August is almost over, well sort of. It is a short month for Orlando City, having only three matches, including the looming home against the current leader in the chase for the Supporters Shield, Atlanta United. I’m not even going to bring up the playoff race right now, I’m just hoping the team can right the ship and end the season on a high note. It will be interesting to see the impact of new defender Carlos Ascues.
As I sit here in Las Vegas, trying to find somewhere that carries one of those beautiful disasters of a kit, it also proves itself a wonderful time to peer deep into the crystal ball and see what October may be hiding. Let’s take a look, shall we?
Sept. 1 vs. Philadelphia Union
Currently sitting above the red line, Philadelphia will be coming to town looking to take advantage of the Lions, in their current state of affairs, and sneak away with points. One of our Eastern Conference rivals, the other meeting this year resulted in Orlando City walking away from a road trip to Philly with three points. The Lions will be on eight days rest, and hopefully at full strength with everyone serving out card suspensions and such. It’s possible that if Ascues is not ready for the the Atlanta match, this might be his debut in front of the home crowd. Philly is also coming into this match playing three matches in seven days.
Prediction: 2-1 City.
Sept. 8 at Sporting Kansas City
Another reunion for Dom Dwyer and his former club, in fact, it’s also a reunion for Orlando City and its former MLS affiliate club. Unless you have lived under a rock, or are just somewhat new to the Orlando City family, there was a time in the olden days of USL that City and Sporting had a thing. In fact, that thing created some chaotic moments when players were sent between teams, then not, then sent, then not. Regardless, Sporting will be welcoming City as they sit among the top teams in the West. The last three matches, one per season, have seen Orlando win at home, lose at KC, and draw last year at home. Considering the need for results, Orlando will looking to bring points home. If the Lions are to do so, it will be without Yoshimar Yotún, who will be on international duty with Peru.
Prediction: 2-1 City.
Sept. 16 at Chicago Fire
Chicago are last in the East, currently. After last night, the Fire are in the midst of an eight-match losing streak. There are a couple of things to note here. The Fire will have a big break prior to the match, and their record against City is historically good. This will be the second meeting between these Eastern Conference clubs, with the Fire stealing one late at Orlando City Stadium early this season in match 12. Considering the current state of the Fire, this may be a great opportunity for City to pick up three much-needed points.
Prediction: 2-0 City.
Sept. 22 vs. Houston Dynamo
Similar to Orlando’s current record against Sporting Kansas City, the Lions and Houston are sitting square in MLS, with each side gaining one win, and one draw between them. The last match, however, was a 4-0 drubbing by Houston when Orlando visited in 2017. This season currently sees Houston in a similar spot to Orlando in the conference standings, and the Dynamo are not good. Both of these clubs will mathematically know where they stand in regards to the playoff race by the time they meet, so this match could have serious implications, or it could be just playing for pride.
Prediction: 3-0 City.
The wild roller coaster that has been the 2018 MLS season is beginning to wind down. The Lions have a total of 10 matches left, 30 points available, to see out this season. September is looking to be a very dramatic month. The only missing piece is knowing the point of mathematical improbability. Head Coach James O’Connor has a daunting task ahead of him, and there are so many questions surround the club right now. The boys need a good month, a string of solid performances that get results, and the crystal ball seems to be pointing at September being that month.