When the Orlando City Lions hosted the Philadelphia Union in early August, both teams came up empty in Orlando's only 0-0 draw of the year. For a miracle playoff berth to happen, Orlando will need to blow the doors off the Union and run up the score so much it'd make Bill Belichick glow with pride.
What can be learned from that draw to help produce the needed result?
Attacking on the Flanks Has to Be Better
An odd lineup used in the match saw Lewis Neal and Darwin Cerén play on either side of Kaká in the midfield, and it was utterly useless. Lewis Neal was, well, Lewis Neal. Cerén was both uncomfortable moving forward and ineffective tracking back in an unfamiliar role.
The Mane Land's own Scott Crumbly laid it out for us in his Five Takeaways following the game -- the attack was toothless.
That is the saddest passing chart you'll see all season.
Luckily for everyone, the City attack has been plenty lethal down the stretch; Orlando is averaging over 2.5 goals per game during the current five-game win streak.
With Brek Shea -- who missed the August match with injury -- returning, following last week's yellow-card suspension, we should see a much more aggressive attack.
The Union Back Line Will Be Waiting
These guys are no joke. In August, the quartet of Raymon Gaddis, Richie Marquez, Steven Vitoria, and Fabinho had 11 tackles, playing inside the jersey of any Lion that dared approach the box. These boys are aggressive, but that comes with a fault.
With 55 goals allowed, the Union are tied for the second highest total in the league. Coming into this match, the Union have allowed at least three goals in back-to-back games, so recent trends suggest that if Orlando can work the ball around the defenders flying about, the results will be favorable.
Cristian Maidana is Dangerous
Maidana was the man the Union played around, and he was threatening throughout. He pestered the defense with his frequent and accurate crosses (7-16), pinpoint free play passing (80.9%), and three key passes. His four shots on net and team leading (by nearly 20) 76 touches are the clearest indicators that this was his offense.
It will take some strong defensive work to keep this man in check.
Ahem...Did someone say Cristian Higuita and Darwin Cerén?
Tune in, ladies and gentlemen. Your Lions are out to earn you three more points to cap off what has been a magical 2015 MLS regular season.