In this edition of Oppo Research, Hudson River Blue spoke with the Ben Miller of the Mane Land to learn more about Orlando City, New York City FC’s opponent in tomorrow’s game at Citi Field. Here is your NYCFC vs Orlando preview.
1. Positive vibes all around Orlando
Hudson River Blue: Orlando City are on a great run of form and are unbeaten in their last five MLS games since crashing out of the Leagues Cup. Orlando are also second place in the Eastern Conference and Supporters Shields race. What’s the vibe in the sunshine state these days?
Ben Miller: Simply put, the vibes are crispy clean. The only way the feelings about this team can get any better is if Orlando gets a result on the road against NYCFC and knocks off Miami at home on Sunday. If both of those things happen then the mood will reach an absolute fever pitch.
As it is, people are in love with this team and it’s a far cry from the early days of the season where the Lions were having some trouble gelling and there were certain sections of the fanbase that wanted Oscar Pareja gone. Voicing a take like that these days is likely to get you a one-way ticket out of town.
2. Counter-attacking leads to road results
HRB: Orlando are the best side on the road in MLS. What is the key to the team’s impressive away form?
BM: Being on the road favors the style of play that suits the team best. For the most part this year, Orlando has had difficulty when possessing the ball and using it to try and break teams down. Things have gone much better when the Lions can sit back, absorb attacks and then hit teams on the counter. That tends to be the blueprint for getting results on the road, and that’s exactly how its been this year for OCSC.
3. Duncan McGuire and Ramiro Enrique are the dangermen
HRB: Orlando are a strong side on both sides of the ball. Pedro Gallese is a solid goalkeeper between the posts. In attack, Facundo Torres has scored 12 goals and is three goals shy of taking the lead in the MLS Golden Boot race. Who else should NYCFC be worried about on Wednesday?
BM: Duncan McGuire has taken sole possession of the starting striker role following Ercan Kara being sold to Samsunspor, and he has eight goals and two assists in 23 games as a rookie. That being said, he’s scoreless in his last five league games and went off injured against FC Cincinnati back on September 2nd, although he’ll be back for this one.
Ramiro Enrique came on for McGuire against FCC, had the assist on the game-winning goal, and then had two goals and an assist (including the game-winner) during Saturday’s chaotic comeback against the Columbus Crew. He likely won’t start but is in good form and is someone to watch of the bench. Finally, Martin Ojeda has six goals and nine assists on the year and had one of each against the Crew. He’s another guy who might not start, but has shown himself to be capable of providing a spark.
4. The X-factor: A possible rotated lineup
HRB: What’s the X-factor that could decide this game?
BM: How much of an eye the team has on Sunday’s game against Miami. Regardless, I don’t think this is going to be an easy game at all for Orlando City, as the Lions have consistently struggled when playing NYCFC on the road.
Even if Oscar Pareja uses a first choice lineup, I still think OCSC is going to have an extremely difficult time on Wednesday, but if Papi rings the changes and trots out a heavily rotated side to try and keep his killers fresh for Sunday, then I think the Lions’ fate might be sealed. Plus, while no one is saying it, this team badly wants to avenge the Leagues Cup loss to Miami, especially with the game being at Exploria Stadium.
5. Predicted Orlando Starting XI
HRB: Prediction time: Starting XI? Final score?
BM: I have a feeling that we’ll see some degree of rotation during this one, but I could be wildly off the mark with this. Rogue lineup or not, this just reeks of a trap game to me. Bad record against NYCFC on the road, coming off a hugely emotional win on Saturday with a massively hyped match just around the corner on Sunday…I just have a bad feeling about it. NYCFC win 2-1.