Orlando City finds itself in a much different position than at this point last season. In 2017, Orlando City had six points through its first three games, defeating New York City FC and Philadelphia Union and losing to Columbus.
This season has obviously started on a much different note. Orlando has only attained one point through its first three matches, and with two of those matches at home, that is unacceptable, though with one of those played with only 10 men, it could have been worse. With that said, the upcoming three matches are extremely important for the Lions to build momentum while it’s still early in the 2018 season.
Orlando City vs. New York Red Bulls — Orlando City Stadium
This should be a very interesting match-up, with Sacha Kljestan and Carlos Rivas facing their former clubs for the first time since the off-season trade.
Why is the game so important? Because the New York Red Bulls have started the season on a solid note, winning two of their first three. For Orlando, which is getting Josué Colmán back at 100%, this game could be a great chance to take down a solid Eastern Conference team in the comfort of its own home.
With the way these teams have been playing, the Red Bulls should be considered the favorite, but Orlando City is looking to dig itself out of an early hole. Out of the upcoming games for Orlando, this game is the most important to give a stagnant team life. Orlando needs to get that first victory under its belt, and doing so at home would do wonders for the squad as a whole.
Orlando City vs. Portland Timbers — Orlando City Stadium
Currently, both Orlando City and the Portland Timbers have one point on the season. This is a much more winnable game for Orlando City, as it is very difficult for any Western Conference team to obtain victory coming into an Eastern Conference stadium, but it has already happened to Orlando against Minnesota United.
Another key point, is that Orlando and Portland each have the same amount of goals scored, at two a piece.
I’ll pose the question again, why is this game so important? Depending on the outcome against the New York Red Bulls, this game could either be yet another attempt to obtain the first victory of the season or to get a valuable win streak going. Either way, this game will be important in either a positive or negative way.
Orlando City vs. Philadelphia Union — Talen Energy Stadium
Philadelphia has only two games under its belt so far this year, a 2-0 victory against 10-man New England Revolution, and a 0-0 draw to the Columbus Crew. Again, Orlando will look to prove itself against what, at the time, looks like an improved team in the Philadelphia Union.
This game, which takes place on April 13, is also the last Eastern Conference game for Orlando City until May, exactly a month later on May 13 against Atlanta United. In-conference games are of course more valuable than out-of-conference ones, giving teams a chance to directly take points from those with which they’re competing in the table, so Orlando will look to end this three-game stretch on a high note against an Eastern Conference team that appears to be a playoff contender.
For Orlando, this will be only its second road game of the season, so with the home victories hopefully coming, adding a road victory to those victories would be amazing.
With the above previews, the most ideal outcomes would obviously be three victories. Orlando City cannot afford to continue falling further behind. Even getting draws from these games would be better than no points at all. So, we’ll have to wait and see how Orlando City handles this early season hole it has put itself in. Only time will tell us the answer.