It’s round seven of the MLS season, and it’s the first western conference road trip for Orlando City. In fact, it’s the second of three matches in a row against western conference opponents. Let’s look back at the win over Colorado last week and look ahead to the game tonight in Utah.
OCSC vs. COL Review
Last week’s game had almost everything: it had weather delays, singing in the rain (by the supporters), a PK, four lead changes, seven goals, Nani’s first goals in purple, and Orlando City’s first home victory of the season. OCSC conceded the first goal within the first ten minutes—what else is new? It was frustrating to give up a goal so early to a team that had struggled so much so far in the season. But in the 31st minute Nani scored an equalizer, heading in a ball that was passed to him by João Moutinho. The goal redeemed Nani’s missed header in the previous week’s game against DC United. This time the World Cup champion got plenty of air under him and drove the ball down into the net with authority. And just two minutes later Tesho Akindele put the Lions ahead with a rebound from a deflected shot off the gloves of Tim Howard. Remember last year how I griped and complained and exhorted Orlando City to send multiple players in the attack? They are obviously listening, because you get rebound goals like this one from having additional attackers trail the initial attacking play.
Then… halftime happened. And with that came a weather delay of over an hour. The unfortunate thing is that this delay also killed momentum, and when the second half got underway, Colorado was able to get back on track. In the 61’ Nicolás Mezquida scored by weaving through miles of open space, and in the 71’ Cole Bassett put Colorado back in the lead with another goal from an Orlando City lapse. The stadium was disappointed, and they were starting to get angry. I was already screaming at the coach to put Chris Mueller in, and the coach waited another ten minutes just to taunt me with my own impatience. At 80’ Coach O’Connor finally put in Cash Money Mueller and in the next minute the decision paid dividends. Mueller scored in the 81’ and then Nani converted a PK in the 89’ to put Orlando City back in the lead for good.
The fans rewarded the team by largely staying during the long rain delay, and the team rewarded the fans with the late scores and getting a win at home. The team showed they are starting to come together, and once again it’s starting to be a lot of fun to watch this team again.
RSL vs. OCSC Team Comparison
At a point in the season when OCSC looks like they are starting to figure out what to do, RSL seems to be in a spot of trouble. After a draw and a win to start the season, RSL has lost four in a row. They have a defense worse than Orlando City, surrendering 13 goals in six matches (OCSC has conceded 11), and RSL has only managed to score five goals on the season, while OSCS has scored 10 in the same number of games. I’m wary of calling anything with this team an easy win—unlike LAFC, Orlando City has yet to prove to anyone that they can be counted on to go out and perform at a consistently high level week after week. Maybe looking deeper into the teams will help things.
Real Salt Lake - Season to Date
|Goals Scored||5||Goals Allowed||13|
|Shots||44||Shots on Target||21|
Real Salt Lake - Players to Watch
|Scoring Leader:||Albert Rusnák||2|
|Assist Leader:||Albert Rusnák|
|Shot Leader:||Jefferson Savarino||14|
|Passing Leader:||Albert Rusnák||88.3%|
|WSC* Rating:||Albert Rusnák||6.93|
*WhoScored.com player rating
Orlando City - Season to Date
|Goals Scored||10||Goals Allowed||11|
|Shots||45||Shots on Target||23|
Orlando City - Players to Watch
|Scoring Leader:||Dom Dwyer||3|
|Shot Leader:||Dom Dwyer||23|
|Passing Leader:||Sebastián Méndez||86.0%|
|WSC* Rating:||João Moutinho||7.29|
*WhoScored.com player rating
Starting XI Prediction
Carlos Ascues, Lamine Sane, and Alex De John all did not travel with the team due to either nagging injury or being rested, according to Jordan Culver’s reporting late this week. I am convinced that the team works better in a 3-back defensive formation, and I’m really only guessing that we will see Miller and Acosta in the back line with Jansson.
A few weeks ago, Orlando City had a shaky defensive home game when they leaked 3 goals on the defense to Montreal. The next week, they followed that up with a clean sheet win over New York Red Bulls. Last week they had another shaky defensive outing, allowing 3 goals against Colorado. I think that the team will come out with better defensive focus in this game. I would be tempted to predict a shutout, but I’ve spent several summers hiking around the high-altitude deserts and alpine ski resorts of southern and northern Utah. The altitude is a factor, and I believe that we will see Orlando City’s players get gassed in the second half from that. So I predict a 3 - 1 victory for the visitors with the goal from RSL coming late and just overpowering an exhausted Lions defender.
What are your thoughts on the match? Do you think Orlando City can string together two wins in a row? And with three of our defensive players out, who do you see starting on the back line for Orlando City this week? Let me know in the comments below!