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Orlando Analysis: An MLS Opening Day Win And A Pato Goal

Orlando Analysis: An MLS Opening Day Win And A Pato Goal

By Mike Rice.

Orlando City SC got their 2022 Major League Soccer season off to a good start with a win at home to CF Montreal.

A two-goal victory saw Alexandre Pato score his first for the club and Benji Michell add the other to secure all three points.

In the opening game of the season, there was a lot to be happy about for Orlando as the side looks to move on and build on their performances last year.

Partnerships Forming

Though there was some opening day disjointedness, especially in a side with so many changes to its front line, some partnerships began to be seen across the field. None more so that right-back Ruan working well with new Designated Player Facundo Torres as the overlapping full-back.

The opening goal came from the build-up play down the right, as Torres slowed play and passed inside, Ruan made a well-timed overlapping run which was seen by Mauricio Pereyra.

As Ruan comes into the box about three yards from the by-line, Pato is breaking towards the back post with space.

A well-placed cross is too far for the goalkeeper to reach and Pato receives and finishes with two touches as the Montreal defence slide back trying to make a block.

Pato On Target

Pato netted his first goal for the club after an injury ravaged 2021 campaign. The delight was clear to see on his face and an important step for the Orlando City front line who will have a lot of eyes on them after the off-season transfer activity.

Pato had three shots, two on target and one goal in the opener, along with two key passes. He showed his experience and with fitness can be a big part of why Orlando may be successful this season.

Width From The Full Backs

Playing a 4-2-3-1 formation, Orlando were unusually narrow in a lot of their attacks from their front line. Their average positions, shown below from WhoScored, shows only the full-backs being in wider positions than the width of the 6-yard-box.

Orlando City v Montreal Average Positions

With both wingers’ preference for cutting inside onto their stronger foot, this will create a lot of traffic in the middle in build-up play.

In transition, this worked well and has the ability to do so, but a lot rides on the attacking threat of the full-backs to provide width in attack.

Too often Orlando got towards the edge of the Montreal penalty box and were limited to little dinks over the defenders. This was often dealt with without too much concern and the attacks slowed down to a point the opposition defence were comfortable.

Goal From The Press

The first came from strong build-up play from deep but the second came from a good high press which had been evident earlier in the game.

From a Montreal free kick on the edge of their box Pato and new midfielder César Araújo pressed their men. Pato on the goalkeeper and Araújo on the deep midfielder, Victor Wanyama, who was the goalkeeper’s pass standing with his back to the rest of the field.

Araújo won it and received the ball back to shoot just wide. The second goal came just a few minutes later, this time with Júnior Urso pressuring a pass played out from the defence.

Orlando had this period of pressure while on top and really controlled the game in these moments. Their pressing wasn’t throughout the game, but they understood how the game was going and looked to take control of it.


It look like a good start for Óscar Pareja and his new attacking players appear to be fitting into the system well.

Defensively there will still be question marks, especially with the fullbacks being required to contribute so much to attacks if the rest of the team stays so narrow.

Robin Jansson at centre-back was sent off late in the game for a second yellow card which seemed an unnecessary foul to give away as the Montreal attack tried to break forward, themselves already down to 10 men.

More fluidity is needed in the forward line with too many attacks breaking down through lack of cohesion more than excellent defending. With Kara to come into the side, it will be interesting to see how Parejo keeps both Pato and Kara happy while trying to build a defined system for his team to follow.