Orlando City SC vs. New York City FC: What to Watch For



On Saturday, Orlando City SC will take on New York City FC in what will be their most hotly contested match since joining Major League Soccer.

The match will be both teams’ opener in the Carolina Challenge Cup in South Carolina. Orlando will go on to play hosts Charleston Battery (of USL) on Wednesday and the Houston Dynamo on the following Saturday. It will certainly be an important preseason tournament for all four teams involved.

The Lions have been training mostly locally in Orlando, most recently drawing 2-2 with Swedish club BK Hacken on Friday at the Sylvan Lake practice facility. On the other hand, NYCFC just completed a whirlwind trip to England. In their most recent outing, they were defeated 2-0 by Danish squad Brondby.

We'll leave the "are they or are they not a rival" talk for another day, but it's fair to say there's already a little something extra between the two expansion sides. Basically, you'd be out of your mind to say that the result doesn't matter in this preseason fixture.

What to Watch For:

Orlando City Position Battles

The Lions' opening day starting XI will be decided largely over the course of the tournament. Martin Paterson and Bryan Rochez will each have a shot to earn the starting striker role, and Tyler Turner and Rafael Ramos are still fighting for the right back job. The left wing is still undecided as well, as is the center back position next to Aurelien Collin. Head Coach Adrian Heath will want results to be sure, but he'll likely try out a few different lineups to give guys a chance to win a spot.

Brek Shea at LB

The Texan is in no danger of being dropped from the squad, but his trial at left back officially starts on Saturday. A poor outing could mean a very quick end to the "Brek Shea at fullback" experiment, especially with veteran Luke Boden waiting in the wings.

He'll definitely need to avoid any major defensive gaffes, but it's also important to see how he works with whoever starts on the left wing. Heath's offense calls for overlapping runs down the sideline, so it will be important to watch how comfortable Shea looks getting forward.

Kaká and Kevin Molino Chemistry

You've probably heard the rumors. Well, they're true. Kaká and Molino look like they've been playing together for years.

This will be their toughest competition together to date though, so we'll see if it continues. From a tactics stand point, keep an eye on which one is further up the pitch. This should alternate throughout the match, with both acting as second strikers at times. Also, watch how they move interchangeably between positions. Kaká will float right on occasion, and Molino will fill in in the center. Chances are, you'll see these two combine for at least a goal or two in this tournament.

Where's NYCFC at?

This will be most Orlando City fans’ first chance to see our fellow expansion side in action. How will David Villa and Mix Diskerud play together? The Man City Jrs. have certainly had their issues this off-season, but it would be tough to argue they haven’t assembled some pretty respectable talent on the pitch. New York has been starting Villa up top and Mix in the middle of their 4-4-2 formation. Orlando fans shouldn’t underestimate Coach Jason Kreis. He won an MLS Cup with Real Salt Lake, and has a reputation as a studied tactician. The veteran MLS coach should provide a major tactical challenge for Adrian Heath.

Amobi Okugo vs. Mix Diskerud

Not much to say here. Our top defensive midfielder against their top attacking mid; two guys with aspirations to represent the U.S. in World Cup 2018. This will be the battle to watch on Saturday. The match will be a great test to see if Amobi is ready to step up as a leader for Orlando City.

For Orlando fans who aren't able to make the trip to Charleston, the Battery will be streaming every match of the tournament live on their YouTube Channel. TML will be at the match providing live updates and post-match coverage.


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