California has not been kind to Orlando City. In fact, the Lions have never won in the Golden State, even though there are three teams that they can get a crack at, although not every single year. Regardless, it’s been tough sledding for OCSC out west, but the team gets a chance to break the drought this weekend when it heads across a few time zones to take on the LA Galaxy.
What follows are my three keys to the game if Orlando wants to get a win on the road against the Galaxy.
This one is pretty simple (to pick out, not to actually do). Javier Hernandez has two goals in three games, one of which was a late match-winner during the first week of the season. During the 2021 season he had 17 goals and three assists in 21 matches, so to say he represents a danger at the offensive end of the field is putting it lightly. He will require the full attention of Antonio Carlos and Robin Jansson for the entire time he’s on the field, and the duo can’t afford to switch off at all when it comes to the Little Pea.
The 90th-minute winner he scored against New York City FC on opening day should be an excellent reminder that he’s the kind of player who can be quiet for nearly an entire game before making a match-deciding contribution. Keeping him well marshalled will go a long way towards Orlando City getting a result.
Joao Moutinho vs. Douglas Costa
Douglas Costa was signed by the Galaxy during the off-season. The midfielder has started all three of the team’s games and opened his scoring account in last week’s 3-2 loss to the Seattle Sounders. Costa has been deployed on the right side of the Galaxy midfield, meaning it will fall to Joao Moutinho to match up against the Brazilian. So far this season, Moutinho has played fairly conservatively, letting Ruan get forward from the other fullback position and tucking in next to Carlos and Jansson when his fellow defender does so. Not only will Moutinho need to prevent Costa from making an impact on the game offensively, but how much or little Joao contributes for the Lions offensively might make a big difference in this one.
Convert the Chances
This cannot be overstated. Against FC Cincinnati Orlando took 18 shots, but only put six of them on target and had one goal to show for it when the dust settled. While Alec Kann made an excellent save to deny Ercan Kara in the first half and also stopped a great chance from Alexandre Pato, there’s a case to be made that both Lions should have maybe done a bit better with their finishes. Had they done so, it would have been 3-1 at halftime and a completely different game. Shoulda, coulda, woulda-isms aside, OCSC isn’t likely to get 18 shots off for a second week in a row, so the boys in purple really need to bring their shooting boots and make the most of the ones they do get. You always need to be clinical, but converting opportunities in front of goal takes on added importance on the road, and even more so for an Orlando side that only has three goals in three games to start the season.
So there you have it. Stop Chicharito, Moutinho gets the better of Costa, Orlando City puts its chances in the back of the net, and boom, all three points against the Galaxy for the first time in California. Easy right?