Folks, it is with a heavy heart that I must inform you Orlando City is back at it again.
Coming off of a 1-0 defeat at the hands of former Lions coach Adrian Heath, Orlando will look to try and close the month out with positive momentum. Lucky for the Lions, their next opponent is D.C. United (4-6-2, 12 points) tomorrow night at Orlando City Stadium (7:30 p.m. ET, TV27).
Orlando City (6-5-2, 20 points) is coming into the match on the heels of its second straight loss and a continuation of its longest winless streak in club history since joining MLS.
Since the Lions started the month of May, they have gone 0-4-2 in their last six. The seven-game stretch is the most that Orlando will have to play in one month, so thankfully Wednesday’s match will mark the end of this rigorous run of fixtures.
Over in the nation's capital, Ben Olsen and his team are coming off their fourth win of the season, beating the Vancouver Whitecaps on a controversial penalty. It was so controversial, in fact, that the player who won the penalty for D.C. United, Jose Guillermo Ortiz, has reportedly been suspended for Wednesday’s match for simulation on the earned penalty.
Their win in Canada snapped a three game losing streak for United, which lost those three games by a combined score of 6-0.
The Lions’ most recent loss made it two straight games without a goal scored, despite dominating the shot chart against Minnesota, 20-7. Kaká missed the weekend game up in Minneapolis and will now reportedly miss this upcoming game as well, while Cyle Larin is still trying to get things back on track and refocus himself. They still remain one of just two remaining teams in MLS that haven’t scored three or more goals in a game this season, with the other being New York Red Bulls.
Jason Kreis switched up formations for the away fixture and went with what the team started out playing in March, a flat 4-4-2. Rather than going with the usual diamond shape, the Orlando City coach tried to mix things up tactically, but unfortunately the result still went to the opposition.
Coming into an important Eastern Conference game against an opponent that is low in the standings, I would imagine Kreis trotting out his first choice lineup for this one. With Kaká out of commission, Matias Perez Garcia or Giles Barnes will most likely fill his void in the lineup.
As is the case with a lot of teams in MLS, D.C. is a much better team than its record shows. Many of their roster pieces are back from last season, when the team finished fourth in the Eastern Conference.
Goalkeeper Bill Hamid leads the league in saves and has faced more shots than any other MLS keeper, in fewer minutes played. Their main play-maker, the speedy and elusive Luciano Acosta, leads the team with three goals and one assist, while veteran Sebastian Le Toux follows him with two goals scored.
Striker Patrick Mullins is among many United players who have suffered early season injuries and missed time with the team as a result. Expect him to make an impact either as a starter or off the bench.
Player to Watch For
I think the biggest player to watch out for is, in fact, the smallest player on the pitch. Luciano Acosta’s creativity and ball control in the midfield is incredibly effective for D.C. If Orlando manages to contain him, that could help take a lot of the bite out of the United attack.
Prediction: Orlando City 1, D.C. United 0
With both teams having played away against Western Conference teams this past weekend, I don’t see this one going goal crazy. I think Orlando manages to break the slump and hold D.C., a team that has only scored four goals away from home, to a shutout. Now I could be completely wrong and there could be five goals in this one, but hey, that’s the fun in predicting. You never know.