- Matthew Laboissonniere
Nashville SC Match Preview
The Lions are back in action this Wednesday, June 29th as they host Nashville SC in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals. The Open Cup is always a great opportunity for some midweek footy and to see more players getting action, but it’s funny how different teams approach it. I saw Cincinnati stroll into Gillette and put out the biggest B team I’ve ever seen, and got spanked 5-1. Now, Orlando finds themselves into the quarters after winning the last match in penalties. While they sit in a decent spot in the Eastern Conference, the last couple outings have not been that exciting. So what do the Lions do? Do they play some substitutes, bring back some reserve players? Or do they attack this head on and try to win the damn thing. Personally, I chose the latter.
Orlando City Stats 7-6-4, Top Goal Scorer: Kara, Top Assister: Pereyra, LWDLW Nashville SC Stats 7-5-5, Top Goal Scorer: Mukhtar, Top Assister: Mukhtar, WLDWW
1. Pump Some Confidence
If Orlando needs anything right now, it’s a little confidence boost. It’s evident that on paper, the team has enough talent to be competing in the final race. Due to inconsistent performances, injuries, and yellow card suspensions (I’m looking directly at you Robin), they’ve dropped a lot of points they could have held onto. Now, they have a chance for a little confidence booster and a trip to a major cup semi final on Wednesday. If I’m Pareja, I’m putting out a decent 11 on that field. Hopefully Pereyra and Moutinho are good to go. Gallese has been excellent as of late, but he may deserve a rest. Would love to see Pato get something going in this match too.
2. Might Be Time To Rest Torres
Don’t want to get thrown to the wolves for this, but I’ve been thinking about it for a couple matches now. Facundo Torres brought a lot of excitement to the Lions when he first got here. It’s clear he’s got the technical ability, work ethic, and desire when he’s out there. But the results have not been as productive as of late. I’d like to see him in the box more, shooting more, making the critical final pass more. He’s been crucial in the build up, but Orlando bought him for the goals and assists. The reason he is pretty much a staple in the starting 11 is because of Orlando’s lack of depth. The only real reliable attackers this team has is Kara, Pereyra, Pato (ehhhh), and Torres. When even just one of them isn’t performing great, the attack is not the same. Even with all that said, I think it’s safe to not start Facundo this match. He could come on in the 60th minute and make an impact, kinda like how he did in the match to send them to these quarterfinals. Who would replace him? That’s up to Pareja. But a little rest for Torres couldn’t hurt anybody that badly.
3. Full Strength Back Line?
Last match, we saw our beloved Antonio Carlos return to the pitch after missing a lengthy amount of time due to injury. He looked pretty decent in his return and almost equalized on a header off of a Pato cross. When he’s in there, the whole unit just seems so much more stable. It’s unlikely he’ll start but I can dream, alright. An Open Cup match could be a good opportunity to see him getting more minutes. Jansson is back after serving a suspension and Moutinho hopefully did not pick up a serious injury in the warmup of last game. The right back can then be filled with the likes of Smith or Ruan, take your pick. If Carlos is healthy, I wonder if Pareja will roll with the natural back 4 that started the season.
Orlando Player I’m Keeping My Eye On: Mulraney
Orlando’s attacking players have certainly been a bit out of sorts as of late. If my prediction that Torres may rest comes true, this game is a great opportunity for Mulraney to finally stand out. He’s been getting starts the past couple of matches, but has only been putting out average performances. His main competition is Benji Michel, who isn’t in great form now either. Mulraney outweighs Michel in most categories, except maybe pure pace. On Wednesday, I expect Mulraney to get the start and I want him to take full advantage. As weird as it sounds, it’s a good chance to stand out if you play well while other attackers continue to play poor. He does a great job tracking back and helping his fullback, but he’s weak in distribution. I’m looking for him to bounce back and have a solid game on Wednesday night.
I just have a funny feeling about this game. Wednesday Night Footy. I have a college buddy going, it’s under the light at Exploria, I actually back Orlando to win this game. I could see it being long and drawn out and going to extra time, but the Lions are going to win this match. Vamos!