Portland Timbers Match Preview
Orlando City are up against the Portland Timbers in the final of the MLS is Back tournament.
Here we go! It's time for the biggest match in Orlando City's history. That's something we've been saying a lot lately but it's true. LAFC and Minnesota were both massive matches against teams who have a better history than ours. But now, we are into the final of a professional tournament for the first time since we joined MLS. This now takes the mantle for the most important match in our history. The players will need to step up. Legends will need to be made if we are to win our first bit of silverware.
1. Don't be stupid with the ball
The way we like to play is almost perfect for Portland to counter. We like to keep possession through the midfield then distribute the ball to the wings before getting the ball back into the middle of the box to create chances. Where that plays into Portland's hands is when the ball is in the midfield. They love to sit back and wait for the right moment before pouncing when the ball is in that area. After they win possession, they transition quickly to great effect. They destroyed NYCFC by doing that and if we aren't smart with the ball in the midfield, we will be on the receiving end of a similar scoreline.
Luckily, Pareja seems to have cut the stupid passes in midfield out of our game. We noticed it and talked about it after the Philadelphia game on the Lionsblog Podcast. We noticed that we rarely attempt dangerous through balls or crosses. Instead, if we see a situation where we feel we could lose the ball and get countered on, we stop and look for the safer option. We must play it safe in the final if we want to be competitive in this match.
2. The supporting cast needs to step up in attack
While the whole team has been consistently good in this tournament, Nani has been superb (in terms of end product at least). Our Portuguese winger has 3 goals and 3 assists, meaning that he has directly contributed to 54.5% of our goals in this tournament. While it's great to have someone so good on our team, we need his supporting cast to step up. Portland are going to zero in on him and that will leave extra space for Pereyra, Akindele, and Mueller to affect the game. They need to do just that. I believe that if we do score in this match, it will be one of those three players because of how much focus Nani will get.
It's as simple as that baby. Do what it takes to win. Get that $1,000,000 and get that CONCACAF Champions League spot locked down. Mueller said today in the pre-match press conference that "the team is obviously high on confidence right now." Now is the time to back that confidence up with a win. LET'S FUCKING GOOOOOOOOO.
Time: 8:30 PM EST
Where to Watch: ESPN, ESPN Deportes, ESPN app, TSN in Canada
Stadium: ESPN Wide World of Sports
Team News (ORL): Dwyer (out)
Team News (POR): Asprilla (out), Y. Chara (questionable), Farfan (questionable)
Predicted Lineup: (4-2-3-1) Gallese, Ruan, Carlos, Jansson, Moutinho, Mendez, Rosell, Mueller, Pereyra, Nani, Akindele
Score Prediction: 1-0 Win
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'Til next time, this has been Gavin Rushnell and #VamosOrlando