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Can Orlando City Avoid Being a Stepping Stone for New York Red Bulls Again?

New York used a win over the Lions as a catapult to a turnaround in 2016. Orlando won’t want to provide such a turning point for a sluggish Red Bulls side this weekend.

MLS: Orlando City SC at New York Red Bulls William Hauser-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando City is a team eager to find a win after a bad result in its first away game of the season. A 2-0 defeat at the home of the Columbus Crew has the Lions asking their own questions as they unpack their bags and return to their new home. As Orlando City prepares to move forward, we here at The Mane Land are prepared to look back.

Last season, the New York Red Bulls started off the season with dismal results across MLS. In fact, in their first seven games, the Red Bulls only won once — the other six were all losses. Through those seven games, the Red Bulls only recorded one game where they scored multiple goals — that was a 4-3 victory against Houston. They actually failed to score a single goal in five of those seven games, and a lot of questions were being asked of the team and its general direction.

Insert Orlando City.

The Lions were traveling to Red Bull arena to take on a struggling club. To make things even worse, Orlando City’s Cyle Larin scored in the opening minutes of the game to set the Red Bulls back on their heels.

The Red Bulls didn’t take this opportunity to bow out of the game, though, instead pushing forward and capitalizing by scoring three goals and taking home a victory over the Lions despite being at their lowest point in the season.

The comeback victory for the Red Bulls led to a “yes we can” attitude and was truly a moment that helped to jump-start their season. The next week, they would go on to beat the best team in the league at the time — FC Dallas — 4-0. The seven games that followed the awful start for the Red Bulls saw them win five games and tie one time while only recording one loss.

The offense was jump-started, too — in that seven-game span, the offense scored 19 goals and the defense only conceded five. The Red Bulls had a new demeanor to them and looked like a team that was close to unbeatable. The offense was roaring and the defense wasn't budging — everything was looking up. They went on to have a solid season and inevitably made the playoffs. Making the playoffs after that rough of a start to the season seemed improbable, but playing the way they did after the comeback against Orlando City led everyone to believe that maybe the Red Bulls were a true championship contender.

So, was it Orlando City that helped the talented New York Red Bulls leapfrog teams in the Eastern Conference on their way through an improbable playoff run?

All signs point to yes.

Fast-forward to this season. Orlando City has two wins at home and one loss on the road. The Lions are set to host New York this weekend and will be in a similar position of leap froggery (yes, I made that word up in my head, so fight me) as the Red Bulls sit at 2-2-1.

Of course, the Red Bulls are not in exactly the same state of dysfunction as they were last season, but they are not necessarily off to the hottest of starts either. As a matter of fact, the Red Bulls have not been able to find a win in their last three attempts, going 0-2-1. To add a little extra salt to that wound, they were just hammered by the Houston Dynamo, 4-1.

Orlando City is reeling a little bit as it comes off a loss on the road, but the Lions remain a team looking ahead in a positive direction. Having back-to-back game weeks against the Columbus Crew and New York Red Bulls is no easy task for any club in the league, and this weekend that will be no different for the Lions.

Winning against an opponent like New York presents an amazing opportunity for the men in purple, as they could become the team to leapfrog the Red Bulls as opposed to it being the other way around. The Eastern Conference standings have Orlando City in fifth and just ahead are the Red Bulls in fourth. A win for Orlando City would propel it ahead of New York, while a win for the Red Bulls would distance them a little further away from their Floridian rivals.

So the questions for this week are two-fold: do the New York Red Bulls use Orlando City as the match to ignite their flame similarly to the previous season?


Can Orlando City prove to itself that it can respond positively following a defeat and move ahead of the Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference standings?