The last time the Orlando City Lions and Chicago Fire met, a 1-1 draw forced both clubs to head home wishing they had all three points. Chicago has been a familiar opponent this season with two MLS matches and a U.S. Open Cup meeting already. What did the Fire show City during the Aug. 29 match, and how can the Lions capitalize?
The Fire Spreads Quickly
Yeah, I know the header is corny. Someone's gotta pick the low hanging fruit...no?
Orlando City dominated possession in the second league meeting between the two clubs, registering at 67 percent to double up Chicago and do their best to keep the ball away from the potent counter that Sean Rollins has so kindly detailed for us here on The Mane Land.
That counter still struck -- often. When you double a team up in possession, you sure as hell don't expect them to put 12 shots on target to your 13, and that's exactly what the Fire did, coming just one shot short of the Lions' total.
Chicago's shots were quality as well, with 67 percent of their tries coming inside the 18-yard box, opposed to Orlando's 42 percent. When a team can strike that quickly and with that much venom, it isn't something you can ignore in your game plan. Sean mentioned that we should see improvements defensively as Brek Shea returns to the lineup. Be on the lookout for the burgeoning chemistry in the midfield -- it seems like whoever lines up with Cristian Higuita is bound to look pretty damn good. It's not a coincidence.
That David Accam Fella is Pretty Good
This isn't exactly news, I'll admit, but with Shaun Maloney out of the picture, David Accam is absolutely the player the Fire works around. Attacking up the left side 37 percent of the time, Accam thrived as the team ran through him. Three key passes to go with five successful crosses show he's a willing play-maker, and his goal shows his total versatility.
With eight goals in 16 appearances, we know the man is dangerous with the ball at his feet. Look for Rafael Ramos to be on his "A game" for what is sure to be a dynamic match within the match.
Pressuring the Box Makes Good Things Happen
These seven words are Pedro Ribeiro's life creed. He has them painted on every wall of his house. It's written in Sharpie on his rear view mirror. He has it tattooed on the inside of his eyelids.
Okay, none of that is true (probably).
This has, however, been true for Inchy's boys all year. It's been a badge of honor when the team is in form, and provided encouraging efforts when the team has hit the skids. We saw a great example of the Lions putting the ball near the net and -- with effort, positioning, and a gentle kiss from Lady Luck herself -- coming out with the equalizer in the last match against Chicago.
The Fire, while dangerous, are in last place for a reason. They can be prone to mistakes, and thus, can be beat. Pressuring the box and, by proxy, the keeper, is the flame-retardant blanket City needs to win the season series against Chicago. With Brek's return, Bryan Rochez finally coming into form, Cyle Larin getting a solid rest and Adrian Winter beginning to come out of his shell, the pieces appear to be in place to make it happen.