Orlando City is riding a two-game losing streak heading into the away match against Toronto FC at BMO Field on Saturday night. Fortunately, the Lions have had a bit of a break, with 10 days since the last time they played. Óscar Pareja doesn’t like to lose, so you can be darn sure he is going to do everything possible to get his team back on track. What does Orlando City need to do to get back to winning and earn three points?
Orlando City is heading to the Great White North for the first time in quite a while. There won’t be fans in the stands, but it’s not Exploria Stadium either. Toronto will be motivated to win in its first match back home, and the potential return of Jozy Altidore to the club will have the Reds fired up. Orlando City needs to weather the initial assault and to be able to counter. Getting the first goal will be important. With Daryl Dike away on international duty we can expect to see our own Canadian, Tesho Akindele, play striker. He has scored in each of Orlando City’s last two matches against Toronto, and if he can do so again, the Lions could earn some points on the road.
Chris Mueller has two goals in the last three matches, and is looking like the player who scored 10 goals with seven assists last season. Orlando City needs the Money Badger to continue his run of good form against Toronto FC. Mueller didn’t play a lot of minutes last match, and with there being 10 days between matches, he should be well rested. There’s also the reports of Mueller being pursued by some Belgium clubs. Not that he isn’t self-motivated enough, but he’s in the final year of his contract and is looking for his next deal. Whether that deal is with Orlando City or in Europe may depend on how he performs this season. Mueller doesn’t necessarily have to score (though it would be nice), but he needs to contribute to the attack in a meaningful way.
Kyle Smith and Michael Halliday are not starting fullbacks. Yes, they’ve been starting, but the Lions are certainly missing João Moutinho and Ruan. That’s not to say that Smith and Halliday are not good backups. Setting aside the last match, Smith has played better than last season, and Halliday has made a good start for a rookie, but they are not the first choice if everyone is healthy. How those two are able to handle the Toronto attack will determine whether or not Orlando City is able to secure points on the road. When Orlando’s defense is working properly, the Lions turn attacks wide and force teams to take chances from outside and bad angles. If the fullbacks don’t do their jobs, it makes it harder for the center backs and Pedro Gallese to do theirs. The wild card is the recent addition of defender Emmanuel Mas. Mas was training with Orlando City before the official signing, so it’s not inconceivable that he makes the lineup for Toronto.
Those are the things I’ll be looking for Saturday night. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.