When I finish a loaf of bread, I collect the bread ties on the top of my microwave in a little pile. Over the last four weeks I've taken to calling that little pile, "Orlando City B."
Having settled for a point four weeks in a row, tonight adding another tie to the pile for a fifth week straight might well be a positive result. The young Lions of Orlando City B (6-6-7, 25 points) travel northward to Kentucky to meet league-leading Louisville City (12-2-6, 42 points) at Louisville Slugger Field in an Eastern Conference showdown between teams that share nearly identical uniforms. Kickoff will be at 7:30 p.m.
If you've forgotten about the last time these two teams met, there may be some other traumatic events in your life that your psycho-immune system has flushed away for you. After going down a man, Louisville City improbably scored two goals in three minutes to come from behind and beat OCB, 4-3, at the Titan Soccer Complex in Melbourne, in what could be negatively spun as an incredible choke job or positively spun as growing pains for a young team.
Since that victory, the league leaders from the bourbon capital of the world have maintained their position as the pace setters in both the Eastern Conference and the league. The Royals (yes, I'm sticking with that nickname) went 4-0-3 before taking just their second loss of the season on the road to rival Cincinnati just a week ago. As has become custom in a year and a half under former Orlando City Lion James O'Connor, Louisville boasts one of the highest scoring attacks in the USL (second in the league with 37 goals) led by forward Chandler Hoffman, who is second to LA's Jack McBean in the scoring title race with 14 goals.
Last Week's Lineups
OCB: Mark Ridgers; Zach Hayden, Mikey Ambrose, Devron Garcia, Kyle McFadden; Andrew Ribeiro, Tony Rocha, Lewis Neal, Marcus Obekop, Jonathan Mendoza; Michael Cox
Louisville: Greg Ranjitsingh; Ben Newnam, Paco Craig, Sean Reynolds, Kyle Smith; Aodhan Quinn*, Guy Abend; Andrew Lubahn, Niall McCabe, Kadeem Dacres; Chandler Hoffman
*Quinn, who is Louisville's captain, will miss tonight's game due to suspension
Keys to Victory
- Catch Louisville Relaxing at Home: There have been few weaknesses in the year and a half of existence for Louisville City. However, one such area centers around homecoming games. Since debuting last season, Louisville has gone just 5-4-3 in games which the team is returning to Louisville Slugger Field after playing a road game. If OCB can catch Louisville exhaling at home, the Lions might be able to catch the Royals with a haymaker and steal points on the road.
- Quick Passing Tempo: If there's one place that this Louisville City team (or any team, for that matter) is susceptible defensively, it is against a quick passing attack. Orlando City B exploited that fact for the team's only goal in the first trip to Louisville Slugger Field, but then couldn't duplicate that sequence again for the rest of the game. If OCB can keep the tempo of play high, the Lions improve their chances of pulling off the upset.
- Don't Tie: Perhaps I'm taking the title of this segment a little to literally, but one "key to victory" would be to actually win the game. After four straight ties to go along with five in the last seven games, OCB now sits tied for second in the league with seven one-point outings on the season.