Orlando City heads north to take on New York City FC this Sunday at Red Bull Arena. That is a much better destination than Yankee Stadium. Points are at a premium as Orlando City heads into the final three regular-season matches. A month ago, NYCFC was on a slide, but following a 2-0 victory over Atlas in the Campeones Cup the Pigeons have played much better. What do the Lions need to do to earn three points on the road?
Take the Torres Train
Facundo Torres has four goals in the last five matches across all competitions. He is in great form as Orlando City returns from the international break, and the Lions need that to continue. If he can once again find the back of the net, or help a teammate do so, it might be all Orlando City needs to pull out the victory.
Standing in his way is a decent defense consisting of Maxime Chanot, Alexander Callens, Thiago Martins, and Anton Tinnerholm. If he gets past those players Sean Johnson awaits him in goal. Johnson is quite a good MLS keeper. Despite that, I do remain confident in Torres’ ability to impact the scoreboard.
Mark out Morales
Maxi Moralez has hurt Orlando City in the past. He scores goals, provides assists, and generally has Orlando City’s number. The defense will need to take him out of the match as much as possible without allowing someone else to pick up the slack. Of course, Moralez tends to work both inside and outside the box in creating for NYCFC, and so Orlando City needs a defensive midfielder to help the back line do the job.
César Araújo might be just the guy to do it. Araújo has easily been Orlando City’s best acquisition this season, and has effectively shut down other formidable players this season. If Araújo can put Moralez in his pocket and limited his impact, it will go a long way towards securing points on the road.
Defend Set Pieces
New York City FC scores goals off of set pieces, and Callens has been a threat for the Pigeons on those plays. Set piece defense hasn’t always been a strong suit for Orlando City, but the Lions will need to be ready for it against he Pigeons. Orlando City should have everyone back and healthy following the international break, and Pedro Gallese is as good a keeper as there is in MLS.
If Orlando City can get a decent shift from either Rodrigo Schlegel or Robin Jansson — whichever is paired with Antônio Carlos in central defense — that will help. Fullbacks João Moutinho and Ruan will need to do their parts as well, as will everyone else. Clearing the ball out first time to limit second chances will also be key. How well Orlando City does inside the 18-yard box on defense, and in particular on set pieces, can take away opportunities for NYCFC to score goals.
Those are the things I’ll be looking for this Sunday. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Vamos Orlando!