Goal - 16’ - Ruan
Yellow Card - 17’ - Ruan
Yellow Card - 28’ - Corujo
Goal - 45’ + 1’ - Torres
Yellow Card - 54’ - Alcivar Yellow Card - 59’ - Schlegel Goal - 60’ - Fuchs Yellow Card - 60’ - Bronico
Yellow Card - 88’ - Jansson
1. Work Ethic Pays Off For Facundo
Watching Facundo always puts a smile on my face. Even if the pass doesn’t come off exactly how he would have liked or the chance goes wrong, you never see this kid put his head down. It’s a pretty honorable characteristic of his. His work ethic goes unmatched when he’s on the pitch. Despite being an attacking minded player always looking to get on the ball, he puts in a shift on defense as well, pressuring every chance he can. On his goal, he battled with a bigger player, won the head in his own 18 yard box, then sprinted in a footrace with Ruan to receive the tap in for his first goal at Exploria Stadium. He worked his ass off for it and I’m glad Ruan had the awareness to lay it off. Well deserved if you ask me.
2. Penalties & Mistakes
For the second straight game, the Lions have conceded a penalty. For the second straight game, the offender was Schlegel. What an interesting case this is. For both penalties, you could call Schlegel a bonehead for his antics or call him unlucky, and both could be correct. In this game, he came across the attacker when the ball over the top came in, knocking him over. Was it a tad clumsy? 100%. Was the Charlotte FC player looking for it? 110%. It’s an awkward situation and definitely preventable errors that I hope get cleaned up soon. Charlotte was more energetic in the 2nd half and having a goal handed to them almost got them back in the game. As we move along I hope the Lions can minimize individual lapses in concentration.
3. Ruan’s Upside
It’s clear the opinion of Ruan is torn between Orlando fans (or maybe nobody likes him, despite his quality performance on Saturday.) His speed is such an advantage going forward. His presence was felt on the right side of the field all night long, up and down. He crashed the box and put away the first goal, and killed Charlotte on a counter attack with his pace, eventually slotting it across for Torres to finish for his first goal as a Lion. While he can always work on his defense and crossing against a low block, Ruan’s output on Saturday is great to see, especially with an already injured back line.
When you compare it to the Red Bulls match, it was an amazing performance. There are things to work on of course, but a good step in the right direction. Orlando needed 3 points at home and they got all 3. I’ll take this any day of the week. And I want designated masks for every goal scorer from here on out.
The Lions head up north next Saturday to take on CF Montreal.