The Union head into the third week of MLS action looking for their first win of 2017. They will try to do so at Orlando City. The newly built Orlando City Stadium is a great new soccer specific stadium, equipped with its own Dortmund like wall for supporters to man. Orlando had the week off last week due to bad weather in New England; they will be raring to go, even without Kaka. Can the Union find their first 3 points of 2017 at Orlando?
"Saturday there are no excuses because we are at home…everybody is hungry." -Antonio Nocerino pic.twitter.com/2s8C6NSH0V
— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) March 16, 2017
Orlando started hot one opening weekend with a 1-0 win vs NYCFC. They have had 14 days off due to the postponed match at New England. The extra time to prepare has them ready to fight the Union. Orlando has a lot of pressure on them this season. After two seasons of missing the playoffs, OCSC needs to show improvement. Their sparkling new stadium deserves a strong team. The whole Orlando side including coach Jason Kreis are on the hot seat, and that seat is getting hotter.
— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) March 5, 2017
Above is how Orlando City lined up for their season opener. Little did they know, their leader Kaka would only feature for a portion of the game. Kaka left with a hamstring injury early in the first half. His replacement, Giles Barnes, came in and did a great job out wide for Orlando. For this coming match, Orlando will likely roll out the same starting 11 only with Barnes instead of Kaka. Orlando is a scary team with a lot of pace, and goal scoring ability.
— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) March 8, 2017
As you can see by the Cyle Larin goal above, Orlando can hit hard when defenses loses track of their man marks. Larin is a threat inside the box. With Barnes, Rivas and Garcia adding quality pace and attacking prowess Orlando’s attack is scary. How can the Union defend them.
On Saturday, we had to break the link Bradley provides between their midfield and attack.
— PhilaUnion (@PhilaUnion) March 16, 2017
Last game, the Union did well to stop Toronto’s play maker Michael Bradley. At times they had three players around him to take him out of the game. Orlando doesn’t have a player like Bradley, but they do have a great offensive playmaker in Larin. The Union will need to take the same approach to Larin as they did Bradley; get bodies around him, so he can’t get on the ball. The Union need to make Orlando’s other offensive players beat them. Now let’s look at Orlando’s defense
OSCS’ new back line did well stopping NYCFC in their first match. They look decent, but had to put out a lot of fires due to bad play from their defensive midfielders. Nocerino and Servando were ghosts in Orlando’s first game. There was so much space for David Villa to attack the defense due to the gap between the defense and the D-mids. The Union will look to attack that space to best Orlando.
We controlled the ball over 60% of the time in our attacking half against Toronto.
— PhilaUnion (@PhilaUnion) March 17, 2017
The Union did a great job of dictating the flow of play agaisnt Toronto. The Union’s ability to hold the ball, and look for the right pass to get a chance will help them greatly against Orlando. However Philly will look to attack a different part of the field against Orlando. As you can see above, the Union moved the ball from side to side to find a way through Toronto’s muddled five-man midfield. This tactic worked well, and helped dictate possession. While Philadelphia can do this against Orlando, they should find more success in the middle of the field. If the Unions wingers can tuck in, and the Union central players (Bedoya, Medunjanin and Jones) have space to be on the ball in the middle, then they should find opportunities.
75' | All square again thanks to CJ. 2-2. #DOOP
— PhilaUnion (@PhilaUnion) March 11, 2017
A key part of this type of play will depend on CJ Sapong’s hold up play, and also his ability to run off of defenders. When the Union have possession they will need CJ to do both effectively. His hold up play will allow others to get into the attack if they aren’t already. The strikers running off defenders can create good chances like the one he had in the video above. If the Union run effectively off the ball, and have their play makers on the ball to find the runs the Union will have oppertunities to win this game!
— PhilaUnion (@PhilaUnion) March 16, 2017
This young series has seen both teams have success. The Union have never won in Orlando, and the only player to score for Philly in Orlando is Ken Tribbett. The Union will need to step up to find the win. The blueprint is in place, now it’s time to see if the Union can capitalize on Orlando’s type of play. Who knows maybe we’ll even see another one of these?
— Remo (@RemoHartnet) April 9, 2016
I predicted that the Union would win this match before the season, and I agree whole-heartedly with my prediction today! The Union’s ability to hold the ball and find the open man and opportunity, agaisnt Orlando’s weak defensive midfield, and newly made back line makes me think the Union will come out on top. Yes Orlando has had a good amount of time off to prepare, but this Union team looks determined to show themselves and the league that they are contenders this year! Here’s my projected lineup: and bench players:
Starting XI: Blake; Fabinho, Marquez, Onyewu, Rosenberry; Medunjanin, Jones; Pontius, Herbers, Bedoya; Sapong.
Bench: McCarthy, Elliot, Gaddis, Creavalle, Fafa, Ilsinho, Davies.
Be sure to check Philly Sports Network on Twitter during the game for snarky/insightful tweets. Also come back to Philly Sports Network for reaction, and a look others did in week three MLS action.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports