Orlando City is heading into a tough stretch of matches. The Lions travel to New York, then down to Miami and back up to Vancouver to begin what will be a difficult month of June. Riding into this difficult period, Orlando is already sitting on a three-game losing streak. During those three games, Dom Dwyer has played just once and captain Jonathan Spector has been out injured.
Spector has not played since an April 8 win against Portland and the Lions were still able to pick up four wins without him. As for Dom, Orlando has gone 0-4-1 without him, and 6-1-0 when when plays on the season.
Get Dom Back or Have Someone Step Up
The first key to ending the losing streak is simply having the Lions’ No. 1 striker playing. Without Dwyer the entire team looks different and there is no one else on this roster who can play as the lone striker like he can. Stéfano Pinho, Josué Colmán, and Chris Mueller have all played in that role this season but not to the same level of success as Dwyer. Dwyer has the best hold-up play on the team and that is the biggest difference. Colmán did not do a poor job, but it was clear that he should be operating from the midfield.
This leads to the next the next key to beating New York City: The Lions need to capitalize on opportunities. Cristian Higuita spoke after the loss to Chicago and said, “Soccer is about goals. We had to be more efficient and we weren’t able to finish our chances. Now we have to work really hard because we have very tough matches ahead on the road.”
Orlando City, with a makeshift starting XI, dominated that game. But while the Lions held 60% possession, finished with a 90% passing accuracy on 507 passes, had 11 more shots than the Fire, and kept the ball in Chicago’s end for 39% of the game, the stat that stands out the most is Orlando’s four missed chances. Chicago keeper Patrick McLain made a couple of highlight reel saves, but the Lions should have walked away with a victory.
On Saturday this needs to be the No. 1 focus. To beat NYCFC, Orlando will need to make every chance count and if they leave multiple opportunities without scoring, they will not win the game.
Finally, Orlando needs to stay focused defensively for the entire 90 minutes. This seems like a no-brainer, but it is something that is extremely difficult and is often why teams allow chances on goal. Against a team with David Villa and Maxi Moralez, any lapse in focus will result in Joe Bendik being called into action.