Nashville SC Match Recap
Orlando City bounces back from two straight defeats to beat league newcomers Nashville SC.
Before I get started on the review, I feel that it is appropriate to comment on the fact that we even played a game last night. My opinion on the matter is that there was not enough time for a final decision to take place, therefore it isn't a major issue that we played. We did not go against the league's wishes or the movement that all the other athletes were boycotting in support of. It was just too late for us.
That being said, a game was still played so let's talk about it. The boys started off the game slowly (again) and saw Nashville have a few good chances before they finally got their goal off the free-kick. It's very concerning how poor our set-piece defense has been recently. We definitely need to focus on that for our next few games. As we saw in the Portland game, poor set-piece defending can be the difference between winning and losing. All because you allow goals that really shouldn't be allowed. Put the time in off the pitch and stop conceding so many needless goals.
Moving on, we showed our fight and determination under Pareja yet again to bounce back in the face of adversity. For the 6th time in our 11 games thus far, we have scored an equalizer after going down. Out of those six games, we have gone on to win 2, draw 2 (not counting penalties), and lose 2. That stat alone shows just how strong our mentality is when we go down. Past Orlando City teams would have folded in those scenarios. Not this one.
Instead, this team breaks down a pretty rigid defense through great moments of individual brilliance. Let's start with Pereyra. He spots the wide-open Moutinho on the left side and easily lifts the ball perfectly into Moutinho's path with his weaker foot. HIS WEAKER FOOT. That ball allows the dirty, disgusting, criminal act that follows suit.
Moutinho shapes up to take a cross before chopping inside at the perfect moment to get past the sliding Hany Mukhtar. He then cuts back onto his favored left foot before splitting two defenders with his cross onto Mueller's head. Whether he was aiming for Mueller, who was on the ground, or not remains unknown but the cross went directly at him. Mueller then reacts well to the ball and gets his head on it, directing it into the back of the net.
After that goal, we looked dominant and it remained that way after halftime. Seven minutes into the second half, another beautiful move resulted in a goal for us. Mendez finds Mueller who makes an important first-time ball into the path of Pereyra. The fact that the pass wasn't behind him was crucial to how this goal panned out. Pereyra then runs onto it and finds Dike with a "world-class" (looking at you Lee) pass into Dike's path, which allows him to take his shot first time.
We then sealed the deal with another Dike goal later in the half after a beautiful cross from Ruan finds Urso's head. The ensuing header was parried into the path of Dike and he powered home his third goal in his first two starts.
1. Let's talk some Schlegel
Our Argentinian center back was called upon against Nashville to come in for Antonio Carlos, who was probably the player who recorded the inconclusive COVID-19 test. I don't think it's too far fetched to say that he had a rough start to the game. After being left to defend a one-on-one scenario with Nashville striker Abu Danladi, he stabbed in to get the ball, which led to Danladi skipping past him before putting his shot over the bar. That easily could have been the opening goal for Nashville.
After being spared from Danladi, he almost gives up another goal by missing his interception at the near post. If those two goals go in, we're looking at a very different match. The team, and Schlegel, are very lucky Nashville's shooting boots weren't on today. He did eventually grow into the game but man those first 10-15 minutes from him were scary.
The thing is though, what we saw can be fixed. In the first instance, he got caught squaring up to his man, something defenders should never do. He also stuck his leg out, another thing defenders are told not to do, especially when the attacker is in the box. The coaching staff will pinpoint these things and let him know that next time, he needs to bend his knees and turn his body sideways in order to jockey the defender away from the net. Next time he plays, keep an eye on if he goes into a tackle squared up again. As for the second instance, he just needs to get into a better position and make sure that the ball does not get past him because if it does, that ball usually finds the back of the net.
2. Dike looks like he belongs
After two starts now, we have seen a good amount of our rookie striker Daryl Dike and the best way to sum up his performances in those two games is to say he looks like he belongs. Whether it was scoring the goal in the Miami match that gave him the confidence to perform like he did against Nashville or it's just the fact that he's a good footballer, Daryl Dike should be playing first-team minutes until he proves otherwise.
3. Pereyra is our most important player
That dude just isn't fair. None of the three goals happen if it isn't for him. The first because of the perfect pass into Moutinho's path. The second due to his "world-class assist" (according to Lee). The third due to him retaining possession in our half before turning and finding a pass between the lines to launch our attack. His performance on Wednesday was just another example of how good he is. You can find his individual match highlights here. He is the most important cog in our wheel. We must keep him at all costs.
Gallese - 5/10
Ruan - 6/10
Schlegel - 4/10
Jansson - 5/10
Moutinho - 6/10
Rosell - 6/10
Mueller - 6/10
Pereyra - 9/10
Nani - 6/10
Dike - 9/10 MOTM
Urso - 7/10
Perea - 6/10
Michel - 5/10
Smith - 5/10
Miller - 5/10
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'Til next time, this has been Gavin Rushnell and #VamosOrlando