Orlando City SC didn’t exactly get what it expected from its first two matches in the 2018 MLS season as the team only earned one point from the home games against D.C. United and Minnesota United. Now, the team is set to go on the road to face New York City FC on Saturday.
The regular season is only getting started, but after dropping five points at home, the Lions could definitely use a road win against NYCFC to make up for that. The Citizens are one of only four teams to have won their first two matches in the league and if Orlando wants to surprise them in the Big Apple, here are some things it needs to be successful at:
Stop David Villa
OK, that might sound obvious, but it’s impossible not to mention. The Spanish veteran is the heart and soul of NYCFC’s offense since he signed with the club in 2015 and preventing — or at least limiting — the damage he causes is imperative. Last year, he either scored or assisted on 33 of the 59 goals the team registered in the league and scored three in Orlando City in as many matches.
Villa is a versatile player, with great movement and an accurate touch, who can beat defenders in a myriad of different ways. Jonathan Spector and Amro Tarek have only played two matches together and they didn’t look great, but this will be a match where they will need to be nearly perfect to put the Lions in a position to take home all three points.
Orlando City started the season playing a possession-heavy style, but the team would be smart to review this strategy for this specific match. NYCFC also likes to have the ball on its feet and is expected to do so playing at home.
However, we are all aware of the very specific conditions Yankee Stadium offers with its narrow field. Possession without space usually is not effective, so the Lions would be smarter if they tried to take advantage of counter-attack situations to break NYCFC’s defensive system. With both Dom Dwyer and Stefano Pinho injured, Orlando could use a very mobile formation without a true striker, but with a lot of pace up front.
Take Advantage of Set Pieces
For the same reasons mentioned before, set pieces are a huge deal when playing at Yankee Stadium. Every free kick means an opportunity to cross the ball in the penalty box and even throw-ins can be dangerous as the sidelines are very close to the box.
Orlando did a decent job in that category last year, ranking seventh in the entire league with 11 goals scored on set pieces, according to WhoScored.com. With the arrival of Sacha Kljestan, who will debut against the Citizens, the team is expected to be even more dangerous in dead-ball situations.