Disclaimer: My goal is to create a scouting report of Orlando City as an opposing team would prepare for playing against Orlando City. These are one- to two-page reports that players receive after a film session. They highlight the strengths and weaknesses of a team. My aim is not to be negative about Orlando City but display what I think are the the club's strengths and weaknesses in a critical manner. My experience includes being a nationally licensed coach, a former NCAA Division 1 player, and having had some small professional trials. Though this experience gives me insight, I am not an MLS level coach, and I do miss things, but the following is my opinion and is open to interpretation. I will break down what I see and not be overly critical of players and tactics. I am not Adrian Heath, nor will I ever have the experience he has. I simply am here to educate the reader about how I interpret the game. I will try to be as unbiased as I can. I root for Orlando City, so I will be setting aside my fandom to give you a tactical breakdown. You won't see me second guess a coach, player, or be over critical of a play without giving you the evidence to support it. That's my promise to you, the reader.
Orlando City's formation is a 4-2-3-1 and is based on a foundation of strong central midfield play. The outside backs like to get forward into the attack and find combination play with the outside midfielders or serve balls in to the center forward. They don't counter fast, as they look to build up the play in the midfield and keep possession. The team lacks discipline and can be taken out of their game through physical play. If you are playing them away, a tie is not a bad result. The crowd and weather will play a huge factor. Several teams have found success in playing defensively, sitting back in a shell, and countering when playing in Florida. The back line is average and has difficulties with keeping its shape. Outside backs get caught forward in the attack, allowing opportunities to counter in the space in the flanks.
As Kaká goes, so does Orlando City. There isn't another MLS player that has the soccer IQ that Kaká has. The Brazilian will dictate the play and has the ability to find seams in the back line. We need to ensure we are organized in the back, as he will find our weakness and exploit it. Kaká isn't a factor defensively, but he doesn't have to be with his defensive midfield. He is a special player with the ability to create chances when the defense is positioned correctly. Physical play will work early on, but he will adjust and find ways out of the physical situations. He is a pass-first, shoot-later player.
He looks to set up Cyle Larin or the outside midfielders making runs forward. This being said, he can't be left alone to shoot within 20 yards, as he has the ability to pick out the corner and punish opposing teams. He is one of their set-piece takers and if it's within range, he will be shooting. He also takes their penalty kicks and usually shoots to the keeper's right. There was one exception last year, where he placed it up the middle after the penalty seconds before was saved.
Cyle Larin (#9)-CF
Cyle Larin is coming off a record-setting year as the leading goal scorer among rookies. Larin is a true number 9, as he finds space and looks to finish every chance. He is the complete opposite to Kaká, as he will shoot in every circumstance. He is strong in the air and has the physical ability to challenge the best MLS defenders. He has the ability to score from distance and will put his body on the line to score goals. He has the fitness for 70 minutes. After that, he picks his moments to find to attack. Physical play has helped in keeping him contained, however, he learned over his first season to keep composed. The best option is to keep him in front of you and allow someone else to beat us.
He is the emotional leader of Orlando City. He will put everything on the line to ensure you do not score. He is an MLS veteran that can play himself out of pressure situations. He is a strong tackler and is the communicator on the back line. He is aggressive to the point he sometimes pulls the back four out of position. He is great in the air and does well both defending and attacking corners. His emotions can get him into trouble and cause unnecessary yellow cards. He makes last-ditch, questionable tackles in the penalty area that may bring PKs.
Kevin Molino-(#18)-CM- Coming off ACL surgery.
Kevin had a record-breaking 2014 in the USL. He has the skills to break out this year and is someone we will need to keep an eye on. His season was cut short last year as he was adjusting to the speed of play in MLS. He has had a strong preseason and is poised to have a breakout year. In his few matches in 2015, his tendency was to pass back to Kaká. We shouldn't see that, as he has the ambition to be the secondary scorer behind Larin. He will look to get forward and shoot whenever possible. He is the wild card this year and, depending on how the match goes, could be a factor.
Players to take advantage of:
Rafael Ramos (#27)-RB- Young, aggressive defender, immature and loses focus.
Cristian Higuita-(#7) CDM- Young, strong defender, discipline problem, doesn't get forward in attack.
Joe Bendik (#1)-GK- Average MLS Goalkeeper, makes the saves he needs to, weak on crosses.
CB2- The center back position is an open position but the lack of cohesion will make whoever starts the weaker of the two backs. This is the person we should exploit when attacking.
That's what a scouting report would look like for a team playing the Lions, in my opinion. It provides the team with a list of players to focus on and ones that can potentially be exploited. Now it's up to Orlando City's players to change the scouting report or prove it ineffective.