Orlando City dives back into the MLS regular season this Sunday against the Chicago Fire at Soldier Field. The last meeting between the two clubs resulted in a 3-1 win for the Lions at Exploria Stadium, but Chicago is tougher at home with a 5-1-6 record. Orlando City may have Junior Urso back and available for this match, but will that be enough?
What does Orlando City need to do to earn all three points on the road as the last part of the season unfolds?
Torres’ Scoring Boots
Facundo Torres hasn’t scored a goal since the July 1 match against the Chicago Fire. In that home match, Torres scored a brace to lead the Lions to a 3-1 victory. Since then, Torres has scored zero goals and only provided one assist. That isn’t good enough for a Designated Player that regularly starts.
Orlando City needs Torres to find his scoring boots again, and there’s no better club to do that against than Chicago. I say that partially because he scored the brace in the previous match, but also because Chicago is the team in front of him and he needs to get at least a goal. Torres has been streaky in the past, and this run of no goals has gone on long enough. Time for a scoring streak from the Uruguayan.
Defensive Midfield Might
I shudder to think about what Orlando City’s defense would be like without Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena. The duo are arguably the best defensive midfield pairing in MLS, which is good, since they will need to be the shield in front of the back line against Chicago’s attack.
Kacper Przybyłko, Brian Gutiérrez, Xherdan Shaqiri, Gastón Giménez, Kei Kamara, and Georgios Koutsias all present a challenge for any defense, and it will be up to Araujo and Cartagena to do what they normally do — stop the opposition’s attack before it can even begin. If Urso is available to spell one of the two later in the match, that will just be a bonus.
I’ll Take Thorhallsson for $500, Alex
Speaking of defense, perhaps it’s time for Dagur Dan Thorhallsson to get a start at right back in an MLS regular-season match. Oscar Pareja typically finds a starting 11 and rides them into the ground. Unfortunately, of late that means Kyle Smith has gotten the start at right back and Michael Halliday continues to deal with an injury. Let me state right here that I am a fan of Smith. He always gives 100%, is willing to play any role asked, and occasionally makes an awesome play. However, he isn’t a starter, and against the Chicago offense, he could be exploited by the opposition.
That brings me to Dagur Dan. Thorhallsson has been the go-to sub for Smith as of late, and I think he brings some speed and energy to the fullback position that Smith does not. He also is better at attacking — something Pareja likes his fullbacks to do — with the ability to take defenders on and provide decent crosses. It’s not the first time I’ve wished for this move, but if you don’t keep asking, you’ll never get what you want, and I want Dagur Dan to start at right back.
That is what I will be looking for this weekend as Orlando City looks to move up the Eastern Conference standings. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.