ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN) — Orlando City commanded a triumphant shutout over Chicago Fire at home this weekend.
The 1-0 victory was Orlando’s second encounter this season, where Chicago Fire hosted the Lions to a 0-0 draw at Soldier Field. Both teams had depleted starting XI’s with Shaqiri out of the main lineup for Chicago, as Orlando missed Antonio Carlos due to a high hamstring injury. Orlando dominated the game on both ends of the ball and put in a mature home performance after their 4-2 loss to LAFC.
Engine, Engine Number Nine
After a few games of shambolic results influenced by small mistakes, Orlando City went back to basics for their win against Chicago. In the past few games, the Lions had seemingly been frustrated by aggressive opponents who in turn forced Orlando to make under-pressure mistakes. Ruan was once again under fire on social media outlets as his attacking presence wound up giving way to defensive mishaps on the other end of the field.
This game followed a much different formula. For starters, Chicago Fire’s Brian Rodriguez’s early double yellow tilted the game in Orlando’s favor as they were just starting to build their stride offensively. Shortly after, it seemed like every possession Orlando had was a shot on goal or at the very least an attempt. After winning the ball in the attacking half, Facundo Torres lobbed a ball to the far post that found Alexandre Pato. Pato then bounced the ball off his head to connect with Ercan Kara in the penalty box.
That goal not only gave Orlando City the victory, but it opened Kara’s accounts for goals this season. The Austrian striker has adjusted to MLS well in just a few short months he’s spent in Orlando. However, the finished product across the board for Orlando City is still lacking. Orlando City took 21 shots this game, which easily could’ve converted the scoreline into 3-0 or 4-0. It seems like it’s only a matter of time before the cogs begin to turn for Orlando City and hopefully they can turn good football moments into chants of goal, especially in crucial home games.
Defense Wins Championships
There was another spotlight on Rodrigo Schlegel as well. The Argentine defender had his number called after Antonio Carlos’ injury and lived up to the pressure. Schlegel’s first start of the 2022 season went off without a hitch as he dominated all one-on-one exchanges. The purple wall of defense seemed impenetrable with Schlegel and Jansson in top form. With that said, the hidden gem of Orlando’s 2022 season thus far has to be Joao Moutinho.
After starting every game this season post-ankle injury, the young Portuguese left-back has found his stride. Moutinho continues to be rock solid in defense, often using his ball-winning abilities to create offense on the other side of the field with quick passes to Araujo or Facundo Torres.
Little by little, the blueprint for success is being established for Orlando City as Oscar Pareja continues to implement his system. Within a few short weeks, Orlando City should start establishing itself as a front-runner in the Eastern Conference with more commanding displays as we saw on Saturday.
Nicolas Vera is a sports reporter for Florida National News. | firstname.lastname@example.org