As the 1st match of the MLS is back tournament Inter Miami and Orlando City provided everyone with a full 90 minutes of action. In a match which provided three second-half goals with the decisive winner coming in the 97th minute, it had several switches in momentum. Still, it was Óscar Pareja’s City boys who came out on top handing Diego Alonso and Inter Miami their third loss in three MLS matches. Not the start, owner and former UEFA Champions League winner David Beckham would have been expecting.
The key factor in this match was Orlando City’s ability to maintain the majority of possession. Their ability to move Inter Miami side to side and attack from the wide channels was crucial in their two goals. Ultimately, it was the former Manchester United man Nani who made the difference in this match providing the assist for Orlando’s first goal and the strike for the late winner. Conceding so late, Inter Miami had little time to try and even the scoreline and were unable to convert any real chance. This tactical analysis will explain the tactics of both teams and highlight just how Orlando was able to come out on top in this match.
As expected, Orlando City started the match in Pareja’s preferred 4-2-3-1 which shifted to back three pushing right-back Ruan further forward while in possession. Similarly, Alonso opted for his preferred 5-3-2 which also in possession shifted to 3-4-3 utilising wing-backs to gain numerical advantages further up the pitch. Even with the swings in momentum as the goals began to come in the second half, both managers stuck to those formations for the entirety of the match even when bringing on their newly allowed five substitutions.
Early in this match, it didn’t require much analysis to see both teams looked as though they hadn’t played a competitive match in well over 100 days. Unfortunately, for Miami, it was Orlando who looked most comfortable on the ball early. As a result, Miami was forced to defend for long spells. As seen in the possession statistics from the match Wyscout report.
At just above 40% the problem for Miami, especially in the first half of this match, was in finding a player to link their possession between the defensive and attacking lines. Central midfielders Will Trapp and Víctor Ulloa were unable to find space to receive the ball in the centre of the field. Therefore, Miami regularly struggled to find short passes and was forced to play longer aerial passes which allowed Orlando to challenge for possession. More often than not giving away possession to Orlando putting them in a consistent defensive shape of their 5-3-2.
Still, even while the possession statistics weren’t in their favour it was Miami who struck first. It also came from an initial longer pass forward across the field from left to right. However, this time players were around the ball allowing them to pick up the second ball from the initial pass and gain possession in Orlando’s defensive third.
Here we see the start of this sequence. After collecting the second ball Miami looked to pass wide to former Celtic winger Lewis Morgan who is isolated 1 vs 1 on the right. As the Miami central midfielder runs in behind it creates a hole centrally for Morgan to dribble towards.
Once he’s dribbled inside Morgan plays a well-weighted ball to Ulloa running towards the goal. After a quick two-pass exchange between Ulloa and Matías Pelligrini, Ulloa plays a brilliant ball on the ground towards Juan Agudelo.
Agudelo is able to get beyond his Orlando defender and calmly slot the ball home putting Miami up 1-0 in just two minutes into the second half. Similar to this sequence once Miami was able to progress into Orlando’s half they did create dangerous opportunities. Unfortunately, for Miami however, this opportunity early in the second half was the only chance they were able to capitalise on in this match.
In the early going of this match, Orlando City was able to establish superiority from the possession standpoint. This is indicated clearly in the passing breakdown for each team.
This report shows just how effective Orlando was, besting Inter Miami in every category except for back passes where they each were 93% accurate. When looking at the stats for progressive passes and passes into the final third Orlando produced more and were more accurate at 75% and 81% respectively.
However, upon conceding the goal in the 47th minute Orlando changed from a controlled tempo building through the centre of the field to higher pace looking to attack from wider areas. As such, two key players in this match for Orlando were their wide players in Nani and Chris Mueller playing on the left and right respectively. The first goal was a product of playing through the wings via a quick counter and showed us just how dangerous Nani can be in 1 vs 1 situations.
In this sequence, Nani received the ball on a quick counterattack out wide 1 vs 1 with an Inter Miami right centre-back. Being the quality attacking player he is, Nani instantly recognises the situation and dribbles directly at the Miami defender. Using his pace is able to get beyond his defender and get his head up looking to cross. Meanwhile, centre-forward Tasho Akindele of Orlando is also sprinting forward making a near-post run occupying the remaining two Miami centre-backs.
As a result, Nani plays a brilliantly weighted pass to the back post, where Mueller is sprinting toward with his defender a half step behind him. From here Mueller is able to slide and direct the ball towards the far post evening the scoreline to 1-1 in the 70th minute. Here the run of Akindele created space on the far post for Mueller who does well to get on the end of Nani’s brilliantly weighted pass at the back post. Putting City on the front foot with 20 minutes remaining in the match.
For the remaining 30 minutes of the Orlando looked the most dangerous of the two teams. With Nani coming alive as the game progressed even deeper into the 90 minutes. Ultimately the second goal came from a similar situation. After a decent spell of possession with Miami looking tired Nani was able to receive the ball wide on the left 1 vs 1.
Once on the ball, Nani dribbles inside drawing three total defenders with him. With three defenders around him, Nani quickly played Akindele.
Akinedele immediately plays a pass out wide to left-back João Moutinho. From here Moutinho plays a first time cross into the Miami box.
A clearly tired Miami team in the 96th minute is unable to deal with the cross. It bounces off an Inter Miami centre back and Nani is first to it. From the six-yard box, he calmly slots it past veteran goalkeeper Luis Robles of Miami. Putting the nail in the coffin and sealing the three points for Orlando City.
This match analysis has shown just how Orlando City was able to overcome Inter Miami. After over 100 days without men’s senior football, both teams were knocking off the dust early. However, after settling down Orlando was able to take control through building possession all over the pitch. Still, Miami struck first with an early goal to start the second half putting them ahead. However, Orlando’s possession eventually wore down a tired Inter Miami team. Ultimately, Nani made the difference showing just how dangerous he can be in 1v1 situations. Providing the tying assist and winning goal for Pareja’s City boys.
As this tournament continues, it will be interesting to see if Miami can dig themselves out of this hole. To earn their first points as an MLS franchise. While, after that display, Orlando will have high hopes of winning their group and making a deep run in this World Cup Style MLS is back tournament.