Orlando City has had a tumultuous seven days. After falling to FC Dallas 2-0 at home last Saturday, Orlando beat English Premier League side West Bromwich Albion 3-1, but lost midfielder Harrison Heath for a couple of months in the process. Then, a few days later, Brek Shea had surgery for a sports hernia, which usually requires around six weeks of recovery.
Coming into this game tonight against New York Red Bulls, Orlando was able to get some reserve players a bit of much-needed playing time in the game on Wednesday and Head Coach Adrian Heath will have more options when it comes to his lineup. It also helps that midfielder Darwin Ceren and forward Cyle Larin are back from international duty and are both ready to play.
Going against an up-and-down New York Red Bulls side, which has won three of its last four games, there will be three important keys that Orlando will need to focus on, in order to pull out a favorable result.
Shut Down BWP
After his breakout season last year, Bradley Wright-Phillips is learning how to score without the help of Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill, which is a very scary thing for the rest of the league. After only scoring three times in the first nine games of the year, Wright-Phillips has gone on to score five more times in his last 10 games. Just last week, the England native scored two against the New England Revolution in a 4-1 rout of the defending Eastern Conference Champions. While his ability to score goals is notable, he is also a very adept passer, having six assists on the year, which also leads the team. If Aurelien Collin and Seb Hines can keep a close eye on him, it should help soften the Red Bulls' attacking prowess.
Utilize the Wings
With the recent addition of Corey Ashe to the Lions' back line, Orlando now has two pacey players playing at the two fullback positions. With Rafael Ramos on the right and Ashe on the left, they both have the ability to speed down the sidelines and create scoring opportunities. The left side of the field stands out, with the combined pace of Ashe and Carlos Rivas. The Red Bulls will have a tough time trying to contain that much speed down the line, which should give Orlando an advantage.
Get Cyle Larin Involved Early
Coming off of a less-than-stellar Gold Cup, Cyle Larin is back with Orlando City for tonight's game. The only memorable play that Larin had in the tournament was a miss that he skied over the crossbar, after beating the El Salvador goalkeeper in the first game of the tournament. Larin wasn't able to score with the Canadian National Team and is happy to be back with the Lions. The key for this game, in Larin's case, is to get him involved early. Helping him forget about the missed opportunities in the Gold Cup and getting him scoring chances early on in the game will help the young striker's confidence and get him back to doing what he's been doing for Orlando over the course of the season: scoring goals. The sooner he get's back in form, the better the rest of the team will play.
What do you think will be most important for Orlando in tonight's match-up? Let us know in the comments below.