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Orlando City at D.C. United: Three Keys to Victory

What do the Lions need to do to bring home all three points?

MLS: Orlando City SC at D.C. United Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando City heads to Audi Field to take on D.C. United this Sunday night. The Lions are unbeaten in the first four matches of the season, and D.C. United is on a three game losing streak. Of course, points on the road in Major League Soccer can be hard to come by. That being said, Orlando City has a good chance of getting all three points this weekend. Let’s take a look at what needs to happen.

Nani Needs Help

Nani has been on a scoring tear, and he really seems to be zeroed in on the goal at the moment. That is a great thing, but with three draws it’s obvious that he needs some help if Orlando City is going to put another “dub” in the win column. Chris Mueller has been uncharacteristically quiet so far this season, and the Money Badger needs to find the right book or inspirational quote to get back on track. Maybe we can get Scott Sutter to engage in the friendly Twitter banter with Cash again? Regardless, Mueller isn’t the only one who needs to find the back of the net. Tesho Akindele has been starting but only has one so far. While I’m not expecting him to have a 15-goal season, getting a few more from him while waiting on Alexandre Pato, Daryl Dike, or some other forward to get into the lineup isn’t too much to ask. I’ve often noted that Óscar Pareja’s offenses score by committee, but that hasn’t been happening, and the result has been lost points. Hopefully, as Mauricio Pereyra gets back to 90-minute form, he will be able to be the catalyst for more goals from his teammates.

Eliminate the Errors

Orlando City has only given up two goals this season, and both were on mistakes by the back line. Antonio Carlos failed to control a pass, which allowed Gianluca Busio to score for Sporting Kansas City, and last week João Moutinho fouled Ismael Tajouri-Shradi in the box, allowing Taty Castellanos to put away the penalty kick. That’s it. Pedro Gallese has been worth every penny he is being paid and more. Other than that one mistake, Antonio Carlos has been excellent, as has Rodrigo Schlegel, and it seems that soon Robin Jansson will be back and available. I challenge you to find a more solid trio of center backs in MLS. Moutinho is back from injury and will get better as his fitness returns, and Kyle Smith is the Swiss Army knife that moves wherever Pareja needs him, as he did when Ruan went out with an injury against New York City FC. If the Lions can eliminate those few, little, mental lapses, then clean sheets are easier, as is earning all three points in a match.

Press, Press, Press

Every time Orlando City has played a higher press this season, the team has been more effective. Pareja wants his club to be protagonists, and they look the part when pressing. Yes, it’s hard to do that for 90 minutes, but if they take it to D.C. United early, it’s likely that the scoring chances and possession will be greatly in the Lions’ favor given the state of D.C.’s lineup. They have dealt with a deluge of injuries so far this season, and even if some of the players are starting to come back, they won’t be fully match fit this weekend. Orlando City must take advantage of this and engulf D.C.’s players every time they touch the ball. It’s hard for the other team to score if they never get out of their own half.

Those are my thoughts, now let me know yours in the comments below.