This week has been a great week around the Lions Teeth Media Office. Yes, I said Lions Teeth Media. You may have seen in the Q4 of last year that the web site got a little expansion, and there's a small but growing amount of daily content on the other page that's not exclusively related to soccer. The main page is still focused on The Beautiful Game in the City Beautiful, and it will continue to be for as long as the teams give me hope that one day they may yet make it to the playoffs and win some hardware to put in the club's trophy case. But there's some exciting prep work behind the scenes on the other side of the site to set up for some live casts of virtual tabletop games on twitch.tv coming later this year. And of course all that came in the wake of Orlando City's first win of 2019 as they took all three points at one of the most difficult road venues in all of MLS.
The MLS side is coming together, and the players seem to be learning from their mistakes. That is cause for encouragement. But there are still plenty of reasons to be concerned. Two weeks ago Orlando City gave up three goals at home, and keeper Brian Rowe is the busiest netminder in the league. Through four matches he has made 17 saves and has faced 24 shots on goal--both figures that top the MLS stat charts. When you consider that this week's opponent includes names like Wayne Rooney, Paul Arriola, and Luciano Acosta, chances are Rowe's reflexes are going to be tested again with more shots at the net.
OCSC and DCU: Team Comparisons
DC United is starting 2019 the same way they ended 2018--seemingly on a mission to dominate every match and make their goal an inviolable fortress that no opponent shall penetrate. The only reason they are not sitting on maximum points for the season is that they were held to a scoreless draw in Yankee Stadium. Through their three matches they have not given up a goal and they have scored seven times for a +7 goal differential, which is tied for best in MLS at this early juncture of the season. Wayne Rooney is tied for the league lead in scoring with three goals, and Junior Moreno is tied for the league lead in assists with three as well.
Meanwhile Orlando City is having a shaky but promising start to the season. As alluded to earlier the defensive struggles from 2018 are not entirely cured, as Orlando City has given up 24 shots on goal and has forced Brian Rowe to make 17 saves--both most in MLS. On the other hand, the young defense seems to be communicating better, and in the Red Bulls match last week they earned their first clean sheet of the season. Brian Rowe contributed to that with a couple of key early saves, and then as the match wore on the rest of the defense got into the act as they were tightly marking and holding a compact defensive shape. And Carlos Ascues may have made the save of the season for the club with his goal-line bicycle clearance late in the game.
DC United - Season to Date
|Goals Scored||7||Goals Allowed||0|
|Shots||46||Shots on Target||16|
DC United - Players to Watch
|Scoring Leader:||Wayne Rooney||3|
|Assist Leader:||Junior Moreno||3|
|Shot Leader:||Wayne Rooney||15|
|Passing Leader:||Luis Rodriguez||91.5%|
|WSC* Rating:||Junior Moreno||8.02|
*WhoScored.com player rating
Orlando City SC - Season to Date
|Goals Scored||5||Goals Allowed||6|
|Shots||30||Shots on Target||10|
Orlando City SC - Players to Watch
|Scoring Leader:||Dom Dwyer||2|
|Assist Leader:||Dom Dwyer|
|Shot Leader:||Dom Dwyer||10|
|Passing Leader:||Will Johnson||89.5%|
|WSC* Rating:||Brian Rowe||6.89|
*WhoScored.com player rating
Starting XI Prediction
I wish I could outright predict a win in this game. As I write this post, New England has won its first match of the season, and last week not many Orlando City fans thought that the Lions could pull off a win over even an international-duty thinned Red Bulls side on the road. All that is to say I think it's possible Orlando City could get a win. Just the same we are still leaking way too many shots on defense and DC United has yet to allow a goal at home or on the road. I will predict that of the streaks in play, Orlando City is the team that keeps its scoring streak alive, so DC United will be forced to surrender its first goal of the year. I am not sure that the effort will be enough to help us win, however. My score prediction is a 2 - 2 draw.
What is your prediction for tomorrow's score line? Are you confident in the ability of the team to defend the fortress at home, or do you think that Orlando City's ability to string together wins in consecutive games is going to take some more time to come together? Let me know in the comments below.