Orlando City hosts the New York City Red Bulls this Sunday afternoon in Exporia Stadium. Usually, I would be watching this match from the comfort of my living room, but not this time. This time I will be live and in person with some of my family to see our club take on this Eastern Conference opponent. I’ll have a great view of the match.
Here are the things that Orlando City needs to do to secure three points at home.
Meet the Press
The Red Bulls will bring their normal pressing attack into Exploria and it is going to be especially important for the defense to weather that attack. There is going to be rotation in the lineup thanks to the Open Cup match against the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Regardless, I expect to see a first-choice back line for the Lions. Ruan, Rodrigo Schlegel, Robin Jansson, and João Moutinho will be positioned in front of Pedro Gallese. Sebas Méndez and César Araújo will likely be the first line of defense in the back.
Whether Mendez and Araújo, or Junior Urso and Araujo are in central midfield, it would be ideal if those players are able to intercept the ball in the middle of the pitch. Orlando likes to push opponents out to the wings, and make them beat them there, rather than allowing them to play through the middle. How Moutinho and Ruan deal with their assignments will determine how much Schlegel and Jansson have to clean up in the middle.
If the Red Bulls get into the box, Orlando City needs to continue to do what it has mostly done this season. The players all seem willing to sacrifice their body to block a shot or clear a ball, and they do it as a team. That leads me to the second factor.
Limit the Mistakes
Many of the goals allowed by Orlando City have been related directly to dumb mistakes or bad PRO referee calls. In the match against LAFC, the Lions really only made four mistakes, but LAFC made them pay for each of them. In the first match against the Chicago Fire, Urso’s goal was wrongly called off by the referee after video review. Against Portland, Andrés Perea committed a penalty in the 79th minute, giving Portland the penalty goal and a draw.
These incidents amounted to six goals and potentially nine points. Even if Orlando City had only eliminated the mistakes in one of those matches, it still makes a difference. This illustrates the need for the players to keep their heads in the match, especially given it will be the third match in nine days.
Ercan Kara’s goal against the Columbus Crew was beauty personified when it comes to team buildup and excellent one-touch passes. It is the type of interplay that Oscar Pareja is looking for from his offense. If Orlando City can get close to that type of passing in the buildup towards goal, it could make the difference between winning and losing.
This type of play is something we’ve been waiting for since the club signed Kara and Facundo Torres. Their addition gives Mauricio Pereyra the players needed to run this type of offense, and will potentially make Orlando City a scoring powerhouse if the Lions continue to perform at such a level. The interesting thing is that all of the players are still learning how to play with each other, still growing together, and have room to improve. Can you imagine if that type of play becomes the norm or even better? As exciting as that is, Orlando City just needs to keep building on what we saw last week.
Those are the things I’ll be looking for this weekend. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Vamos Orlando!