With Matt on vacation and time to spare, I decided to write this mid-week's match preview. Coming off the back of a lucky win at home against our southern rivals Inter Miami, we now head across the country to face a struggling Colorado Rapids. Heading into another late kickoff, the Lions will need to bring their A-game if they are to win two matches in a row for the first time since April.
Orlando City Stats
8-7-4, Top Goal Scorer: Kara, Top Assister: Pereyra, WLWLW
Colorado Rapids Stats
5-8-5, Top Goal Scorer: Rubio, Top Assister: Barrios, DLLDL
1. Take This Seriously
There have been many examples over the past two seasons where Orlando City are seen as the favorites heading into a match but when it comes time to play, the team struggles to perform. Results against sides that Orlando City are seen as "better than" tend to be closer battles than fans want or expect.
For a while now, I have personally speculated that the players get too confident in these types of matches and feel the job is halfway done. I feel, as an outsider looking in, that the players feel they are the better team, causing them not to try as hard from the opening whistle until of course, they're 1-0 down. In reality, we are more equal to these teams and must take them seriously.
Colorado are STRUGGLING at the moment (no wins in 5 matches) and Orlando City have been good on the road this season. It's time to take these games seriously and make sure we give the necessary effort to come out with a result. The Orlando City I know will most likely limp their way to a draw. Surprise me.
2. To Rotate or Not To Rotate?
Orlando City are just at the beginning of an intense 3 weeks, including a friendly against Arsenal, and two huge matchups against Atlanta United and New York Red Bulls. It will be interesting to see how the team is rotated throughout the month. Do we rotate early or do we go for the points now, possibly burning ourselves out in the process?
My suggestion: go all out for this win against Colorado. It's our best chance to win an MLS match before the DC United match on July 31st. In between that sits Atlanta United away and Philadelphia Union at home. Use those games as rotation games before the Open Cup Semifinal and secure these points.
3. Does Benji at 9 Make Sense Here?
We have seen both Kara and Pato struggle against three center-back systems on multiple occasions this season. Pato was INVISIBLE against Montreal and Kara did next to nothing in both of the Cincinnati matches. And don't even get me started on the Red Bulls match... We need more mobility and runs into the channels to stretch a back three. Neither Kara nor Pato will make those runs and Tesho doesn't have the speed to worry defenders when he does get in behind.
Benji up top might make sense here, with Mulraney, Pereyra, and Facundo behind him. Trying to build up through the Rapids defense isn't going to work. We've tried that tactic multiple times when facing back threes. It's time to try something new.
A Look at Colorado Rapids
~ Usually set up in a 3-4-3, but have gone with a back 4 two times in their last three matches
~ Rubio likes to drop deep, link play, and make forward runs off of Zardes. We will need to keep an eye on him
~ Colorado have lost their last two homes matches
~ Just lost two big players in Auston Trusty and Mark Anthony Kaye to transfers
All signs point to another hard-to-watch performance from Orlando City. I'm thinking a tight 1-1 draw will be the outcome for us hopeful Orlando City fans. I just can't see how we can predict a win at the moment and that was the score in the preseason friendly. Vamos!