1.) Orlando Ciy is currently sitting in fourth place, but they’re just four points away from falling out of the playoffs. How has their season looked as a whole thus far?
It’s been extremely inconsistent, and the results have felt lacking lately. Orlando’s last two games against Colorado and Atlanta were 1-1 draws where Orlando initially had the lead but couldn’t hold onto it and put the game away. Right now it sort of feels like the team has missed some really good opportunities to get three points, largely in part to uninspiring offensive play.
2.) In the past five matches, City SC is just 1-2-2. What’s to blame for this rough stretch?
As alluded to above, the Lions have had trouble putting the ball in the back of the net. In MLS play Orlando has scored three or more goals only once — in a 5-3 home loss to D.C. United. Orlando has dangerous offensive players in Facundo Torres, Mauricio Pereyra and Ercan Kara, but the lack of a truly threatening winger on the right means that teams can focus on Torres and Pereyra and take them out of the game. The lack of dangerous attacking depth also means that when the team has to rotate there isn’t a ton of danger going forward. Hopefully, the addition of Nicholas Gioacchini will help, but the Lions still probably need another attacking signing to rectify some of their problems.
3.) For a team performing relatively well, it’s surprising to see Orlando with no All-Stars. That being said, does the team have any snubs? Who’s a star to watch out for?
If there’s a snub I’d say it’s Pedro Gallese. His 7 clean sheets are tied for fourth most in the league and he’s just been absolutely excellent this year. He’s been in particularly fine form since coming back from Copa America, and it’s a shame not to see him get some recognition. I mentioned Orlando’s 3 DPs earlier, but another guy to watch out for is Cesar Araujo. The defensive midfielder is a U-22 Initiative signing who came in and promptly stole the starting job from Ecuadoran international Sebas Mendez, who has since been traded to LAFC. His strong play in the middle of the field has allowed Orlando’s center-backs to get more involved in the attack, something Robin Jansson in particular really enjoys doing.
4.) Will Orlando have any notable absences on Saturday? What are your lineup and score predictions?
Goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar is listed out while he recovers from jaw surgery, while Adam Grinwis and Joao Moutinho are both listed as questionable, although Moutinho played against Arsenal on Wednesday. I don’t think we’ll have a Gioacchini sighting quite yet, as it still seems a bit early for that, but you never know.
Pedro Gallese; Joao Moutinho, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, Michael Halliday; Cesar Araujo, Junior Urso, Mauricio Pereyra; Facundo Torres, Ercan Kara, Tesho Akindele
Prediction: 1-0 Orlando City. God willing.