Orlando City is riding a six-game unbeaten streak to start the season. Now the Lions head to the unfriendly confines of Red Bull Arena in Harrison, NJ. The Red Bulls announced that they will be increasing fan capacity starting this weekend in accordance with local laws and MLS guidelines. That means New York will have that extra support when they face Orlando City. What do the Lions need to do to overcome the fans, and the Red Bulls players to earn all three points?
Break the Press
The Red Bulls are an attacking-minded, high-press type of club. For the Lions to have any success, they are going to need to be able to break that press. Orlando City’s defense is the second best in MLS, so while they can certainly absorb plenty of attacks, the Lions will still need to get at least one goal to get all three points. Aside from the recent match against D.C. United, Orlando City has been pretty good at dealing with pressing teams. I expect that was the exception that proves the rule, and Óscar Pareja will have the club prepared to deal with the Red Bulls. The Lions are fortunate that they have the ability and talent to either play out of the back and work it up through the midfield, or simply have the likes of Robin Jansson or Antônio Carlos play the ball over the top. We might see both tactics this Saturday afternoon.
Attack from the Wings
Once the Lions get into the Red Bulls’ half of the field, things may get a little easier despite Orlando City’s scarcity of goals so far this season. The Red Bulls are missing Aaron Long for the season due to injury, and his backup, Andrés Reyes, is also out thanks to two yellow cards last match against the New England Revolution. As such, there is opportunity for Orlando City once the Lions get into the final third. Like Orlando City in the past, the Red Bulls have had some trouble dealing with attacks coming from the wings. Pareja’s system embraces that very type of attack, and even with Nani still out on suspension, Chris Mueller, Silvester van der Water, and Mauricio Pereyra can all provide service into the box for each other, or the strikers. We saw an example of what that looks like on van der Water’s cross on Tesho Akindele’s header last match.
Don’t Settle for Just One
Orlando City has been pretty good lately when it comes to scoring early, and scoring first. That is all well and good, but the club hasn’t been able to find the second insurance goal to keep my blood pressure at a normal level. The match against D.C. United saw the club eventually go to five in the back and bunker to defend the lead. While it wasn’t quite as bad against Toronto FC, the defense and Pedro Gallese still needed to stand on their collective heads at times to maintain the lead. Orlando City did better to try to get that second goal against Toronto, but this week I think they will actually need to make it happen. Clean sheets are hard to come by despite Gallese earning four so far this season, and we shouldn’t expect to keep blanking the competition. I think it might be time for van der Water to open his account, or for Mueller or Benji Michel to get their first goals of the season.
That’s how I see the upcoming match. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.