And yet, I don’t know where I am in this team. The Purple Lions have a lot of talent in attack, but it doesn’t stick yet. They’re less talented in defense, but they’ve mostly held together – and have done so even without Antonio Carlos this weekend (they’ll have to get used to it). Of course, your mileage may vary depending on how much value you place on defensive performance given the Fire were without Xherdan Shaqiri, who missed an injury, and considering the effects of Brian Gutierrez’s red card in the 40th minute. .
But back to the attack. Orlando did a really good job of getting and staying on the foot once they mounted a man and then being consistently dangerous in transition when Chicago had to push to tie after Ercan Kara finally came on the board at the 59th minute (this is one of two times Slonina was grounded, which he faced in the post-match presser). I think fans will remember the two or three more goals Orlando left on the board – Kara missed a wide-open net on a rebound; Benji Michel could not test Gaga Slonina on a delicious cross from Alexandre Pato; Pato rang the crossbar after Tesho Akindele played him alone on Slonina – but the unchanging fact is that if you generate good chances for your attackers like this, your attackers will eventually finish.
The fact is, however, that Orlando City haven’t been able to consistently generate good chances for their strikers like this. Through seven games, they’re on 1.14 xG for 90, according to TruMedia via StatsPerform, which is right in the middle of the table. They’re doing better in progressive passes per 90 and a few other key metrics, suggesting better attacking days are ahead, but all of those numbers are skewed by their attacking outing on Saturday.
In other words, playing against the Fire at 10, they were rampant. Before Gutierrez’s dispatch, however, there was a lot of this: