If I’m being honest, I did not expect Orlando City to pull out that victory over the New York Red Bulls last week. In fact, I predicted a loss on The Mane Land PawedCast. Now, the Lions are on the road again, this time traveling to North Carolina to take on Charlotte FC. As good as Orlando City has been on the road this season, Charlotte FC has been better at home. Following up a win with another win hasn’t been easy for Orlando City this season — the team has only done it once during the regular season — but here’s hoping it can happen again.
Here are the things that Orlando City needs to do to secure three points at Bank of America Stadium.
Find an Attacking Option
Ercan Kara may or may not be available as he was questionable for the match against the Red Bulls after being injured for a few weeks. Even missing time recently and at the beginning of the season, he is Orlando City’s leading scorer with seven goals. Alexandre Pato suffered a “lower body injury” and, barring an appearance from Mr. Miyagi, will be unavailable for the Charlotte match. Benji Michel has two goals this season, and that is with several starts over the past month. Robin Jansson has as many goals as Mauricio Pereyra has in the regular season this year. If you are seeing a theme, it is that attacking options are severely limited for this club.
Facundo Torres has five goals this season, and is seemingly hitting his offensive stride. Let’s hope that is the case, but some of that was thanks to Pato playing that middle role, and that won’t be an option this weekend. I think that perhaps it is time to let Nicholas Gioacchini loose on the opposite side of Torres so that teams can’t solely focus on the Young DP. Heck, maybe Gioacchini can score a goal or two himself. The point is that the Lions will need to find someone to put the ball in the net without two of their better attacking players. You can’t win a match if you don’t score any goals.
Better Numbers from the Accountant
Last season, Kyle Smith was Óscar Pareja’s utility infielder. The Accountant was a plug-and-play option across the defense, and while not anyone’s first choice, he did well filling in for injured or tired players. This season, he hasn’t been as good. It pains me to say that, as I think he works hard and has the right attitude.
Smith will almost certainly get the start at left back since João Moutinho is out on yellow card suspension. Smith got the start last week as Ruan was on the bench. Of course, he doesn’t have the same level of offensive skill as Moutinho or Ruan. The only question is will Charlotte be able to exploit the left side of Orlando City’s defense with Smith filling in for Moutinho? I’m confident the hosts will try, and how the players around Smith are able to help him may determine how many chances Charlotte will get in this match.
Take Advantage of Tired Legs
Charlotte FC played an away match against New York City FC on Wednesday night, securing just its second road win of the season, 3-1. There is about 97 minutes on the legs of Charlotte’s players, and they will have had to travel. Orlando City has a full week’s rest following its win in New Jersey, meaning the Lions have had a normal week of rest and preparation.
This could give Orlando City an advantage, as long as the club can capitalize on it with crisper passes, and more chances on goal. Make Charlotte run. Make their players chase the ball. Keep possession, be methodical, and put shots on target. If the Lions can do so, it may be a long night for the home team.
Those are the things I’ll be looking for this weekend. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Vamos Orlando!