Orlando City heads north to take on bottom of the table FC Cincinnati this Saturday night. Cincinnati is riding a six-match losing streak in which the team has given up 16 goals while only scoring six. Meanwhile, Orlando City is coming off a draw and a win that saw the club score four goals, two in each match. It was the first time the Lions have done so since June. With all of that said, what does Orlando City need to do to keep pushing towards the playoffs and bring home all three points?
Set Piece Success
For what seems like forever, Orlando City has been poor on set pieces — in particular, when taking corner kicks. I won’t get into the evil that is short corners (#BanShortCorners), but suffice to say it hasn’t always gone well for the Lions. That is, until recently. Three of the four goals scored in the last two matches came directly from set pieces.
Cincinnati is likely to let Orlando City have the ball and try to score on counter attacks. That means that if the Lions press in and around the box, there should be ample opportunities to take advantage of set pieces. It also means that Daryl Dike is likely to have a crack at a header, or overpower a defender to put the ball in the back of the net. He has done so in each of the Lions’ last three matches, and it would be a very good thing indeed if he keeps that streak alive.
Defend the Counter
I mentioned that Cincinnati is likely to try to get a goal on the counter attack. Orlando City has a defense that should be able to deal with that tactic effectively, but diligence is key. The Lions’ defenders have a propensity to get forward. I’m not just speaking of Ruan and João Moutinho, but also Robin Jansson as of late. The Beefy Swede has been making runs deeper into the opposition’s half, and sticking around for a bit. As long as they can all get back to cover, it shouldn’t be a big deal.
The best reason to have faith in the defense to handle a counter attack is the presence of Júnior Urso and Sebas Mendez in the midfield. When these two players are on, Orlando City’s defense is significantly better. Mendez has been particularly good at sniffing out the ball to stymie the opposition. This gives the other players that have pushed forward the time needed to get back and defend.
A Clean Sheet for El Pulpo
Pedro Gallese was being mentioned by those outside of Orlando as a top five keeper in MLS. To be clear, I think he still is, but Orlando has not had a clean sheet since the Aug. 27 match against Inter Miami, and that was a 0-0 draw. It’s not all on Gallese, but since the previous international break he hasn’t seemed as sharp. I’m not sure if he left his mojo in Peru, but I’m hoping he retrieved whatever it was he left there in his return from the latest international break.
Gallese kept five clean sheets in the first nine matches of the season, and if Orlando City is to make a serious playoff run, the club will need some more of those. The match against Cincinnati is the perfect opportunity to secure a clean sheet and get both El Pulpo and the Lions’ defense back on the right track.
Those are the things I’ll be looking for Saturday night at TQL Stadium. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.