Orlando City heads to the Windy City for its first road match of the season against the Chicago Fire. The Lions are 2-3-2 when traveling to Chicago, but away matches are never easy in MLS. Orlando City has a new offense that looked pretty good in week one, but now it’s time to see how it does on the road. What do the Lions need to do to secure all three points in Chicago?
The Problem of Przybylko
Dealing with Kacper Przybyłko is never easy, and now the Lions have to do so with Robin Jansson missing the match due to a red card last match. With Jansson out, it will be Rodrigo Schlegel who partners with Antonio Carlos this week. Carlos won MLS Team of the Week honors for his performance against CF Montréal at home.
In 2021, Przybyłko scored 12 goals and contributed four assists on the season. The truly concerning part is that three of the 12 goals and one of the four assists came against Orlando City. The first of those came in Orlando City’s 2-1 win last July against the Philadelphia Union. Przybyłko then scored a brace and got an assist in the rematch during a 3-1 Orlando loss last September.
Przybyłko benefited from a controversial non-call and should have been sent off for his elbow to Schlegel’s face, but PRO gonna PRO. Schlegel will do well to remember both the elbow and the non-call when defending Przybyłko, as the Lions cannot afford to lose him to a red card. Carlos and Schlegel will need to work together to keep the Polish striker from punishing the Lions once again.
Blunt the Shaq Attack
It’s been less than a year since Xherdan Shaqiri was wearing Liverpool red, and playing for one of the best clubs in the world. Now he is with the Chicago Fire, and he is a dangerous addition in the midfield. In his first match he led Chicago in key passes, with five, and contributed three accurate long balls.
It’s a good thing that the Lions are playing Chicago early as Shaqiri is still adjusting to his new club and to MLS. Despite that, he will pose a challenge for Orlando City’s defensive midfielders. Whether it is Sebas Méndez or César Araújo that gets the start, they will need to be vigilant from the opening whistle. Limiting his impact on the attack is essential to defeating Chicago.
Utilize the Wings
Chicago doesn’t have a ton of speed on the wings on offense, which allows both Ruan and João Moutinho to move up field into the attack, while still being able to get back to defend. We saw how effective this was last week on the right with Facundo Torres and Ruan playing off each other and Mauricio Pereyra on the first goal.
If Orlando City is able to do this, it will draw Chicago’s offensive players back towards their own goal, and since they don’t have the same speed on the wings as the Lions, it will make attacking the Orlando City defense all the more difficult.
Those are the things I’ll be looking for this weekend. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Vamos Orlando!