Another Orlando City game is upon us, which means its time to preview this week’s opponent with the help of the people who know them best. This week Orlando travels north to take on the New York Red Bulls, and the Lions will be hoping to avoid another last-minute draw like the one that occurred the last time they visited Red Bull Arena.
Gerhard Struber has now had some time to settle in and start to make this team his own. How do the Red Bulls look under him compared to the Chris Armas-led version?
Ben Cork: The Red Bulls have sputtered a little out of the gate, but the presence of clear tactics and straight talk from the manager has fans fairly optimistic for now. A product of the Red Bull Salzburg coaching structure, Struber is a devotee of a high-pressing system but in a 4-4-2 diamond formation rather than the traditional 4-2-3-1 used by New York in the Red Bull era. Unlike the Armas teams, which were often muddled by a strange fixation with slow possession play, Struber’s teams look to get the ball to the forwards quickly and typically in the air, helping the Brazilian target man Fabio catch the most attention early on.
Patryk Klimala and Frankie Amaya were the two big arrivals for NYRB during the off-season. How have the two looked so far?
BC: Though he is still struggling fitness-wise to go a full 90 minutes, Frankie Amaya has immediately made the midfield diamond more coherent and dangerous after the more technically-limited Cristian Cásseres had been used in the 10 role early on.
Patryk Klimala has had less time to show his talents so far, but early glimpses as a substitute (particularly two weeks ago against Philadelphia) are very promising. Struber has praised Klimala’s off-ball runs and indeed the Polish youth international’s confident movement looks to result in goals sooner rather than later.
Aaron Long’s season is over after the defender ruptured his Achilles tendon last week. What will be done to replace him in defense?
BC: It’s hard to tell at the moment and I think the front office are still trying to do their calculations before making a decision during the international break. Long was arguably the team’s most important player, and replacing him is not exactly as straightforward as Struber expressed when asked last week. Off-season transfer signing Andres Reyes stepped in last week against New England and was impressive...before being sent off for two yellow cards. With Reyes suspended and fellow reserve center back Amro Tarek working off an injury, the team may be forced to switch to a three-man backline in order to deploy a more natural fullback such as Tom Edwards or Mandela Egbo in the middle with first-choice starter Sean Nealis.
Are there any injuries, suspensions, or call-ups that will keep players unavailable for selection? What is your projected starting lineup and score prediction.
BC: As mentioned above, the defense will be very makeshift with Reyes definitely out and Tarek a question mark. Starting left back Andrew Gutman has missed the last two games through injury but is reportedly closer to health. Most pivotal could be the use of midfielder Dru Yearwood, a young Designated Player still working his way back to full fitness following a preseason injury and a red card two weeks ago in Philadelphia.
GK: Carlos Coronel.
LB: Andrew Gutman CB: Amro Tarek CB: Sean Nealis RB: Tom Edwards.
DM: Sean Davis CM: Dru YearwoodC M: Caden Clark AM: Frankie Amaya.
ST: Fabio Gomes Netto ST: Patryk Klimala.
Score Prediction: 2-2.
Big thanks again to Ben for the great preview of the Red Bulls. Vamos Orlando!