Orlando City vs. FC Cincinnati: Three Keys to Victory



This week Orlando City is hosting FC Cincinnati at Exploria Stadium Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Let’s have a repeat of the atmosphere from the season opener, when so many of you filled the stadium. Orlando City is going to need the help since some of the same challenges they faced against the New York Red Bulls will be found against FC Cincinnati.

Here are the things that the Lions need to do to secure three points against the Orange and Blue this weekend.

Mess with the Press

I don’t mean the club should give Michael Citro a hard time in the press box, but rather the Lions need to be more effective against another team that likes to press. Orlando City struggled to break through the Red Bulls press last week. It wasn’t surprising given that crisp, accurate passing is needed to do so, and these players don’t have enough time together yet to have that on a consistent basis.

Still, something needs to be done. Orlando City had more success when sending the long ball and forcing New York to build more out of the back. The Lions were able to intercept the ball and finally get forward. Both Robin Jansson and Pedro Gallese are good at this. I also suspect that César Araújo will return to form after his less than usual great performance last week.

If Orlando City’s players can get on the same page when it comes to passing to their teammates, that will break Cincinnati’s press and allow the Lions more chances on offense. If you don’t get any shots on goal — or even shots — it is really hard to win a match. Once chances are created, finishing is a must.

Finish the Chances

Last week, Orlando City only managed six shots, with only one on target, which was Facundo Torres’ penalty kick. It was enough to win the match, but most of the time it won’t be. Once the Lions have gotten into the offense, they will need to do what was done effectively in the preseason — actually score some goals.

Ercan Kara was largely missing last week, but a lot of that was not his fault. Kara needs some service and Orlando City had trouble providing it. The other five shots were not very clinical. The Lions have the talent to thread the needle when they are on their game, but not the familiarity. If the time needed for that familiarity isn’t there yet, a little bit of luck can suffice. Accidently making the right run for a pass is just as effective as doing it on purpose and can put a player in prime goal-scoring position. Given the limited number of chances last week, if Kara, Torres, or any other player gets that lucky pass, he needs to put it in the back of the net.

Run it Back but Better

Orlando City kept a clean sheet last week, due in big part to some key saves from Gallese, but there were also some key defensive plays from the likes of Jansson, Ivan Angulo, and Luca Petrasso, among others who were also a factor. To be fair there were also some scary moments — see the mention of Gallese saves above — that might have doomed the Lions at home.

FC Cincinnati has some very good attacking players in Brenner, Sergio Santos, and Brandon Vazquez up top and Luciano Acosta in the attacking midfield. Shutting down opportunities for these players is essential to Orlando City’s game plan. That will come down to the play of the back line and Araújo.

So, let’s have the Lions do all of that bending and not breaking again, but perhaps with fewer squeaky-bum-inducing moments. Having shown themselves they can play defense against a relentless team like the Red Bulls, belief will be there. First match jitters will also be gone. Put it all together with the lessons learned against New York and a week of training to stay stingy on defense.

That is what I will be looking for as the Lions defend Exploria Stadium. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.


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