The summer swoon is back for Orlando City, just in time for a three-match road trip that starts with NYCFC, a team which attacks relentlessly and moves the ball quickly. Orlando City may be in for a long night at the baseball diamond tonight if they haven't corrected the lack of assertiveness in the final touch that I've been complaining about for several matches now.
Injuries, World Cup Duty, and Players to Watch
In terms of passing, offensive, and defensive statistics below, the players named are those who do not appear on the league injury report and who have accumulated at least 540 minutes for their team on the season.
- International duty: D - Ronald Matarrita (Costa Rica), M - Rodney Wallace (Costa Rica)
- Injury Report:
- OUT: M - Yangel Herrera (ankle)
- Passing Leaders: Ebenezer Ofori (90.2% Accuracy), Maximiliano Moralez (5.6 Long Balls/match), Alexander Callens (69.3 Passes/match)
- Offensive Leaders: David Villa (8 Goals, 3 Assists, 3.8 Shots/match), Maximiliano Moralez (3 Assists, 2.8 Key Passes/match)
- Defensive Leaders: Alexander Ring (3.1 Tackles/match, 2.5 Interceptions/match), Maxime Chanot (5.8 Clearances/match), Alexander Callens (0.9 Blocks/match)
- International duty: M - Yoshi Yotun (Peru), D - Amro Tarek (Egypt)
- Injury Report:
- OUT: GK - Mason Stajduhar, D - Chris Schuler (broken arm)
- QUESTIONABLE: F - Dom Dwyer (lower body injury), D - Scott Sutter (lower body injury), D - Lamine Sane (lower body injury), D - Jonathan Spector (concussion)
- Passing Leaders: Will Johnson (86.6% Accuracy, 4.8 Long Balls/match), Sacha Kljestan (55.2 Passes/match)
- Offensive Leaders: Chris Mueller (3 goals), Sacha Kljestan (3 assists, 3.1 Key Passes/match), Justin Meram (3 Shots/match)
- Defensive Leaders: Mohamed El-Munir (4.9 Tackles/match, 3.4 Interceptions/match, 0.6 Blocks/match), Will Johnson (2.5 Clearances/match)
In researching the leaders for both teams on WhoScored.com, it's a bit distressing to see how many of the actual leaders in many of the categories for Orlando City appear on this week's injury list or those on international duty. Perhaps this is an explanation for why the team is struggling of late. If that's the case, it could be some time until players that haven't seen much playing time get some games under their belts.
Lineup and Score Prediction
Chris Schuler played the entire second half of last week's match with a broken arm, which speaks to a position on the roster where the team can ill-afford any other injuries. With Tarek out and Sane hurt, we're seeing a lot of inexperienced defenders that may be called upon to try to fill in on the defensive line. Tony Rocha was recalled from loan to Saint Louis FC and pressed into the Starting XI last week, and I'm expecting he'll likely be back again. Orlando Sentinel beat writer Jordan Culver reported this week that Jonathan Spector was a full participant in practice and he may be in the Starting XI. My concern is that he's had to be held out of practice so long with concussion symptoms that he may not have the fitness to be a starter. Also, there's the fact that the concussion that has had him out for nearly two months came at Yankee Stadium the last time the Lions faced NYCFC.
In terms of the scoreline, Orlando City is going to need to show me they are capable of winning before I'm going to have confidence picking them again. I just don't see enough quality in the way they are finishing chances and taking advantage of opportunities that present themselves during the run of play. Until they start proving they are hungry enough to really want to win, then I'm going to be predicting them to come up short. For today, I predict another 2 - 1 loss for Orlando City based on the way they and NYCFC have both been playing of late.
What are your thoughts on the match? Do you think that Orlando City can pull out of the skid or do you think they have decided it's time to take their hands off the wheel, stand on the brakes, and brace for the inevitable crunch of the retaining wall that's coming? Let me know in the comments below.