It was a rough weekend for the Union as they fell to NYCFC 4-2 after a few “questionable” penalty decisions. Now, the Union travel to the Sunshine State to take on an Orlando City team who are just points away from playoff contention. The boys in blue haven’t seen the boys in purple yet this year, but will get pretty familiar with them this week. The Union look for a home and home sweep against Orlando City this coming week.
Orlando City’s Projected Starting XI (4-3-3): GK Brian Rowe- D Danilo Acosta, D Robin Jansson, D Lamine Sane, D Ruan- M Will Johnson, M Oriol Rosell, M Sacha Kljestan – F Nani ©, F Dom Dwyer, F Chris Mueller
Player to watch: Forward, Nani
Lineup Analysis: Orlando City is bolstered offensively this week by the return of center forward Dom Dwyer. Defender Kamal Miller is also back from international duty but because of the defensive success from their last game against Columbus, I see Orlando sticking with the same back line. Canadian midfielder Will Johnson is also back and should slot in on the left side of the three-man midfield. The Union need to keep an eye on midfielder Sacha Kljestan who is phenomenal on the ball. Kljestan has a knack for the assist, as he led the league in assists in 2017. But the key factor in the lineup is Portuguese International midfielder Nani. Nani has played with all the greats, in all the most famous leagues. The former Manchester United midfielder has eight goals in 15 appearances this season. His one on one play is flat out impressive, and his play-making skills are lethal. Ray Gaddis will be the one who most likely will have to deal with him, so he’s got to be quick on his feet. Nani has great skill on the ball, can whip in a beautiful cross, and has the ability to unleash a shot from deep. The Union have to be cautious whenever he has the ball because he can do a lot of damage quickly. Dom Dwyer has returned after his wife (United States’ Women’s National team member Sydney Leroux) gave birth to their second child. He has four goals in 13 matches and could be tough to handle when he has Nani on his side. The key to stopping this lineup begins and ends with Nani.
Union’s Projected Starting XI (4-1-2-1-2): GK Matt Freese- D Kai Wagner, D Auston Trusty, D Jack Elliott, Raymon Gaddis- M Haris Medunjanin, M Jamiro Monteiro, M Alejandro Bedoya ©, M Brendan Aaronson- F Kacper Przybylko, F Fafa Picault
Player to Watch: Forward, Fafa Picault
Lineup Analysis: It was a rough game to watch against New York City FC, but I don’t see many changes to the Union lineup for this week’s contest. The Union didn’t play horribly, two very weak penalty calls in my opinion were the deciding factors in that match. Jim Curtin is a creature of habit. He decided to have Fafa Picault start, and he ended up scoring. When Curtin sees that form, I don’t think he likes to change it. Due to Ilsinho’s laceration, I don’t think he’ll be in the starting lineup. This is a normal sized field so the Union should deploy their regular starting lineup. From what I saw with Marco Fabian, I don’t expect him in the starting lineup either. He can be the new spark off the bench if Ilsinho is out, so expect Fabian to play a bench role while Brendan Aaronson starts.
Last Contest between the clubs: It was a disappointing game in September when these two teams last met in the land of Mickey Mouse. After a beautiful strike from outside the box from Fafa Picault in the 88th minute, Orlando’s Scott Sutter tied the game in stoppage time to give Orlando a point at home. The Union’s offense was active as Corey Burke and Fafa Picault both had goals in the game. This is a much different Orlando City team this year, as the Union didn’t have to deal with Nani last season. Dom Dwyer headed in a goal last year off a set piece, as the Union will have to keep an eye on Dwyer in the box at all times.
Match Preview: As mentioned earlier, this is a much different Orlando City team this year. A whole new back line and a new superstar player. It’s going to be a hot one in Orlando Wednesday, and there may even be a weather delay as there are possibilities of thunderstorms that night. However on the pitch, expect Nani to work the Union’s right side. Go one on one with Gaddis, whip in a lot of dangerous balls to Dwyer, test Matt Freese in net, he’s going to do it all. I expect the Union to withdraw a lot of pressure from possession and get on a few breaks with Fafa Picault and Pryzbylko in the first half. I see it being 0-0 at half, but the game will certainly open up in the second half. I can see the Union sneaking two goals in but giving up one as well. I believe the Union will be up in stoppage time 2-1 having to weather the storm for the final minutes, and holding on for the win. I believe the goals will come from Jamiro Monteiro and Sergio Santos of the Union, and one from Nani of Orlando City.
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Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports