Orlando City has had a bit of a bad week, but on the bright side the club is still among the top teams in MLS. In an eight-day span, the Lions won one game and lost two and they will have another tough challenge against Sporting Kansas City at Orlando City Stadium this Saturday evening. So far this season, OCSC has been built on defense, but the club will have to rely on its offense in this game against the best defense MLS has to offer.
Other than its strong back line, SKC has also been the beneficiary of some fantastic goalkeeper play from Tim Melia. It will of course be a tough task for Orlando City to score, and one that I believe could define the team moving forward. Since the club’s great start, a lot of buzz has sparked about whether or not Orlando City is a legitimate Eastern Conference contender.
Even though this is a home game, I believe a win would say just as much about the team as the valiant away win against New York City FC did. That game was important because it showed Orlando could beat a playoff contender both home and away. This game would carry a similar significance because of the fact that the offense has not been the team’s strongest asset this season. It seems odd to say, or maybe not at this point, but Orlando City has been carried by its defense.
I wouldn't say the offense has struggled but it definitely has been a little too Larin-centric. With the return of Kaká there has been a greater variety in the build-up play, but other than two poachers' goals from the Brazilian himself, there hasn’t been much of a change in the attacking approach. It still seems that every attack lives or dies through Larin. Even Kaká's two goals were assisted by the Canadian wonder.
Of course, it’s not the worst thing in the world to be reliant on one player. While it is normally seen as a negative, it also means the club has an extraordinary player at its disposal that can take over games. If the supporting cast of Kaká, Barnes, and Rivas chips in too, then Orlando City could enter the conversation about the league’s contenders in 2017.
After a week of rest, perhaps this next match will be an opportunity to really see what the offense can do. So far, it could be described as just effective enough to grind out games, but with the talent in this squad, I think it is reasonable to expect that we are seeing the beginning of something great. I’m sure Jason Kreis understands that this game is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the team’s attacking prowess, so let’s all hope that the team can go out there and make us proud.