Orlando City will play Inter Miami CF Friday night at 8 p.m. in [checks notes] Fort Lauderdale, evidently. The match will be the Lions’ third in seven days. Orlando City is coming off two wins in a row, including a 5-0 drubbing of the San Jose Earthquakes. Of course, this is a rivalry match and anything can happen. What does Orlando City need to do to bring home another three points?
Keep Scoring Goals
I know that sounds obvious, but prior to the international break Orlando City scored eight goals in seven matches. In the two matches after the break, the Lions have also scored eight goals. That is a significant increase in production, and it may be that Orlando City has finally found that last little bit of quality in the final third.
One big (and I do mean big) difference is the return of Daryl Dike. Dike scored a brace in his first start since his return, and could have scored more. Tesho Akindele is having a good season with three goals and four assists. Nani has five goals, and almost as importantly, Benji Michel and Chris Mueller may be coming back to form. It doesn’t even need to be the expected scorers. Mauricio Pereyra, Andres Perea, or a Robin Jansson on a corner kick are all welcome possibilities. To complete a perfect week, the goals need to keep coming, no matter where they come from.
Boss the Midfield
Orlando City has done a good job managing minutes in the midfield despite Sebas Mendez being on international duty. Perea has played well in his absence, Uri Rosell has returned, and both Junior Urso and Pereyra got some rest against San Jose. Despite the congested schedule, the Orlando City midfield should have the legs to control the center of the pitch.
I should also mention that Miami’s defensive midfielder, Gregore, had his red card appeal denied on Wednesday. As such he will miss the match, giving the Lions another midfield advantage.
Make Them Earn It
Miami is riding a three-match losing streak and hasn’t scored a goal since May 16 against FC Cincinnati. That doesn’t mean Orlando City should be over confident. Rivalry matches can often be surprising. Miami has the ability to score even if they haven’t showed it recently.
Brandon Austin did have a clean sheet against San Jose, and will be making his third start for the Lions. He’s not Pedro Gallese, but he does seem to be a more than adequate backup. If Orlando City’s defense can continue to be solid without Ruan, the chances of winning are good even if the Lions can’t get a clean sheet. Michael Halliday is getting better with every minute of playing time he gets, and Kyle Smith continues to be the Swiss Army knife in Óscar Pareja’s defensive toolbox. I’m not even remotely worried about the Lions’ center backs. The Lions will need to continue to defend as a team to keep Miami’s losing streak going.
Those are the things I’ll be looking at this Friday. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.