One week after scoring the club’s first ever victory over Atlanta United, Orlando City SC welcomes the Five Stripes into Exploria Stadium for a rematch. That means that I once again spoke to David McFarland of SBNation’s Dirty South Soccer, and he was kind enough to give us some details on Atlanta ahead of this one. I also answered David’s questions and you can find those over at their place.
Atlanta very much played a possession-based style last Saturday, finishing the game with 62% of the ball. Do you expect Atlanta to play the same way on the road with only a few days rest, or cede possession and look to hit on the counter?
David McFarland: If nothing else, Atlanta is a possession-based team. In seven out of its eight total regular-season games this year, the Five Stripes have had 56% or more of the ball, including a whopping 70% against the Red Bulls. That’s not to say that they’ve done anything with it (Spoiler: they haven’t), but you can’t deny its existence. I don’t expect that to change Saturday, as Atlanta looks so bereft of ideas, they may as well try to keep the ball as much as they can.
In your guys’ player ratings piece from last Saturday’s game it was mentioned that since the restart Adam Jahn has played in two games for a total of 140 minutes, and hasn’t attempted a shot. Do you think he’ll continue to start moving forward, or do you expect to start seeing more of Cubo Torres?
DM: Torres finally got his first start for the club on Wednesday against Miami, and was miles better than Jahn. The Mexican played a much bigger role in the buildup play than Jahn, and is the best option Atlanta has up top. Torres, though, like Jahn, was non-existent in the box. He did get a shot off, but it was on his only touch in the penalty box in the entire 90 minutes. Unfortunately, he skied the opportunity from within the six-yard box, but I suppose that’s why Atlanta was able to get him for free. Sigh.
What do you think the most important area of focus is for Atlanta in this game? What does the team need to do do get the win?
DM: Win? The most important thing now is not to lose two straight games against Orlando. It’s not fun admitting this, but there’s a clear favorite, and its not who you would have expected a year ago. The Fives Stripes were solid defensively against Miami, and although Orlando is much more dangerous going forward, there’s a decent foundation at the back. Atlanta will have to rely on keeping the game close, and maybe snatching a lucky goal on the other end if it wants a result, let alone the three points.
Are there any injuries or suspensions that will keep players unavailable for selection? What is your projected starting lineup and score prediction?
DM: With Pity Martinez on his way to Saudi Arabia, he won’t be making an appearance Saturday, while Fernando Meza remains out injured. Other than that, I expect a largely unchanged lineup from Wednesday. As for the game, I don’t see anything other than an Orlando win on the menu. 3-0 to the Purple Lions.
Thanks again to David for the information on Atlanta, and vamos Orlando!