To see the last time that Orlando City scored six goals in a game, you have to go all the way back to the 2014 season in the USL when the Lions put up seven on the Dayton Dutch Lions at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Wednesday night’s 6-1 victory over the New England Revolution featured the most goals this club has scored since entering Major League Soccer, and now the club looks to ride that momentum into Saturday afternoon when a struggling FC Dallas (10-9-11, 41 points) heads into Orlando City Stadium (4 p.m. ET, Univision).
Five different players found the back of the net on Wednesday for Orlando (10-13-8, 38 points), a team that couldn’t buy a goal this summer but has now scored at least three goals in two of its last three games, with 11 overall throughout the last four matches. More importantly, the production is coming throughout the roster, with seven different players contributing to that goal tally.
Meanwhile, in Dallas, last season’s U.S. Open Cup and Supporters’ Shield winners have been having a summer just about as rough as Orlando City’s. Like Orlando, Dallas got off to a hot start and sat atop of the Western Conference standings alongside Sporting Kansas City throughout the first couple months of the season, but has since fallen off the face of the Earth, and Oscar Pareja just hasn’t been able to correct the skid.
Wednesday night’s 2-0 win over the Colorado Rapids broke a 10-game winless streak for Dallas, a stretch that lasted just over two months. Unlike Orlando, however, Dallas has the luxury of playing in a far weaker Western Conference, where it currently sits in sixth place, just seven points back of first. For reference, Orlando City is currently 23 points behind Toronto FC, and five points out of the playoff picture with three games remaining.
A loss or a draw to Dallas and a New York Red Bulls win this weekend would eliminate Orlando City from playoff contention.
This is the third all-time meeting between the two sides; Dallas has taken each of the first two games, while outscoring Orlando, 6-0.
Wednesday night’s game was good for Orlando for several reasons: it scored a lot of goals, nobody left hurt, and nobody was sent off.
Kaká scored two goals in his return to the starting lineup after missing out or coming off of the bench in each of the last three games. Afterwards, Head Coach Jason Kreis said he has no doubts about using Kaká in the starting lineup, and after his performance the other night the captain could have earned himself another start on Saturday.
Jonathan Spector will be eligible to return to the starting lineup as well. The defensive captain was suspended for the game against New England after being sent off for two yellows against the Portland Timbers on Sunday night.
Kreis used Wednesday’s game as a chance to rest a couple of key guys after playing on just two days of rest, and we could see a couple more lineup changes against Dallas. Cyle Larin came off the bench against New England, and with he and Kaká being more rested than others, Kreis could afford to give Dom Dwyer a break this weekend.
Pareja’s side is coming off of a big victory too, and will surely be looking to keep the pedal to the metal against Orlando as it continues fighting for a playoff spot in the West.
It’s been a tough summer for forward Maxi Urruti, who has 12 goals this season but just one since July 4. His lack of production has been a large part of why Dallas has struggled to pick up points over the last couple of months.
There’s no doubting the talent on the roster, but for some reason it just hasn’t come together for a side that dominated the league last season. Maybe it’s bad luck, maybe it’s just a lack of confidence, but whatever it is, don’t sleep on this Dallas side because it can still give the Lions a run for their money on Saturday.
Player to Watch For
Urruti is one name to keep an eye on, but watch Mauro Diaz in the midfield. He can really pull the strings for Dallas and keep things moving forward for the offense. Diaz also played a big role in the team’s win over Colorado.
Prediction: Orlando City 2, FC Dallas 1
I think Orlando rides the momentum of Wednesday night and stays alive in the playoff fight for another two weeks.