Matchday 13: Orlando City SC
Matchday 13 Preview: Orlando City
A new and improved FC Cincinnati has finally figured everything out and now they're going to go undefeated the rest of the year starting first with the faulting Orlando City. Or something. That's how it feels anyway. Positive energy abounds in Milford as the team looks to have a full week under interim head coach Yoann Damet. Their foe? A struggling Orlando side ripe for the picking.
FC Cincinnati's form probably just starts and stops with last week. Going into the match against Montreal they had failed to score, and therefore failed to win, their previous four matches. Orlando is right in the middle of a rough patch themselves, having their last five games look like a win, a draw, and three losses. It should be pointed out though that their last match, against the Seattle Sounders, featured a heavily rotated squad in preparation for the match this Sunday against FC Cincinnati.
The big story line going into this match is the return of James O'Conner to FC Cincinnati's fans' lives. JOC spent years tormenting FCC on the field, and off the field. From melting shoes to tetanus shots, O'Conner was there to annoy Cincinnati in whatever way he could. He also was one of the few managers who could successfully manage against Cincinnati. After my blog post got him a job in MLS, he has been.... poor. Orlando in general has been a pretty rough organization since their first year, having brought in a number of big players who rarely panned out post Kaka in year 1.
For FC Cincinnati, we'll find out how much a fluke last week really was. Of note was the lineup decisions. Both Kenny Saief and Fenando Adi failed to make an appearance in the first game under Damet. Adi was about to be subbed in but a head injury to Kekuta Manneh. Saief wasn't even in the 18. Other noteables were Hoyte playing centerback and 18 year old Frankie Amaya. Damet appeared to be playing a 4-3-3 with Ulloa being the defensive midfielder and allowing Bertone and Amaya to run forward with the attack, even switching sides at different moments in the game. Someone should have suggested running this system earlier....
Players You Should Know or Might Know
If a player goes by one name, they're probably good. If you're a Manchester United fan, Nani is very familiar to you. The Portuguese star played over 150 times for Man U, while also making stops at Sporting in Portugal and one time FC Cincinnati friendly opponent Valencia. In fact, Nani skipped that friendly, so if you wanted a reason to not like him, that'll work. For Orlando, he's been dangerous. Five goals and an assist on the year solidifies his position as the best player on this team. He was also rested in Orlando's last match, so expect him to go the full 90.
Very similar to Benny Falhaber in terms of a player who should have had more of a chance to play with the US Men's National Team. Kljestan in his prime was one of the best players in MLS, a fantastic passer of the ball, and someone you could build a team around. New York Red Bulls did, and they turned into a juggernaut. While he did end his time with the USMNT with a solid 52 caps, he certainly could have added more. nowadays he's an above average player for Orlando who can punish sloppy play.
Husband of one time US Women's National Team starlet Sydney Leroux. Interestingly enough Dom was born in England before becoming an American citizen and playing for the USMNT, Sydney was born in Canada and did the same for the women's team. Dom was the Danni Konig of Orlando, pulling them through USL as their leading goal scorer. Unlike Konig, Dom got a shot in MLS and has been a well above average striker. For a time in Sporting Kansas City, he looked like the future of the USMNT. Then he was traded back to Orlando. Both Leroux and Dwyer failed to live up to the hype. He does have three goals this year.
Given how Damet lined up the team last week, I would expect something very similar. I think Saief gets a shot outside on the wings, Adi gets his start, and Amaya is back in the midfield after a stellar performance. My only question is at center back. I wouldn’t mind seeing Hoyte there again, it seemed to work well. But Hagglund could easily be plugged in there.
Out - MID - Jimmy McLaughlin (right ACL surgery)
Questionable - MID - Corben Bone (left shoulder injury)
Questionable - DEF - Alvas Powell (right ankle injury)
Questionable - DEF, Carlos Ascues (hamstring injury)
Questionable - FWD, Nani (calf injury)
I think this ends up being a wild one. 2-2 draw and both sides leave feeling better about themselves than they did when they went in. With JOC on the sidelines, let’s say there is a controversial ending to this one, a late goal dramatic.