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Staff Roundtable: Orlando City Tops New York City FC; Pride Prepare for Houston Dash

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It is time once again to gather around the big purple table and talk OCSC with The Mane Land staff. How bad did the Lions want to win over Jason Kreis' former team? What's wrong with Brek Shea? What's the plan against Didier Drogba? Is the Pride on the same page following the extended break? We've got our takes and invite yours.

The captain scored a brace to pull Orlando City ahead over New York City FC -- can he replicate the magic against Montreal? What is the cause of Brek Shea's poor run of form? The Pride couldn't pull even with the Washington Spirit -- can they remain in the playoff picture with a win over the Houston Dash?

Scott CrumblyMeg Van Dyk and Logan Oliver discuss all this and more in this week's edition of The Mane Land Roundtable.

Orlando City pulled out a 2-1 win over Jason Kreis' former team, NYCFC, on the back of a brace from the captain. How important do you think this game was to Kreis' new players?

Logan: There must have been a great pep talk leading up to the game. Both the midfield and defense played at a consistently high level all match, only allowing a goal on a rebound. It may have been a little bit because of Kreis' history and a little because they needed a win to stay in the thick of the playoff race.

Meg: Before this match, Orlando had yet to win a game since July 31, despite having several draws. I think this win provided the players with more confidence going forward. It also ignited a fire in the players to keep this momentum going. With games against Montreal and Los Angeles coming it, it is important for players like Matias Perez Garcia, who are fairly new to the team, to gain minutes, building off one another. As the team grows more comfortable with each other, hopefully they will continue to get better and continuing winning.

Scott: Despite Kreis talking down the importance of the match, there has certainly been an underlying feeling of resentment towards his old club, so I think this one meant a little more to him than he let on. I'm not sure if it meant more to his new players beyond a huge three points towards their playoff efforts, but it's definitely possible that they took a little extra motivation to get one in the name of revenge on their coach's behalf. Whatever the case, three points are nice.

Brek Shea came on late in the match, was was largely ineffective in another appearance. Is there something Kreis can do to get more out of him? Is he uncomfortable on the right?

Meg: Brek Shea is one of the players who has been incredibly unreliable for Orlando. In his time with Orlando he has battled injuries, national team camps, and "road blocks" that have kept him from being beneficial to the team. In terms of what Kreis can do to somehow get more out of Shea, I'm not sure; a possible position move may do the trick, but as Shea gets older he is becoming less and less of a vital player to this team.

Scott: I'm not sure there's a whole lot more Kreis can do other than giving Shea more minutes, but those are hard to come by. Shea doesn't have much time to get into any kind of rhythm with these late appearances, but with the clear chemistry between attacking players like Kaká, Matías Pérez García, and Kevin Molino, Shea is understandably on the outside looking in.

Logan: It's tough to call him uncomfortable on the right because he's had some good showings there, including in Kreis' first match. I think it's best to chalk it up to poor form, but if it continues Brek will find himself on the outside of the match day squad looking in soon enough.

Didier Drogba was absent in the initial meeting. If he is to play in the upcoming match, what's the best strategy to slow the star striker down?

Scott: Drogba certainly presents a problem if he's present, but the good news is Orlando City has found what appears to be a solid center back pairing in José Aja and David Mateos - both of whom possess the size to challenge Drogba on aerial duels. Hopefully Aja and Mateos can challenge Drogba physically, and hopefully he doesn't save one of his fantastic free kick finishes for the Lions. Didier has cooled a bit as the season has progressed, which is also good news for City, as he is sitting at 0.47 non-penalty goals per 90 minutes currently, a solid drop from his 0.68 mark at the All-Star break. (For reference, Cyle Larin is currently at 0.59 non-PK goals per 90.)

Logan: I'd like to see something akin to the formation we saw against NYCFC with Redding, Aja, and Mateos all starting. They did a great job stifling David Villa and NYCFC's attack, which has been more potent this season.

Pride Time

The Pride couldn't quite get a point against the Washington Spirit, failing to convert on chances they seemingly should have. Do you think it was a matter of the club getting back on the same page following the break, or the Spirit simply being the better team?

Meg: The Pride seemed to lack cohesion in the last game, Perhaps it was because Orlando players took more time to return to their team than the Spirit's players, or maybe it is because the youth of the players that were on the field. The Pride needs more veteran players -- players who have time to train together and understand each other's tactics and movements. Unfortunately, until that happens, I don't see the Pride getting much better, especially with the caliber of play around the rest of the NWSL.

Scott: A bit of both. Getting back into a groove isn't easy after a break but at the same time, the Spirit are top of the table, having only allowed 14 goals this season, while only two teams have managed fewer goals scored than the Pride. There's a 17-point gap between these two teams for a reason.

Logan: You can't fault anyone for losing to the Spirit this season. I expected Portland to win the NWSL title this season with all of their quality additions, but it's Washington who's six points clear at the top of the table. It didn't help that the Pride's first choice back line was unavailable, but Orlando did well and it bodes well for the remainder of their season.

Orlando has more points than the Houston Dash on the year, but find themselves with a less flattering differential of -6 compared to -3. Finding themselves on the outside of the playoff bubble, how much of a threat are the Dash to the Pride's playoff hopes?

Scott: Luckily for the Pride, they are 3-0 against Houston this season with a +4 goal differential in those matches, otherwise Orlando would certainly be trailing the Dash. With the Pride's struggles vs. teams not from Houston, I think it would be foolish to say that the Dash isn't a threat.

Logan: New forward Lisa De Vanna will hopefully help improve their goal differential, giving the Pride a great option off the bench. Even if she just relieves some pressure from Alex Morgan, I expect the Pride to be score more goals -- at least enough to keep the Dash at bay.

Meg: With the Dash having Carli Lloyd back, coming off the disappointment of the Olympics, I see the Dash as being a serious threat to the Pride. They are continuing to improve while the Pride seem to be content with where they currently are.

***

And this edition of the roundtable is adjourned. Sound off with your opinions below, and remember Orlando City B kicks off one hour before the Pride this Saturday.