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Three Keys for Orlando City against D.C. United

The Lions will be looking for their first home win of the season tonight against D.C. United. What can they do to send their supporters home happy?

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando City returns home tonight for a crucial match-up with one of the big boys in the Eastern Conference, as D.C. United makes their first trip to the Citrus Bowl.

Last season was a turning point for United, as the Black and Red went from a last-place club in 2013 to a team that  finished the regular season just five points away from the Supporters Shield last season. If the early results are any indication, there's no reason D.C. can't repeat its success this year and United should give Adrian Heath's men all they can handle in this one.

There's also some extra incentive for Orlando to take three points off this match, because a win would catapult the Lions into first place in Eastern Conference. While it won't be easy, here are three things Orlando City can do to ensure they get the win tonight and deliver their first home win of the the season.

Hit D.C. on the counter

Boasting one of MLS's best young goalkeepers in Bill Hamid, D.C. United is always a tough team to score on and Orlando should expect another stingy defensive effort from the club when they meet tonight. The only team to score on and beat United this season has been the New York Red Bulls and they did it through a pretty simple formula.

Get after United on the counterattack.

While the Lions might not have anyone who can hold up play quite like NYRB striker Bradley Wright-Phillips, they were still able to find success on the counter against Montreal last week. Pedro Ribeiro has shown an uncanny ability to pressure the defense into making mistakes, whether it be forcing a Tyler Deric own goal against Houston or stripping Marco Donadel and finding Kaka for the equalizer in Montreal.

If Orlando's midfielders can force D.C. to kick the ball around the center of the pitch, all it takes is one lazy back pass for Ribeiro to take advantage.

Watch out for Jairo Arrieta

I don't know if Arrieta is a vengeful man, but Orlando City better hope this one-time Lion doesn't come back to bite them tonight.

Arrieta was drafted by Orlando from Columbus Crew SC in last year's MLS Expansion Draft, before the Costa Rican striker was dealt to D.C. before the start of the season. It hasn't taken him long to make an impression with his new club.

Arrieta scored the first goal of the season for United in a 1-0 victory over Montreal and has played well alongside Chris Pontius at the top of Head Coach Ben Olsen's 4-4-2 formation. He'll test an Orlando City back line that could very well be without Brek Shea, if he's not match ready after a USMNT spell. Following a less than stellar performance against Montreal, the defenders will need to rebound against D.C. if the Lions hope to grab a victory.

Get Kevin Molino involved on offense

Molino has yet to find the back of the net as an MLS player, but he'll rejoin an Orlando City attack that's beginning to put it together offensively.

While Molino certainly has the ability to become a dangerous player in MLS, he looked tentative in his first three matches of 2015. It's understandable, considering many of Orlando's attacking players are still learning to play together, but Molino should benefit from the improved passing displayed by this group against Montreal on Saturday.

If he can find some open space in the box, Molino will have one of the best midfielders in the game providing him scoring opportunities and an increasingly confident Pedro Ribeiro keeping the defense busy. Look for Molino to make an impact tonight, if not on the scorer's sheet, than with his improved play in the attacking third.