The MLS schedulers have brought us to a holiday week with two games against Eastern Conference, beginning with game 1 in Orlando tonight and continuing Saturday with game 2 in Chester. We caught up with Ben Miller ahead of tonight’s game to see where the Lions are at. You can also check out the questions I answered for Ben on The Mane Land.
Eleven points separate these two teams in the standing. What’s the case for these teams being closer in terms of talent than their records suggest?
My case would have a lot to do with Orlando not necessarily playing up to its potential. Part of that is due to a large amount of roster turnover and guys that are growing accustomed to James O’Connor’s system. Injuries and call-ups have kept the lineups inconsistent at times but not as bad as in years past. In general I would say this is a team that is still coming together and finding itself and a lot of the growing pains its been having have caused the gap in the table.
On paper, Orlando City is one of the stingier defenses in the conference at fifth in goals conceded. Presumably this means the attack has been the bigger issue with the team this year?
Hundred percent the attack has been the issue. Orlando has had a hell of a time taking its chances and putting the ball in the back of the net this year. The team has recorded a number of one goal losses, and often created good chances in those games that simply weren’t put away. It remains to be seen if the attack will catch fire or the team needs to invest in another scoring threat, but the difficulty scoring has certainly been the team’s biggest issue this year.
With this being the first of a two-game set, do you think Orlando will play differently on Wednesday at home than they will Saturday in Chester?
I would expect Orlando to be the aggressor on Wednesday. The team just got back a lot of international players and Dom Dwyer will be available for selection after the birth of his second child, so reinforcements are arriving that weren’t previously available. With that in mind I think the team will certainly press to get all three points at home and then probably opt for a more cautious approach when it comes to going on the road.
Injuries/Suspension, call-ups? Projected starting XI and score prediction?
As far as I know the only player unavailable through injury is Joao Moutinho who is currently recovering from a hamstring injury.
Danilo Acosta, Lamine Sane, Robin Jansson, Ruan
Sebas Mendez, Will Johnson, Dillon Powers
Nani, Tesho Akindele, Chris Mueller
Score prediction: 2-1 Orlando by the skin of the teeth