Orlando City is a really weird team right now.
After playing what was arguably their best 45 minutes of soccer in the first half of Saturday’s game, the Lions came back and played a pretty poor 45 minutes in the second half, only to scrape away with a 94th-minute equalizer goal from Jonathan Spector.
Now, Orlando gets to spend the next three games on the road as it travels across the country to Seattle to play the Sounders (10:30 p.m. ET, TV 27), who have won three out of their last five games, all of which have been in their home stadium, CenturyLink Field.
With Cyle Larin out for the next few games, Orlando fans may have been a bit concerned about who would step up and score goals. Well, the unlikeliest of scorers in Matias Perez Garcia and Spector came through for the Lions as they managed a draw with Montreal.
With this game coming only four days after the Impact game, the likelihood of Head Coach Jason Kreis shifting the lineup a bit is likely. In fact, he said after the game, “I think that we will have to use multiple players, we aren’t going to stick with the strongest XI and try to play as many games as we have with as much travel as we have. We have a deeper roster, we have a lot of players that we believe in, and we’re going to need to just do better.”
With that in mind, I expect Kaká to come off the bench and Luis Gil to probably slot in for him, along with Tommy Redding in for Jose Aja and PC for Donny Toia. With the offense clicking as well as it did in the first 45 minutes on Saturday, it’s a shame that we may not see that same attacking front probably until the end of the month.
Despite a 2-1 loss to New York City FC in some borderline unplayable field conditions, the Sounders are coming into this game with a roster that is the healthiest it has been all season.
Last year, Seattle beat Orlando, 3-1, which started its eventual run to the MLS Cup Final. In 2015, the last and only time Orlando visited the Sounders, the Lions lost, 4-0, and had Tyler Turner sent off.
This year, the Sounders haven’t done great in the standings, but with most of their team back and healthy, they are still a very dangerous team, especially at home, where they are 4-1-2. Look for players like Clint Dempsey, Nicolas Lodeiro, and Jordan Morris to lead the line for the Sounders and really push the Orlando defense, especially on their home turf.
Player to Watch For
Nicolás Lodeiro got his first two MLS assists against Orlando last year and didn’t look back. The Uruguayan finished 2016 with five goals and eight assists, having only started playing on the last day of July. This year, he’s been off to a slow start but still has three goals and five assists in 16 games. It seems like the Sounders’ playmaker is due for a breakout game and if the Orlando back line isn’t careful, he could do just that.
Prediction: Orlando City 1, Seattle 3
Call me pessimistic, but Orlando does not have a good history against the Sounders. They’ve lost the last two games to them by a combined score of 7-1. Seattle is good at home and has a tremendous presence in the stadium, and Orlando is 1-4-1 on the road. These factors do not give one confidence heading into this game. Hopefully I’m completely wrong, though.