This Saturday Orlando City will host the Chicago Fire at Exploria Stadium. Chicago will be the first club the Lions will play in the first half of Phase 2 of the revised MLS regular season. That’s about the most unwieldy way to describe the matches being played as I can think of right now. Orlando City is riding a five-match unbeaten streak (3-0-2), and will be looking for another three points at home. It’s been an interesting year, and an interesting season, so let’s take a look at what we might expect this weekend from the Lions.
Jansson and Rosell Return?
Two of Orlando City’s key defensive pieces were not in the 18 for the match against Inter Miami CF. Robin Jansson was out with a knock, and Uri Rosell needed some recovery time from starting five matches in 15 days. Despite that, the Lions were still able to have the defense push Miami out to the wings and limit the amount of chances up the middle for the Herons. I fully expect we will see both back in the lineup for the match against Chicago. If Rosell is fit, he will most likely get the start, and I’m 50/50 on whether Jansson starts or comes on in the second half, depending on his recovery. We’ll know how bad of a knock it was based on when we see him. One of the things that was missing when the two were out was how well the Lions were able to get out of their own half once Miami made some adjustments. Rosell and Jansson are two of the better long ball players on Orlando City’s roster. Even having one of them back will be helpful, but having both is better.
Rotation Could Be Back
Orlando City will be playing after a normal work week for a second week in a row. Don’t get used to it though, as the Lions will play again on the following Wednesday and then the very next Sunday. That means that even though the club has had a week since the Miami match, Óscar Pareja might mix up his starters a bit in consideration of the following week’s matches. Don’t be surprised if there’s not a first choice starting lineup, and if there is, don’t be surprised if some players are subbed off earlier than usual. It might depend on how the score looks, but both of the next two matches are on the road against Western Conference opponents, and that means a more difficult travel schedule.
Due for Goals
Since the MLS regular season has resumed, Orlando City’s top goal scorers have been Daryl Dike (3), Nani (2), Chris Mueller (2), and Benji Michel (2). However, it has been three matches since Orlando City players have scored more than one goal (Andrés Reyes’ own goal counts on the scoreboard but not for Orlando players’ stats). Expect that to change this Saturday given Orlando City is plus-six on goal differential, and Chicago is minus-seven. Teams are obviously planning for Nani, and have started to plan for Dike, but it is very hard to do that while also stopping Mueller, Mauricio Pereyra, and others. Balls don’t always hit woodwork, and Dike will only be denied so long. It finally seems that Orlando City has too many offensive options for an opposing club to shut down completely.
Those are the things I’m looking for in the upcoming match. Let me know in the comments below if you think there’s something important I forgot, or something else you’d like answered.