Orlando City team won by a penalty shootout after the match ended with a score of 1-1. As you can see in the graph, both teams were attacking directly, due to the pressure they exerted.
Both teams put four players in the backline, Los Angeles playing 4-3-3, while Orlando City is playing 4-2-3-1. However, when the match kicked off, they both played a similar system.
Both sides entered with the familiar names; only Wright-Phillips replaced Carlos Vela of the former Arsenal player.
Bob Bradley’s team always tries to attack from the sides, as it tries to move the ball to the side, and then creates numerical superiority in that area, and then takes advantage of the smart moves of its players, to penetrate the opponent’s box.
For this reason, the Orlando City manager preferred to play with a high block for most of the match for two reasons.
The first reason was to prevent the Los Angeles team from delivering the ball cleanly to the side.
The second reason is that Los Angeles midfielders are forced to stay in the first third, in order to help the defenders in the build-up phase. Hence Bob Bradley could not create numerical superiority on the sides.
This forced Bradley to use new methods to escape the pressure of Orlando City and to transfer the balls to the opponent’s half of the court in a clean manner.
Bob Bradley asked the full-backs to position themselves in the touchline; that way they would be fixed the wings of Orlando City.
In this case, Orlando City playmaker Mauricio Pereyra will come forward to put pressure on centre back with Tesho Akindele.
This way, Bradley can create a 3v2 numerical superiority in the centre of the field. In addition to this, the backline of Orlando City does not go forward much, because he is afraid of the speed of the front line of Los Angeles, and therefore, the free player has a large space between the lines, in which he can receive the ball.
This image shows what I explained above, where Los Angeles got a numerical advantage in the centre of the field, and ample space between the lines.
If the Orlando City playmaker decides to stay, and the winger advances into pressure the centre backs, the Los Angeles full-back will be free, and he can receive the ball and then place his teammate winger in a 1v1 situation. As in this picture.
Front line flexibility
The flexibility of the attacking trio of the Los Angeles team, and their exchange of positions, helped the team a lot in the process of building play when Orlando City formed a middle block. It also made it easy for Bob Bradley’s team to create opportunities.
These heat maps of the Los Angeles strikers’ movements in the final third, as you can see, they covered almost the opponent’s half.
As I said above, the Los Angeles strikers’ movement helped the team a lot in the build-up phase. For example, here a Rossi has pulled back, putting players in Orlando City in trouble.
This flexibility was also crucial in the final third. For example, in this picture, Rossi left his position, moved in the deep and pulled the centre back of the opponent’s, In this way, he created a space, in which Kaye played a pass that penetrated the box.
Here, too, Rodriguez has moved deeper, in this way Los Angeles created numerical superiority in depth.
This flexibility was very important and helped Bradley win the battle of possession.
Los Angeles pressure was successful, with a PPDA average of seven passes. This is due to the pressure structure put in place by Bob Bradley.
This is the pressure structure of the Los Angeles team, as you can see all the passing channels at the deep are blocked, in this way the opponent will be forced to move the ball towards the side, at this moment, Los Angeles will be pressing with three players.
Their attacking style also helped them, as I said Bradley puts several players on the side to create numerical superiority, and breakthrough the opponent’s defence.
This attacking style helps them in the defensive stage. When the ball is lost, Los Angeles has a large number of players in the area where they lost the ball. Moreover, thus they can control that area and recover the ball.
This map shows the success of the Bradley Structure, as you can see, Los Angeles retrieved a large number of balls on the sides.
Orlando City VS LAFC pressure
The Orlando City manager had some tactics that made his team use Los Angeles pressure to create opportunities.
Óscar Pareja was placed the right full-back alongside the centre-backs, while the left full-back was moved forward. This way the front line of the Los Angeles team will advance and position in the deep, to put pressure on the Orlando City defence.
That way, the Orlando City full-back will be free, and Orlando City can create a 2vs1 situation. As shown in the picture
Moutinho also used a loophole in the Los Angeles pressure structure, so his team could move the ball into the final third.
As I mentioned above, Los Angeles forces their opponent to move the ball to the side, then presses him with three players (winger, full-back and midfield player).
The problem is that the midfielder will leave his place in the deep and head towards the side, and he needs at least two seconds to reach the side.
Hence the idea, in this photo, the ball is on the side, ex-Manchester United player Luis Nani moved into deep, as the playmaker takes his place.
This change confuses the Los Angeles players, and the same moment Latif Blessing left his position, Joao Moutinho played a pass to Nani in the empty space.
As this tactical analysis showed, Los Angeles played a great game at the tactical level and managed to dominate their opponent, Orlando City.
Los Angeles broke the pressure of Orlando City and created much chance. However, they failed to convert them into goals.