Orlando City will take on in-state rival Inter Miami CF in another edition of Tropic Thunder this Saturday night at Exploria Stadium. The Lions are coming off their first three-goal effort against D.C. United. Unfortunately, the club also gave up five goals to drop three points at home. With the fixtures coming fast and furious this July, securing a derby win is even more important.
If this was an Open Cup match I’d feel pretty good, but the regular season has not been great at home for the Lions. Here are the things that Orlando City needs to do to secure three points against Inter Miami this weekend.
Get Back on Defense
Orlando City earned six clean sheets in the first 12 regular-season matches with a 6-4-2 record. In the last six matches the Lions have yet to earn another clean sheet, posting a 1-3-2 record. The absences due to yellow card accumulation, red cards, and injuries haven’t helped, but the defense is supposed to be the stronger part of Orlando City’s roster.
Now that Antônio Carlos has some minutes back under his belt, it is time for the Brazilian center back to put in a full 90 minutes for the Lions. Orlando is simply better when both he and Robin Jansson are on the field together.
Of course, the return of João Moutinho to the left back position is very important as we found out when Kyle Smith had one of his worst matches as a Lion on Monday night. Smith is usually solid, if not spectacular, but when he is off his game, he can become a liability. If Moutinho is healthy, he is the obvious first choice. Whether he is back in time — or even still in Orlando — will be a deciding factor on how well Orlando City is able to defend against Miami’s attack.
Just Say No to Campana
I was really hoping I could think of a decently punny way of using Leonardo Campana’s name for this section, but sometimes the muse isn’t available. If you think of something good, let me know in the comments. Jokes aside, Orlando City needs to shut down Campana in a way the Lions did not do to Taxi Fountas. Campana is sitting on eight goals so far this season and is Inter Miami’s primary threat on offense.
This relates back to Orlando City’s back line getting back to form, but it also involves the defensive midfielders. Whether it is César Araújo or Sebas Méndez, keeping Inter Miami’s midfielders from providing service to Campana allows Jansson and Carlos to deal with the balls coming in from the wings.
Create Magic without Mauri
As I write this, Mauricio Pereyra’s status for this weekend is unknown. The last time I saw him, he was limping off the field. As I wrote last week, Pereyra is the most important part of Orlando City’s offense.
I’m going to be a pessimist and assume he won’t be able to start this weekend. If that is the case, either someone needs to step up into his role — which hasn’t happened so far this season — or the attacking tactics need to be adjusted. Since Andres Perea hasn’t made the necessary jump in quality to back up Pereyra, then it might need to be Alexandre Pato. Unfortunately, Pato’s form hasn’t been the best lately either. Hopefully, making that penalty kick the other night gets him back on track.
The answer might be a slight shape change. We know that Facundo Torres likes to roam from sideline to sideline. Take a chance with Pato and Jake Mulraney playing an outside to inside position based on where Torres moves. If Mulraney doesn’t work out, bring in Benji Michel, or Tesho Akindele. Perhaps Óscar Pareja starts Jack Lynn up top with Ercan Kara and runs a 4-4-2. The point is something needs to change if Pereyra isn’t on the field.
That is what I will be looking for as the Lions look for all three points in the latest edition of Tropic Thunder. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.