For the first time, Orlando City will play and host Charlotte FC on Saturday, April 30th at 7:30 PM EST. Charlotte is a new MLS team and should not be taken lightly, as they defeated the reigning Supporter’s Shield Champions in the New England Revolution earlier this year. The Lions are coming off of one of their worst performances of the season so far, with a resounding, eye-opening 3-0 loss to the New York Red Bulls. Now, it is simply about which team we will get on Saturday: an angry/pissed-off Orlando with something to prove, or one that will come out flat again. It’s time to bounce back.
Orlando City Stats
4-3-2, Top Goal Scorer: Kara/Pato/Torres, Top Assister: Torres, LWWLD
Charlotte FC Stats
3-5-1, Top Goal Scorer: Swiderski, Top Assister: Bender, DWLWL
1. Bounce Back on Defense
Orlando prides itself on being a very good defensive team and last match vs New York was the worst display of that killer defense I’ve ever seen. It was mistakes in that back that resulted in the Red Bulls putting the game to bed. Schlegel got a bit unlucky with the penalty call, and in the review article I was tearing the ref apart. However, what is Schlegel doing flailing his arms in the air like that? Such goofy defending. I know Orlando fans are wishing for Carlos to recover sooner than later, considering he was a staple of the defense and one of the best center backs in the league before his injury. Against Charlotte, I expect them to be less threatening going forward, so a clean sheet is a must to restore confidence.
2. Home Turf
Home court, field, turf, whatever you want to call it, is a massive factor in sports. Apparently, the Lions don’t really care about it and will let anyone come and dictate play at Exploria Stadium. That ends Saturday. A clean sheet and dominant performance from the Lions could be the spark needed going forward. Pareja really needs to get his tactics right this game. The Lions are so good on the road but for some reason become very hesitant and sensitive in Florida. I expect the midfield to get on the ball early and often in this game with Torres and Pereyra spraying passes around in the attacking zone. The defense needs to have a “no bullshit” mentality with the ball and clear away any attacking threat. Against the Red Bulls, a lot of chances resulted in loose balls at the top of the 18 being picked up again. Dictate the pace of play and I guarantee the Lions win this game.
3. Midfield Wins Games
If Charlotte FC is good at something, it’s disrupting opposition play in the midfield. Charlotte ranks 7th in interceptions with 90 and fourth in the league in defensive pressures on the ball with 1,445. Take that into consideration with Orlando’s sloppy midfield play against the Red Bulls, and it could be a good battle. Urso, Pereyra, Araujo, and Mendez are usually sharper and quicker in possession, but it just did not happen last week. The holding midfielders need to control the pace of the game but it all comes down to Pereyra. He needs to be sharper than a tack. Find the right final ball to slip in a winger or a forward. If Orlando can move up the field in possession and create chances, no doubt they win this game. But will they be able to keep the ball effectively? We will see on Saturday.
A Look at Charlotte FC
~ bottom half of the league in goals scored this season
~ 4 goals from outside the box, leads MLS, central midfield needs to be alert for long range efforts
~ Excellent in defense so far and in defensive midfield, sparking counter attacks by breaking up attacking play
~ Former Leicester City defender Christian Fuchs is the leader for this team
2-0 Orlando City bounce back. I wanted to type 3 or 4 goals, maybe I was just feeling confident, but I don’t think the offense is clicking that well yet. A clean sheet would do wonders for this team and I’m putting it out in the universe that it’s going to happen. Do it at Exploria, Lions. Vamos!