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Tweaks and Changes Orlando City Could Make for Facing FC Dallas

Coping with the transitional threat FC Dallas brings could see changes in Orlando City’s approach.

MLS: Orlando City SC at Austin FC Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

The fullbacks in Oscar Pareja’s system have been vital in how Orlando City has attacked this season. The width they provide allows the wide forwards the opportunity to be more inventive and cause opposition defenders concern with their freedom to stay wide or cut inside with lots of fluidity.

On the right, Ruan has managed to get himself on the scoresheet twice this season, as has João Moutinho on the left.

Ruan’s pace against Charlotte got him involved in both goals, by providing the assist on a counterattack from the opponent’s corner.

Orlando has not seen the production from wide crosses from their fullbacks bringing assists though. With a player so strong in the air in Ercan Kara, this may be something which will be targeted more this weekend while preparing from transitional moments.

MLS: US Open Cup-Philadelphia Union at Orlando City FC Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

FC Dallas has caused so much trouble for MLS sides by getting in behind defenders who are high up the field. The pace of Jesús Ferreira and Paul Arriola has been difficult for anyone to deal with. With this in mind, the roles of Ruan and Moutinho may need to be restricted somewhat with the knowledge that Arriola and Jáder Obrian are likely to start on either wing.

Throughout the season so far, Arriola has five goals and three assists, and he has been the more favored target on the counterattack, which Ruan will need to monitor.

Ferreira has nine goals and two assists to add to Arriola’s totals, which has made them a difficult duo to contend with. They both stay high on the final man, while their teammates are comfortable in maintaining possession in their own half. When Dallas players can draw enough pressure from their opponents, they look to release their forwards with a longer pass behind a high defensive line.

Orlando’s high fullbacks and three attacking midfielders behind Kara is something which Nico Estévez will have his side target this weekend. The idea behind his philosophy of soccer with the players he has would welcome a high-pressing side that likes to get their fullbacks high.

What Pareja will need to also consider is who is playing centrally with the suspensions to César Araujo in midfield and Rodrigo Schlegel in central defense.

Not only may the fullbacks need to play a different role, but the spine of the side will also be altered, and Dallas will look to punish early any hesitation in settling into the game for new partnerships in key areas.

Kyle Smith or Homegrown defender Thomas Williams will start with Robin Jansson in central defense. Smith is normally a fullback but has plenty of experience to slot right in. We could see a start for Sebas Méndez alongside either Junior Urso or Andres Perea in what will be a difficult day for the midfield.

MLS: Orlando City SC at Austin FC Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

Understanding when to press and when to support their center backs will be a constant challenge throughout the game. Dallas can bring players like Alan Velasco into deeper positions to create opportunities going forward and there will be a lot of rotation in there with Paxton Pomykal having come more central in some games. They are a hard team to predict in some ways, and Pareja will have studied their recent defeat to Minnesota United, which came away with a 2-1 win in Dallas using a 4-2-3-1 formation.

Minnesota looked to stay a little more compact in defense and Pareja will have to consider whether to adapt his system or if he feels he can force the visitors to change theirs.

This is a big game with both sides sitting third in their conferences and both managers will be looking to have their sides assert themselves on the game.

The question Pareja will have to answer is: Does he limit his fullbacks in the attacking phase in response to Dallas’ counterattacking play? And, if so, how will this affect Orlando’s ability to create goalscoring opportunities?