Some may call it a smash and grab, others may call it a defensive masterclass. Personally, I just call it a damn good win on the road. Coming off of a draw and a bad loss to Cincinnati, all that was needed today were 3 points and it didn't matter what evil magic of a formation needed to be drawn up to get it. The Lions took the W home with an early header from Facundo Torres and never looked back, winning 1-0 and improving to 2-1-1 on the season.
Make no mistake, as much of a dominating performance it appeared to be on the stat sheet, it took 95 minutes of pure discipline from the visitors to come away with all 3 points. Orlando operated with a more defensive midfield on Saturday in an attempt to slow down the Galaxy attack that had everyone nervous.
If it wasn't for Carlos and Gallese standing on their heads, not sure 3 points would have been won in LA. So many times Carlos was there to snuff out any brewing chances for the Galaxy, and when he wasn't able to, Gallese was able to make the save. It's his third clean sheet of the season and it's safe to say he's had as good a start as anybody in net this year.
Both sides had their share of chances but the Galaxy saw most of the ball. It's a very strong sign going forward in terms of team discipline and structure. Mentally, battling to keep that 1-0 win when you NEED this win, after the horrible week that was with Chicago and Cincinnati, is huge. It also doesn't hurt to see two newcomers in Torres and Kara combining for the goal either. The Lions have a lot to be proud of for their performance on Saturday. It ain't always pretty, but damn if it doesn't get the job done.
Goal - 9' - Torres
Yellow Card - 44' - Ruan
Yellow Card - 70' - Moutinho
Yellow Card - 90'+3' - Araujo
1. Tactical Masterclarse
It's not always going to be pretty to get 3 points. Pareja knew this was the case and adjusted the lineup today, benching Pato in exchange for defensive midfielder Sebas Mendez. Mendez was alongside Araujo and Urso in the midfield, which defensively is on the stronger side. The Galaxy have a lot of offensive talent and clogging up the middle definitely helped close down spaces and force the Galaxy out wide in most cases.
2. Torres Turning Up
It was worth the wait to see the Uruguayan's first goal for the Lions, a strong high flying header off the assist from Kara to open up the scoring and stand as the only goal of the game. Torres played well in the majority of this match, creating more chances as well and definitely, in my opinion, cementing himself as a locked-in starter in the front 3. Now with a goal and an assist to his name and chemistry building with Kara, the signs point to Torres establishing confidence out on the wing.
3. Kara vs Pato
Kara and Pato give you two different things when it comes to forward play. For one, Pato is more skillful and perhaps has more of an eye for goal. A bit flashier and easy on the eye, with more speed. Kara is a workhorse and is starting to produce, getting his first assist for the club. Additionally, he is much more physical and forces teams to use the width of the pitch when he's in the middle. That combined with the triangle central midfield really was a blockade in the center of the park on Saturday. It will be interesting to see what Pareja does moving forward, and clearly, both players will be utilized, but the question is how much.
The stats did not favor the Lions today. Outshot 20-6 with only 37% possession in a very defensive game out in LA. However, lots would argue the only stat that matters is the goal. The Lions will gladly take this win after a tough past week as they try to steer the ship straight again.
Orlando will stay out west next Sunday as they visit the Portland Timbers. Kickoff is at 4 pm EST.