We’re less than a week away from Orlando City’s return to MLS action in a match against the New England Revolution. The international break could not have come at a better time for Orlando City, and now the tired legs we saw in the 3-1 loss to FC Dallas are rested and ready to play.
The Lions travel to Gillette Stadium for the match against last season’s Supporters Shield winner. Normally, away matches in MLS are tough, and the Lions have had a tough go of it at New England throughout their history, but Orlando City has been good on the road this season and will be looking to get back in the win column. Here are the things that Orlando City needs to do to secure three points on the road in Foxborough.
Which Keeper is the Better Backup?
This is a big, wide-open question right now for both clubs. Matt Turner is departing New England for original England with his transfer to Arsenal. Turner is also with the USMNT for the next two matches against Grenada and El Salvador on June 10 and June 14, respectively. It seems that he won’t be back for the match against Orlando City but has said he’ll play one more match for the Revolution on June 19 against Minnesota United FC.
This is a big advantage for Orlando City given that Turner is a top keeper in MLS and not having him stopping shots against the Lions is a definite plus. His replacement will most likely be Serbian shot stopper Djordje Petrović, though former Lion Earl Edwards Jr. is also a possibility. Regardless, it won’t be Turner.
On the other side, Orlando City may have its own challenge, as Pedro Gallese will be playing for Peru in their World Cup qualifier against Australia in Al Rayyan Stadium in Qatar on Monday, June 13. I’m not saying that El Pulpo couldn’t make it back in time to start on Wednesday — he’s done it before — but Lions’ supporters shouldn’t count on him making it. Of course, Orlando City knows exactly who is backing up Gallese, as Mason Stajduhar will step in as he has during the Open Cup matches to man the net. Stajduhar just signed a new three-year contract with the club illustrating what the Lions think of their backup keeper.
Whichever backup keeper has a better match might determine which club comes away with the points.
New England has plenty of options at striker, though now the Revs will have one fewer with the departure of Adam Buksa to RC Lens in French Ligue 1. Technically, Buksa will be at Gillette Stadium for the Orlando match, but he will not be playing. This is undeniably a good thing as Buksa tends to do very well against Orlando City. In the last match between the two teams, he scored a brace with a stoppage-time goal to steal points from the Lions.
As I mentioned, Buksa isn’t New England’s only attacker. The Lions will still need to deal with Gustavo Bou, Jozy Altidore, and attacking midfielder Carles Gil. It won’t be a cakewalk, but the return of Rodrigo Schlegel and Cesar Araújo will certainly bolster Orlando City’s defense.
On the attack, let’s hope that Ercan Kara is able to keep growing into the league and keep the scoring form that I wrote about last week. Orlando City needs to score more goals, and Kara’s production can go a long way to making that happen. Of course, Facundo Torres also needs to take more shots. Frankly, if Robin Jansson wants to make another of his long runs or act like a striker on a set piece, I’ll be extremely happy. I just want multiple goals. Preferrably three, which is something Orlando City has failed to do so far this season.
Orlando City did well to control just over the first two-thirds of the match against FC Dallas prior to the break. The Lions kept possession, created chances, and did all of it while obviously tired. Now that the players are rested, I’m looking for for Mauricio Pereyra and Júnior Urso to get back to top form. Urso’s connectivity from the back to the front, and Pereyra’s passing in the attacking game are often the difference in how well Orlando City is able to be the protagonist in a match.
Both can score, both can provide assists, and both solidify the midfield for Orlando City, though they do so in different ways. Their teammates feed off of their passing, and they make those teammates better because of it. Look for the captain and the Bear to be the difference makers in the middle of the pitch.
That is what I will be looking for as the Lions look for points on the road in New England. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.