We talked with Ben over at The Mane Land to find out a bit more about the Colorado Rapids’ Eastern Conference opponent this weekend. Here’s what he had to say about Orlando City SC’s season so far, who to watch, and how he thinks it will all go down.
1. Orlando hasn’t gotten to a great start—what does the club need to do to get on track for 2019?
It’s funny, even though the team only has one win, I would say that things have largely been positive. The team has played pretty well for the most part (aside from a poor performance in a 3-1 loss to Montreal) but has been repeatedly dogged by slow starts and silly mistakes.
That’s really what needs to change for the Lions in order for results to begin mirroring the play on the field—laser focus from the opening whistle, as well as being more clinical in front of goal. Last week, in particular, Orlando created plenty of chances but an inability to convert them led to a 2-1 loss, and that’s been a recurring theme throughout the year.
2. There was a lot of talk about Nani coming to OCSC in the off-season. What have been your impressions of him so far?
Thus far I’ve been very pleased with what I’ve seen from him. While he hasn’t necessarily “set the league on fire” a la some other big name DP signings in recent seasons, he’s still certainly made an impact on the field. While he has yet to score, Nani has 3 assists in 5 games (which is good for most on the team), and has played two key passes that have directly led to a pair of other goals.
Beyond that though, his composure and skill on the ball, vision, and decision-making have definitely been on display. He most likely isn’t going to blow by people all the time the way he did back in the Premier League, but to this point I think he’s done very well.
3. What do the Rapids need to do to break down OCSC and get a win this weekend?
If I could put my finger on one specific thing that the Lions have struggled to deal with this weekend, it’s set pieces. While the team hasn’t conceded an overwhelming number of goals from them, they have simply never really looked comfortable when defending free kicks, corner kicks, or even crosses into the box at times.
I’m not sure whether this is due to lapses in concentration or confusion about who’s marking who but if the Rapids get a lot of opportunities from set pieces then the Lions might be in trouble. Also if Colorado comes out well at the beginning of the game and presses early, they may very well bag an early goal because there’s nothing Orlando loves more than conceding at the beginning of a game.
Predicted lineup: Brian Rowe; João Moutinho, Kamal Miller, Shane O’Neill, Lamine Sane, Ruan; Sebas Mendez, Sacha Kljestan, Chris Mueller; Nani, Dom Dwyer
Predicted scoreline: 2-1 Orlando. I have to play the optimist here.