The Philadelphia Union go south Saturday night to take on Orlando City SC. The home team is flying high after a 1-0 win at home against NYCFC, with a goal from forward Cyle Larin. The young forward has a large burden on his shoulders with an injury early last game to Kaka. Winger Giles Barnes came on for Kaka in that last game, and proved to be effective, getting the assist for the winning goal. After a weeks break, Orlando will need to get back up to speed, playing against a Union team with 2 back-to-back draws. Philadelphia will have felt disappointed with those results, however, putting in dominant performances. Orlando have one weapon, however, that can neutralize the Union game-plan. The brand new Orlando stadium, and its energetic fans, produced such a terrific atmosphere two weeks ago, and, given the same support, can disrupt the Union as well. The Orlando backline stood strong against David Villa and NYCFC, it will take something special to break down this team and produce scoring opportunities.
The Union will be without its forward, Jay Simpson, after picking up a rib injury last week in Chester. Despite that injury CJ Sapong came in with good effect to tie the score in the 72nd minute. The Union seem to have settled with one lineup. After several big offseason transactions the Union have found an identity immediately. Harris Medunjanin and Derrick Jones were a revelation in the midfield, strengthening arguably the weakest part of the Union’s roster. Meanwhile star player Alejandro Bedoya was given the captains armband, and #10 position, allowing him to fully dictate the Union’s attack in the final third. Despite giving up 2 goals last game, the Union defense was strong. A penalty and a quick restart were the influential moments for Toronto, each coming against the run of play. With Andre Blake holding down the Union goal, we can expect a solid defensive performance from the Union.
Jim Curtin isn’t one to play out a 0-0 draw, season opener notwithstanding. This game is looking likely to be a 1-1 or 0-0 draw, with both defenses showing well in the past 2 weeks. But Curtin won’t drop back just because he is on the road. The game could open up for Orlando should the Union get too stretched on the attack. And with the pace of Cyle Larin, Carlos Rivas and Giles Barnes up top, the Union must be wary of sending too many men forward. Oguchi Onyewu doesn’t have the legs he once did, meaning the Union must drop off in front of its own box to defend, hoping the size of Onyewu and Richie Marquez will be enough to smother Larin in the box.