The Black-and-Red will face Orlando City SC for the third time this season and the third time ever. In two matchups earlier this season, one on the road and one at home, United was able to prevail.
Since their last meeting, United has held it’s position atop of the tables while Orlando has put together some wins to move up to fourth place in the Conference. Orlando has not lost in their last four trips out on the field, winning two and drawing the other two matches. The Black-and-Red finally had their home streak ended, 16 MLS games and 20 overall by Toronto last weekend.
While D.C. is coming off a rest from a congested stretch in their schedule, but to finish the month of June they’ll be playing five games in 14 days starting with Orlando.
While the nightmare named Giovinco left town with Toronto, D.C. is fully aware of the type of fire power that Orlando possesses. Kaka and rookie Cyle Larin are in a groove right now, leading Orlando with 11 goals combined. The last time these two teams played, Orlando’s skill on the ball was evident and went a long way into breaking United’s defense down. One of the main reasons for the Black-and-Red getting the most recent victory was the job Perry Kitchen did on Kaka, pressuring him and making him uncomfortable all game long.
With Orlando’s best playmaker not getting his regular number of touches, it heavily impacted their lack of productivity in the attacking third which played into United’s hands.
That game was in D.C. and this time it’s a home game for Orlando, in the first matchup this season (which was in Florida), Orlando was a much different team. They were aggressive and stretched DC’s defense early and often throughout the entire match. United’s saving grace was Bill Hamid as their keeper, he kept the sheet clean long enough for Luis Silva to come off the bench and nail a free kick to give D.C. the 1-0 victory.
Just as much as the Kitchen-Kaka matchup was important, it’s imperative that Kofi Opare replicate his job on Larin from the last meeting. Larin is a physical specimen that only Kofi seemed to be able to deal with. The lone time he was not marked by Kofi resulted in Orlando’s lone goal of the two meetings.
It’s imperative that D.C. get off to a quick start as they did against Toronto, they onus is on them to not only do that but keep attacking for the full 90 minutes. To this point in the season, the Black-and-Red have yet to put a full 90 minutes of high quality football together. What is clear is that United is a totally different team in the attacking third when Fabian Espindola is on the field. Evident by his play-making and the attention he commands up front, so Orlando will have to account for him.
With two contrasting styles, whichever team is able to control the tempo should be able to walk away with the result. Although, Orlando did everything right and on their terms in the first match and lost 1-0.
Perry Kitchen and Bill Hamid were named to the United States National team provisional roster for the Gold Cup that starts next month, Brek Shea was also selected. The final 23 man roster will be named on June 23.