Today's the day that Orlando City SC plays its biggest preseason match so far. The Lions take on New York City FC at 7:30 p.m. The Carolina Challenge Cup tournament, which lasts all week, is the best chance for some of Orlando City's players to show their abilities in (somewhat) meaningful games.
We've spoken about position battles on this site many times in the past, and this tournament in Charleston will be the best and last opportunity until the season opener in two weeks. Orlando will play NYCFC, Houston Dynamo and the host team Charleston Battery over the next week and, thanks to FIFA 15 and some clever computer workings (Thanks to ModdingWay for the help), I was able to simulate all three games. Today, however, I'll be going into detail about the game vs NYCFC.
Orlando's starting 11 for the game:
G: Ricketts; D Ramos, Collin, St. Ledger, Shea; M Okugo, Higuita, Molino, Kaká, Neal; F Paterson.
Both teams came into the match with a 2-1/2 star rating, making them fairly even. Orlando lined up with its traditional 4-2-3-1 and NYCFC lined up with a 4-4-2 diamond shape. The game itself was fairly similar as well. Possession was fairly close, with Orlando having the slight advantage, 53% to 47%.
New York was able to strike first, after a miscue from trialist Sean St. Ledger in the ninth minute. He tried to pass to the wing to Brek Shea and David Villa came in to take it away. After a few dribbles, Villa crossed it into the box and found the head of Adam Nemec, who placed it into the top left corner of the net over the outstretched hand of Donovan Ricketts.
Orlando began to press higher and create more chances after that, with a shot from Martin Paterson hitting the top of the crossbar in the 37th minute. Heading into the break, NYCFC held a 1-0 lead.
The second half, however was completely different. Orlando came out of the gate firing on all cylinders. After an interception in the 53rd minute, Lewis Neal played a nice 1-2 combination with Brek Shea, eventually leading Neal into the box behind the defense. Neal tried to play a low cross to the waiting Paterson in front of goal, however, NYCFC defender Kwame Watson-Siriboe slid in to push the ball away. Unfortunately for him, he pushed the ball right into his net for the own goal.
After that, it didn't get any better for New York. Just seven minutes later, Kaká and Kevin Molino came down the right side of the field, played a nice two man game between themselves and eventually got Molino into the box with no one around him. He calmly finished into the left of the net, giving the Lions a 2-1 lead. After the goal, Kaká was subbed out for Tony Cascio and Molino moved into the central attacking mid role. Once there, the former USL MVP began to control the game.
After NYC's Mix Diskerud turned the ball over in the 77th minute, Rafael Ramos was able to play a beautiful over the top ball to Molino who, after a nice piece of skill, got around the defender and blasted a shot past goalie Josh Saunders from just outside the 18-yard box. This gave Orlando a commanding 3-1 lead with just over 10 minutes to play. After the goal, Orlando subbed out Paterson and brought on Bryan Rochez, while NYCFC brought on Patrick Mullins and Khiry Shelton.
While NYC tried to get back into the game, Orlando held firm, not allowing anything to get through their defense. Finally, to add icing on the cake, another miscue from Watson-Siriboe allowed Rochez to steal a pass from him inside the 18-yard box and easily place the ball in the back of the net, ending the game with Orlando winning, 4-1.
As much as I doubt this will be the score for the game tonight, it is an interesting prospect for sure. Also, apologies for not having actual video of this game. There were some technical glitches with the game itself and it was not able to record properly. For the game vs the Battery in a few days, hopefully I will have some video to show!