Orlando City will play the New England Revolution for the second time in three weeks on Saturday, this time away from home. The last time these two teams met, the game ended on a controversial penalty kick call that allowed New England to salvage a draw. Orlando City didn't fare well in the first half, but the Lions started to take over in the second half. Kaká is questionable to play on Saturday, which will push Adrian Heath to make adjustments.
Minimizing Defensive Third Turnovers
The shape of Orlando City is most vulnerable as the outside backs are moving forward. There were multiple times in the first New England match where a turnover by a defensive midfielder turned into a counter attack the other way. Orlando will need to possess the ball better in the defensive third as it moves the ball up the field this week, and the play of the central midfield will be crucial in holding possession. If Kaká plays, this will be less of an issue, but if the Brazilian is out, Orlando City needs better play from Antonio Nocerino or any of the other central midfielders they plug in for the captain.
Limit the Services from Chris Tierney
The Lions will need to do a better job on Chris Tierney, if he plays after tweaking a hamstring against D.C. United, Tierney was a focal point in the success for the New England Revolution attack in the first match-up. He was able to outwork the right side of the Orlando City formation. Rafael Ramos will more than likely be the right back and, although he rebounded to have a better game last week, he will have the role of watching Tierney's runs. If Tierney gets his space, the Lions must adjust and deny his crosses, forcing the play back to the midfield. Denying the crosses should happen within the normal run of defending. Orlando City will need to be aware of Tierney's runs forward and possibly keep Ramos from going forward as fast as he normally does to maintain defensive shape. Due to Tierney's hamstring injury, Orlando City may get lucky and see Je-Vaughn Watson, a less dangerous outside back.
Center Back Progression
This really is not an adjustment, but an observation on what is needed for Orlando City to make the playoffs. The center backs need to progress each game and learn from their mistakes in prior matches. The play of Seb Hines and Tommy Redding will be the most important indicator to see if this team can take the next step.
During this match-up against the New England Revolution we will see how the center backs deal with handling numbers in the central midfield against the attack. Lee Nguyen will try to draw the center backs out of shape. Redding and Hines will need to stay connected and compact to force the attack to go outside.
The next thing to watch is the how Hines and Redding handle crosses. On the Teal Bunbury goal in the first Revs match, the Lions didn't do well to pass the mark off to another player and with a simple shove to Redding's back, Bunbury was all alone in front of the goal for an easy tap-in. The center backs need to own the center of the park and stay connected.
We need to see progression from Hines and Redding every game. Consistency will make this progression happen faster. We need to see Hines and Redding keep compact defensively, stay organized within the back four, and win key balls served in. If we see better progression, the sky is the limit. If not, we need to shop for a Designated Player center back.
Orlando City will have a difficult task on Saturday when it travels to New England. The Revolution is coming off a 3-0 loss to D.C United. The Lions haven't had much success in New England, but Orlando City did well to make adjustments at home. If the Lions can make the adjustments they could leave Gillette Stadium with points.