- Matthew Laboissonniere
New York Red Bulls Match Preview
It’s been a good time to be a Lion as of late. In MLS play, the Lions defeated the Crew on the road while adding a goal of the season contender in the process. On Wednesday, they defeated the Tampa Bay Rowdies to move along in the U.S. Open Cup and will now take on the Union in the next round, which could potentially be the toughest test yet. On the 24th, Orlando will host the New York Red Bulls back at Exploria Stadium in an attempt to maintain their second-place standing in the Eastern Conference and to keep this train rolling.
The Red Bulls sit right behind the Lions in third place in the Eastern Conference with 11 points and a game in hand. The Red Bulls have been firing all over on the offensive end of things and will give Orlando lots of trouble in attacking areas. They know how to win big games as well - including snatching a late road game-winner against the reigning Supporter’s Shield champs in the New England Revolution. The Red Bulls dominate teams in terms of shots and possession, which could present issues for the purple, but who's to say they cannot take advantage of the counter attack. This match is a real test to see if the Lions are for real this season.
Orlando City Stats
4-2-2, Top Goal Scorer: Urso/Kara/Pato, Top Assister: Torres, WWLDW
New York Red Bulls
Stats 3-2-2, Top Goal Scorer: Morgan, Top Assister: Amaya, WDLWD
1. Keep the Offense Flowing
The Kara goal against the Crew was something Lions fans could only dream of in week’s past. Now that we’ve seen it in real life in front of our eyes, it’s time the Lions keep putting great team moves together in the attacking third. Signing technically gifted players like Torres and Pato are signs you want to play this type of soccer, and Pareja must continue to implement a quick style of play moving forward, with intricate passing between the wingers and forwards. With Pereyra sitting in the middle, he can orchestrate everything with the ball at his feet. Keep building on this momentum and watch the floodgates continue to flow.
2. Play Through Torres
In just 8 regular-season games, Facundo Torres is already up to 4 assists on the year. Pretty impressive for a player playing in a new country and style of play. It’s without question he’s a player for the future with a bright career ahead of him, but it’s not too early to give him the keys. All of his assists have been quality delivery and service to other forwards and midfielders; nothing has come lucky for him at all. When you watch the matches, he makes excellent decisions on the ball, knows when to play quick or slow it down, and draws attention and fouls from fullbacks. He’s been robbed of some assists as well in certain matches this year where we couldn't finish our chances. Special things are happening with this kid on the field and we need to capitalize.
3. Dominate the Passing Game
The beautiful game is won in the midfield, and so far the central midfielders for Orlando have been my unsung heroes of the season. Mendez and Araujo could have a field day on the ball because the Red Bulls have not been a great passing team so far this season. The Red Bulls rank 27th in pass completion percentage. They are last in the league at 43.3% completion percentage on long balls, or passes longer than 30 yards. Exploiting this weakness could give the Lions an advantage on the counterattack on Sunday.
A Look at the Red Bulls
~ Top of league in shots and chances, but close to the bottom in passing and build up play
~ Morgan leading team in goals (3) and Barlow has been a huge spark off the bench as well
~ Stout defensive team, tied for fourth in MLS by only conceding 6 goals so far
~ Aggressive, physical team, rank 1st in tackles won (106) and pressures (1,688)
The Red Bulls are going to be a tough matchup. They will pepper Gallese and the back line and I’m not sure they can hold on. The Lions will carry tired legs as well from their midweek match. Give me 1-1 with a late equalizer from Orlando, and let’s hope they can at least make it an uncomfortable match for the visitors.