Orlando City travels to Texas to take on Austin FC for the first time in club history. It will be the third MLS away match in a row for the Lions. Back-to-back trips to Canada resulted in a loss to CF Montréal, and a last-minute winner over Toronto FC. Orlando City will look to make it two wins in a row — this time against the men in green.
This match is going to be a tough road challenge for the Lions. Austin FC is very good at home, and the club’s supporters create an intimidating atmosphere for opponents. Here are the things that Orlando City needs to do to secure three points on the road in Austin.
Take Advantage of Tired Legs
After three matches in eight days, with the two trips to Canada and the Open Cup victory over the Philadelphia Union at home, Orlando City actually has eight days of rest heading into the match against Austin FC. It is a much-needed break for the Lions, and it may also provide a distinct advantage.
Austin FC played a late match at LAFC on Wednesday night. Only four days of rest and coming off a trip to California means the McConaugheys (do they have an actual nickname?) will have some tired legs. Orlando City needs to jump on its opponents early and often to make Austin run and also take the crowd out of the equation. Orlando City does not want to get into a score-fest with Austin. Good passing and a bit of keep away will work to the Lions’ favor.
Entering the Wednesday match at LAFC, Austin FC (6-3-2) and Orlando City (6-4-2) had similar records, the same number of points, and sat in the top three of their respective conferences. One big difference between the two clubs is the goal differential. The Lions have scored 14 goals, and have given up 15 goals, for a -1 goal differential. Austin FC has scored 23 goals, and conceded only 11 goals for a +12 goal differential.
A big contributor for Austin FC is Sebastián Driussi, who already has seven goals this season. Assuming we see a first-choice lineup, the six defenders in the back (Ruan, Rodrigo Schlegel, Robin Jansson, João Moutinho, César Araújo, and presumably Andrés Perea) will need to do everything possible to stop him and the rest of Austin’s potent attack, and allow Pedro Gallese to earn another clean sheet. With the Open Cup match against Inter Miami only three days later, it will be interesting to see who gets the start and how long they play.
Manage the Midfield
Alex Ring, Ethan Finlay, and Daniel Pereira are just three of the midfielders that Orlando City will need to contend with this weekend. The trio have five goals so far this season, and will look to control the match. How well Mauricio Pereyra and Júnior Urso are able to find space and connect passes through Austin’s lines will determine if the Lions are able to score enough goals to secure the win.
Of course, Facundo Torres, and potentially Alexandre Pato will be needed to assist in that endeavor. There is also a good chance that Robin Jansson will make one of his patented, deceptive, deep runs into the opponent’s half that seem to happen at least once per match. Look for these midfield battles to see which team will have the upper hand and potentially the victory.
That is what I will be looking for as the Lions look for the first win against Austin FC. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.