Two Big Takeaways from Orlando City's Win over the Sounders
Personality and character, while essential, will only take a team so far. Orlando also showed its flexibility in tactics as the game wore on.
The match opened with a good run for Orlando. Overmatched in the midfield against Seattle's 3-5-2 formation, the Lions frequently looked to play over the top. The approach spread the Sounders out and created quick space resulting in some decent chances.
As the game progressed, Seattle dropped its block lower and lower. Orlando City struggled to maintain possession initially, but still found ways to slip through the defense, working less directly and getting off 10 shots in the first half. They added another 9 shots in the second. Torres found a perfect space between lines in the middle of the field to get his goal, and the team kept the pressure on (although they remain vulnerable when they lose their shape in counterpressing).
João Moutinho had an excellent game, and his positioning provided a key element of Orlando City's attack whether they looked to counter quickly or to patiently break down the block. He played higher up the field than he often does. The strategy both responded to Jordan Morris pulling inside and helped keep Alex Roldán deeper than he would prefer. With an 84% pass completion rate, Moutinho made the most of his positioning and remained a threat throughout the match.
The wins over the past few weeks have certainly been nice, but we're also seeing the Lions utilizing and even developing the mental and tactical traits that allow the team to improve. The climb up the standings feels good, but the way the team has done it points to its ability to maintain high standards and be a serious threat in the postseason.