May cannot be done soon enough. That being said, it is time to look forward, peering deep into the crystal ball, and telling it to be a bit more realistic than it was last time. We will very shortly explain that sentiment, but for now, we need to focus on what is ahead, not what is behind.
June holds five fixtures, including the club’s second matches versus New York City FC and Atlanta United this season, and the extremely weird, what-on-earth-were-you-thinking MLS scheduling bot, back-to-back matches with Montreal.
Depth, travel, injuries, summer slump, and so much more is on every fan’s mind. These are the parts of the schedule that keep people up at night. Without getting too verbose, let’s just dive right in and examine the first month of hurricane season.
June 2 at New York City FC
These two teams, who entered MLS at the same time in the 2015 season, have played each other 10 times so far in season play. Orlando City holds the advantage in the series, at 5-3-2. Breaking it down even further, Orlando has won in New York twice (2-2-1). These two teams have already clashed once this season in Week 3 in Yankee Stadium. The result did not go Orlando’s way, with the Lions walking away with a 2-0 loss after giving up two goals in the second half.
Admittedly, the team that went to New York in March is a much different team than will be making this trip. Players seem to be coming back from injury, like Dom Dwyer, who was not in the first 18, and Jonathan Spector, who hopefully is truly free from the effects of the concussion and is available to help on the depleted back line. Orlando certainly needs to turn things around, and a trip to the Big Apple with some typical starters returning might just be the jump start needed to get back to winning ways.
Prediction: 2-2 Draw.
June 9 at Vancouver Whitecaps FC
As with most Western Conference teams, the number of matches against the Lions since joining MLS in 2015 is a massive total of three. Unfortunately, this is also one of the few remaining teams that Orlando has never beaten, currently sitting on a record of 0-2-1. Even more ironic, the home team has not fared well in this match-up. Both wins for Vancouver came in Orlando.
Currently, the Whitecaps are riding a five-match winless streak, have a much better road record than home record, and have one win in the past two months. If the Lions can come away from New York with at least a point, the confidence should create a wave that follows them to Canada to bring home a few more points, namely three.
Prediction: 2-0 Orlando City.
June 13 at Montreal Impact
This is one of the most even series’ in the Lions’ MLS history. The teams have 3-3-2 marks against each other. Montreal, at the time of this writing, is sitting in 10th place in the East, has won one match in April and May, and is currently on a four-match losing skid. I hate to try to pick out a team that you can look at and say, “this is who City should pick up points from” but the Impact are certainly the team that, at least on paper, are the match-up that lends itself to picking up points. Did I mention they have been shut out for all but one match in May, even with Ignacio Piatti?
It is a short week leading up to this match, so it will be interesting to see if the team decides to come home, or go straight from Vancouver to Montreal. I would hope to see the team stay across the border to maximize rest and recovery. Either way, I think think the trip up north will be very beneficial for the Lions, eh.
Prediction: 2-0 Orlando City.
June 23 vs. Montreal Impact
This is one of the...wait a second, didn’t I just explain this match-up? This one gets a bit complex due to the time frame between matches. Ten days is a good bit of time to rest, recover, watch tape, binge watch some World Cup Russia 2018 matches, and prepare.
Prediction: 3-0 Orlando City.
June 30 at Atlanta United
We all know about this one. The nearest competition that MLS wants to be a rivalry, that everyone talks about not being a rivalry because rivalries take time, and the fan bases certainly loathe each other to the point of vile vitriol battles and epic trolling on scales that will make most hardcore keyboard cowboys blush. Another of the teams that Orlando City has yet to beat (0-2-2), Atlanta United has been in very good form for most of the season.
The teams have squared off once this season, remember? Currently first in the East, and sitting atop the Supporters’ Shield race, Atlanta is going to be a tough team to play this season for anyone. Can Orlando find the recipe to beat the Five Stripes this season? Absolutely, but it will take a consistent performance across the pitch from every position, especially the back line. I am certainly hoping that the back line at this point in the month is the same consistent crew. You are not going to like what you read below, but it is honestly what my gut (a.k.a., the crystal ball) is telling me.
Prediction: 2-1 Atlanta (caveat to this is if Yoshimar Yotun and Amro Tarek are available, then 2-2 draw).
June is going to be another tough month, with a lot of yelling and screaming at the TV for most of us fans. I expect the Lions to shake off the May doldrums and use June to return to form. MLS is certainly not the league to make it easy to gain points on the road, but the Lions look poised to take some quality points in June, and keep up, or close the gap, with the Eastern Conference teams above them. The time to panic is not now. Let’s wait until July for that.