On the birthday of our country, Orlando City will host DC United at Exploria Stadium. Honestly this seems like a perfect way to celebrate the United States: some good old fashioned soccer. Orlando is coming off of a crazy last couple of weeks. A Gallese masterclass wasn’t enough to stop Cincinnati in the last regular season match, but the Lions made up for it with a thrilling win in the US Open Cup vs Nashville SC in penalty kicks. To be honest, Orlando was not good in this game. Schlegel tied it up in second half stoppage time, which pushed to extra time, which pushed to penalty kicks. It’s the second straight US Open Cup match that the Lions have advanced on pens, with Gallese making the winning stop. They move onto the semifinals. It’s a perfect motivation boost to face a DC United team who sits bottom of MLS with a 4-9-2 record. Nothing short of a win on the 4th of July for the hosts.
Orlando City Stats 7-6-4, Top Goal Scorer: Kara, Top Assister: Pereyra, WLWDL
DC United Stats 4-9-2, Top Goal Scorer: Fountas/Kamara, Top Assister: Gressel, LLLDL
1. Nothing Short of a Win
No excuses on Monday. No hangover from 4th of July celebrations: this has got to be a win. Orlando just had a moral lifting victory against Nashville and brought back some players from suspension. Antonio Carlos also has started to come back as a substitute and has looked solid as he gets back to his old self. Have the goals and creativity been lacking? Yes. But, there’s no reason as to why we can’t dominate this DC side. They are tied for 7th in most goals conceded. They haven’t won since the beginning of May. They’re on the road. Anything short of 3 points here is a big slip up in what looks to be a packed July for the Lions.
2. DC Still Poses a Threat
Even though on paper this should be an easy victory for Orlando City, DC still poses a threat, as does any MLS team trying to steal points on the road. DC shipped out Arriola which has weakened their attack, but pickup Taxiarchis Fountas has been a great addition to the offense and he leads with 6 goals on the season so far. Kamra also leads with Fountas with 6 goals and has been even more efficient than his goal scoring partner. Julian Gressel leads the team with 6 assists and develops the most chances. I got to watch Gressel growing up when he played at Providence College, and he was a fantastic player. I figured he would establish himself in the MLS somewhere. If those 3 players can be monitored throughout the match, things should be ok for the Lions.
3. Who's Going To Step Up For Orlando?
Orlando’s attack has looked extremely lackluster as of late. Against Cincinnati, they could not score a goal. Against Nashville, it took a defender in a bang-bang situation in the box to get one in the back of the net. The offense looked pretty boring, bland, uncreative, and unmotivated. Of course I think Orlando can score against DC, but someone has to step up. Kara has been scoring the goals, but overall his play on the field hasn’t impressed me. He relies on his physicality a lot and occasionally finds himself in the right spot. Torres can’t score if his life depended on it - neither can Mulraney. Pato has the skills in his locker, but he is out of form as well. We’re going to have to see an uptick in effort, desire, and creativity from the attacking players on Monday.
A Look at DC United
~ Working under an interim head coach for the time being
~ struggle on capitalizing on chances and defending set pieces
~ still have some dangerous players in Fountas, Kamara, and Gressel
~ implement a high pressing style and try to capitalize on those mistakes, Orlando need to be able to pass through the press and it’s an important game for their DM’s
Comfortable 2-0 Orlando win. I hope this is a turning point in the season. We are being presented with a weaker opponent that we are expected to beat. If we don’t, there are question marks. Vamos!