FC Cincinnati welcomes the self-appointed “Major League Soccer’s best road team” into TQL Stadium when the Lions of Orlando City SC visit the Queen City. The Lions sit 13 points behind FCC and in third place in the East. Unbeaten in their last nine matches and with a plus-nine goal differential, overall, Orlando City will not be an easy matchup. To hear more about this matchup, listen to this week’s episode of The Walkthrough.
Let’s look at what The Lions’ style of play looks like, how they look to create chances, and where they might be vulnerable. If you like these scouting reports, please let us know so we can keep them coming.
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Team: Orlando City SC
Match Scouted: 8/30/23 @ Charlotte SC
Mode of Attack
While Oscar Pareja’s side has traditionally favored building from the back and playing through the thirds, this season’s team seems content to play a lot more long passes. While they are by no means a “hit and hope” team, they take far fewer chances in possession and tend to play through their young target forward, Duncan Maguire, a lot more often. When they do possess through the back, they like to drop one of their defensive midfielders deep, alongside the center backs, and try to split lines quickly once they go forward.
When they are lucky enough to have possession in the final third, they like to attack with numbers. All of their central midfielders typically go forward unless one of their outside backs is on the ball, in which case they will hold a midfielder back as a precaution. When converted attacking midfielder Dagur Dan Þórhallsson starts as their right back, he likes to tuck in and create from central positions.
Method of Chance Creation
Orlando doesn’t have an elite chance creator in their squad. Instead, they rely on the dribbling of Facundo Torres or their other wings to break down defenses and create chances. Teams have to be wary of their wings cutting inside to shoot. The only other predictable way that they create chances is through quick transitions. Goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, in particular, likes to start counterattacks with quick side-volleys after saves. The team will get out and run whenever they can.
Mode of Defense
The Lions play a mixture of high-pressure or medium-block defending, depending on their opponent. When they do press, it is typically man-to-man. When they drop off into a set defense they tend to sit in a 4-4-2 narrow diamond formation, clogging up the midfield and forcing opponents to play wide.
Mode of Transition
I’ve already mentioned Gallese here. Orlando’s other modes of quick transition are to get the ball to Torres on the half-turn and let him run with it or to play Maguire into the channels. Maguire is deceptively fast for a target forward. Because of their offensive setup, with an outside back tucked centrally and all midfielders pushed forward, they struggle with quick defensive transitions. Instead, they rely on immediately pressing after turnovers to try to slow the opponent down.
- Martín Ojeda is a streaky player, but when he is on the pitch he can create chances out of nothing.
- Fecundo Torres is very good on the ball and can break any defender down in 1v1 situations.
- When Torres, Ramiro Enrique, or Iván Angulo are playing as inverted wingers, they are all dangerous to cut inside and shoot from distance.
- Their center backs are slow and aggressive. They can be bated into fouls and cards.
- Their narrow defense allows a ton of space in wide areas, especially when teams can switch the fields quickly.
- Their usual left back, Rafael Santos, likes to cheat forward into passing lanes. He is susceptible to back cuts and players getting in behind him.
Coach Gough’s Tactical Game Plan
If I were coaching a team playing against Orlando City SC, I would focus on counter-attacking. When in possession I would be conservative in sending midfielders forward so as to eliminate their quick transitions, and I would sit deep and dare players to come forward defensively. I would press selectively and be ready to win second balls once my team forces them to play long.
When in possession, I would have my team focus on attacking from outside to in, playing through my wingbacks, but asking them to cut in and combine or get to the endline and look for cutbacks. I would also drift a midfielder wide and look to create overloads before attacking the middle of the pitch.