The teams’ first meeting ended in a frustrating 1-0 defeat to the Lions, but some lessons were hopefully learned as the sides are set to clash again. Here are three of them:
Insist on Set Pieces
Orlando’s best opportunities on Friday’s game came on set pieces with both Jonathan Spector and Jose Aja prevailing over Atlanta’s defenders in the air. If it wasn’t for Brad Guzan’s great performance, the Lions would definitely have left Orlando City Stadium with three points under their belts.
Considering Orlando City created two very clear opportunities out of only six crosses and that the team won 62% of the aerial duels according to WhoScored.com, this seems to be the way to go, especially in a match where the Lions are expected to be out-possessed.
This one is obviously easier said than done, but Orlando City’s defenders have to deny Atlanta’s offensive players any space. As Hector Villalba’s goal showed on Friday, their attackers can do a lot if you give them any room to operate.
Villalba, Miguel Almiron, Yamil Asad and Josef Martinez are not only dangerous because of the speed of their runs, but they also have enough talent and understanding to combine to create dangerous opportunities.
Use Speed Up Front
One of best ways to beat Atlanta’s defensive system is using their main weapon against them. Neither of Michael Parkhurst or Leandro Gonzalez Pirez are fast defenders and defensive midfielders Jeff Larentowicz and Carlos Carmona are not quick as well.
Using Carlos Rivas’ pace to get behind them could be a good idea. Rivas outran Gonzalez Pirez once last Friday and was only stopped by Guzan. With good passers in its midfield, Orlando can repeat the strategy to create more opportunities like that in Georgia.