Orlando City

Orlando City at Minnesota United: Three Keys to Victory

What do the Lions need to do against Minnesota United to bring home all three points this Saturday?



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City is on the road to take on former Lions gaffer Adrian Heath and Minnesota United. Given there’s no one left from Heath’s squads on Orlando City’s roster other than backup keeper Mason Stajduhar, it shouldn’t be a big deal for the Lions. Heath may or may not feel differently, but there are bigger concerns for Orlando City.

Here are the things that the Lions need to do to secure three points on the road against Minnesota United this weekend at Allianz Field.

Just Tap It In

It feels a little like the part in Happy Gilmore when Happy couldn’t sink a putt in that Orlando City cannot seem to get the ball to go in the net. Why don’t you want to go home? I am, of course, talking about finishing chances. So far this season, Orlando City has scored five goals on 71 shots, with 23 of them on target. The Lions are scoring on 7% of shots taken and converting 21.7% of the shots on target. 

In comparison, Minnesota has scored seven goals on 58 shots with 17 of them on target, meaning the Loons are scoring on 12% of shots taken and converting 29.4% of their shots on target. It’s not surprising that Minnesota is creating fewer chances given how defensive minded the team is.

What isn’t great is Orlando City’s conversion rate. If the Lions converted at the same rate as Minnesota, the club would have 8.5 goals. Even rounding down to eight goals is three more than the Lions currently have. Three goals potentially means converting losses to draws, and draws to wins.

Additionally, Orlando City has scored all five goals inside 18 yards. I’m not saying to never take a shot from outside the box, but the limited success has come closer to goal. Now, the Lions need to up the conversion rate.

Possession with Purpose

We all know that Oscar Pareja likes his teams to have possession but with a purpose. That purpose, of course, is scoring goals, however, as we saw above, that has been a challenge. Minnesota United tends to sit back and absorb attacks, allowing its opponents to have possession. Orlando City should be able to maintain possession for a good part of the match but the Lions must do so with a purpose once they get inside the attacking third.

One of the first challenges for the Orlando City attack will be Kerven Arriaga. Arriaga is Minnesota United’s version of Cesar Araujo. He is not as good of a passer as Araujo, however, his defensive stats are impressive — 59.7% on duels with nine interceptions. Once the Lions get past Arriaga, they will need to deal with the center back pairing of Miguel Tapias and Michael Boxall. Orlando City will need to find space in the box while dealing with that pair if the goals are to be found against Minnesota.

Utilize the Space

Minnesota United has missed Emanuel Reynoso — the man the Loons built the team around. Robin Lod has tried to take his place in moving centrally in the attacking midfield. Unfortunately for the Loons, Lod is no Reynoso, and few are. He can’t play through defenses as well, nor can he cover as much ground. The result of that is space behind him that can be exploited, much like the Chicago Fire did in their win over Minnesota last week.

Mauricio Pereyra is certainly capable of maximizing such an opportunity as is the rest of Orlando City’s midfield. How well the Lions utilize the possession and space in the midfield will be important in getting a result

That is what I will be looking for as the Lions head to Loon-y Town to take on Inchy’s new club. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.


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