(Photo by Mark Thor / Orlando City SC)
Orlando City SC traveled north to the Twin Cities to face former coach Adrian Heath and expansion side Minnesota United FC on Saturday at TFC Bank Stadium.
Wary of recent issues of isolated full-backs under a diamond system, Orlando City (6-2-5, 20 points) utilized a classic 4-4-2 formation but struggled mightily to create chances after the first 30 minutes against a Minnesota (4-2-7, 14 points) side that is nothing like the team that was trounced 5-1 and 6-1 in its opening couple of matches.
Early high-pressing and intricate one-two passing pressured Minnesota’s defense in the match’s opening stages. Shots from Cyle Larin and Matías Pérez García were parried by veteran goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth. Even right-back Scott Sutter was bombarding the home team’s 18-yard box, bending a shot just wide of the far-left post after a delightfully slotted pass from García.
Colombian forward Carlos Rivas was closest to breaking the deadlock, pouncing on a loose defensive touch and driving toward goal with pace and purpose. A deft nudge with the outside of his left foot bounced off the inside of the left post.
Orlando needed to be resilient in the second half, as 13 of Minnesota’s 18 goals have come in the second half. It took 10 minutes for the home team to break through after a sumptuous flick by Johan Venegas set up Christian Ramirez to slide the ball past Orlando goalkeeper Joe Bendik.
The Lions outshot Minnesota 20-5 (7-2 on goal) but lacked final-ball quality to the forwards. Orlando played García and Luis Gil, who are more central players by trade, in wide positions and kept the midfield too compact and cramped. The classic 4-4-2 formation worked in the early portion of the game, but once Gil and García were prevented from cutting inside and subsequently forced wider by Minnesota’s much improved defense, Orlando couldn’t provide Larin with the services he needed to be a nuisance in front of the opposing goal.
Rivas was a constant threat with pace but ultimately lashed several shots over the crossbar. He passed the ball well all game but couldn’t add to his team-high five assists. Orlando has now gone six games without a win and are in jeopardy of falling out of the playoff places in a newly competitive Eastern Conference.
Man of the Match: Christian Ramirez
Minnesota’s main-target man notched his eighth goal of the season after a cheeky flick from Vanegas allowed Ramirez to breach Orlando’s defensive line and calmly slot the ball past Bendik. He finished the match with three shots (two on goal) and drew three fouls.
Orlando City’s next game is a mid-week affair against D.C. United on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at the Orlando City Stadium.
- This was Orlando City’s fourth game without scoring a goal this season.
- Ramirez scored his eighth goal of the season and Minnesota United’s 14th second half goal.
|55’||Minnesota United FC||Christian Ramirez||Johan Venagas|
Statistics and Starting Lineup
|Goals||Assists||Shots||Shots on goal||Possession %|
|Minnesota United FC||1||1||5||2||52.9|
|Orlando City SC||0||0||20||7||47.1|
Minnesota United Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Bobby Shuttleworth (GK); Jerome Thiesson, Brent Kallman, Francisco Calvo, Marc Burch; Sam Cronin, Ibson Barreto da Silva; Miguel Ibarra, Ismalia Jome, Johan Venegas; Christian Ramirez.
Orlando City Starting XI (4-4-2): Joe Bendik (GK); Scott Sutter, José Aja, Jonathan Spector, Victor “PC” Giro; Luis Gil, Antonio Nocerino, Will Johnson (C), Matías Pérez García; Cyle Larin, Carlos Rivas