After defeating the Lions in Harrison in May, the Red Bulls now make the away trip to Orlando, and we brought back Ben Miller from sibling site The Mane Land to find out what to expect from tonight’s opponents:
Orlando will be better armed than they were against the Red Bulls in May, with Nani and Daryl Dike both available. What sort of form have these players been in and should we expect them to be dangerous on Saturday?
Nani in particular has been on a tear. In the three games since the international break he has three goals and three assists and almost singlehandedly willed Orlando to a comeback win on the road against Inter Miami. Dike has also been playing well since returning from his loan at Barnsley, with two goals in the three matches he has played, although he was more subdued against Miami last Friday after terrorizing the Earthquakes several days earlier. The Lions should definitely carry more threat than they did the last time these two teams played, and should be able to field Oscar Pareja’s first choice when it comes to attacking players.
On the other end of things, which players will Orlando be missing in this mid-summer crunch of internationals and injuries?
Starting goalkeeper Pedro Gallese and midfielder Sebas Mendez are with Peru and Ecuador respectively at Copa America, so they aren’t available. Alexandre Pato is still working his way back after having surgery on his knee, and fullback Ruan is also out with a lower body injury. Not sure whether we’ll see Joao Moutinho or not. He isn’t listed on the injury report but didn’t travel to Miami last Friday either, so his availability is up in the air. If he can go it’ll be a big boost for OCSC, but we’ll have to wait and see.
If Orlando reverses the result earlier in the season and beats the Red Bulls on Saturday, how will they do it? Which parts of the team and their performance will have to be better than in May?
The defending is going to have to be better. Orlando was uncharacteristically sloppy and mistake-prone defensively in that game, and will definitely need to clean things up in that area compared to the last time out. If Moutinho isn’t able to play, Michael Halliday seems to be getting more and more comfortable in his first professional season, and he’ll need to continue that trend. He was at fault for the first goal against NYRB back in May, but has come on strong since then. On the other end of the field the Lions need to be more clinical in front of goal. They could have stolen a late point from the game in May had Silvester van der Water not blazed over with a great late chance in the box and Orlando can’t afford to let those kinds of chances go to waste.
Lineup projection: Brandon Austin; Kyle Smith, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, Michael Halliday; Junior Urso, Andres Perea, Mauricio Pereyra; Chris Mueller, Nani, Daryl Dike.
Score prediction: 2-1 Orlando. Dike and Chris Mueller with the goals for Orlando as the home crowd helps the Lions edge out a tough Red Bulls side.