I write this piece after getting home from a 1-0 USMNT win over Ecuador that was an absolute blast. I hung out and had a few beers with our own Michael Citro and Bearded Guy pre-match before Tom and I stood in the wall and cheered on the Red, White & Blue to a win. But now it’s time to turn our attention to Orlando City’s next game, and, with that in mind, I bring you my three keys to emerging victorious in this weekend’s clash against the New York Red Bulls.
Stop Bradley Wright-Phillips
If I could make this all three keys to the match I would. Simply put, the English striker is absolutely lethal. He’s got 107 goals in 172 regular season games, two golden boot wins, and the list goes on and on. He can beat you with his pace, head, both feet, and he’s tormented pretty much every team in the league. The Red Bulls definitely have other players that can hurt Orlando but if the Lions don’t stop BWP then those other guys will be the least of their concerns. How exactly to go about shackling New York’s talisman is an interesting problem. The best way is probably to simply try and stop the ball getting to him by starving him of service. It becomes problematic though when the Red Bulls win the ball in the attacking half and are able to quickly move it to the striker before the defense is able to organize themselves. Which brings me to my next point.
Handle the High Press
One of the trademarks of NYRB teams in recent years is the high press. One of the reasons they can be so tough to deal with is that, as mentioned above, they do a very good job of winning the ball high up the field and attacking before the opposition defense is able to competently organize. If Orlando is going to be successful then the Lions absolutely need to stay calm on the ball and be able to play it out of the back when necessary while also recognizing when its best to simply boot it long and clear the danger. What cannot happen is dawdling on the ball or making poor decisions when the back line and midfield are under pressure because there’s a good chance those sorts of mistakes will lead to quality chances in front of Brian Rowe’s net. Which ties into my last item.
Be Mistake Free (Or as Close to it as Possible)
It feels like this is something I’ve said time and time again during my time writing for The Mane Land but it continues to be a problem for the men in purple. One has only to look at last week to see just how much mistakes hurt the team. Orlando nearly conceded straight from the kickoff by basically passing straight to Montreal and then conceded the second goal by doing exactly that when a ghastly Shane O’Neill back-pass resulted in Ignacio Piatti tormenting the Lions yet again. Throughout the rest of the game and particularly in the second half, Orlando turned the ball over time and again and only a stellar performance from Brian Rowe kept the scoreline from becoming rather unsightly. Simply put, the mistakes just have to be cut out of OCSC’s game as a whole, but even more so against a team as talented as New York and in a game where there will surely be so little room for errors.
That’ll be all for me. Don’t forget that the game is at 7:30 pm ET tomorrow at Red Bull Arena so don’t show up at the stadium by accident. I actually had a friend who did that once for a Baltimore Orioles game. He was...not pleased. So don’t be like him, and stay safe out there. Ciao.