Today the Houston Dynamo are hoping to follow up on their 4-1 win over the Portland Timbers last weekend with a win on the road as they travel to the Sunshine State to take on Orlando City SC. The Dynamo have struggled this season as a 10 game winless streak – which was snapped with the win against the Timbers – matched a club record that was set in the 2010 season. Orlando currently occupies the bottom of the Eastern Conference and have let in a league high 66 goals.
In our preview of the match we discussed how Houston’s priorities at the moment is to win the US Open Cup next week which could impact the lineup selection, but we wanted to know more about our opponents so we spoke with Logan Oliver at the Mane Land to get his perspective on the match.
Dynamo Theory: Like the Dynamo, Orlando City SC are on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff picture. The Dynamo have found some ways to mark the season a success in the US Open Cup. What would an Orlando City supporter want to see from the club to take as a small win going into the offseason? It could be player development or it could be a lot of wins down the stretch.
The Mane Land: Even small improvements would be welcome at this point. James O’Connor has given minutes to younger players like Pierre Da Silva, who had just one MLS minute before O’Connor’s arrival and now has 49 more under his belt. There has been some tinkering with lineups and personnel but not much to show for it. Results are secondary now, though a win or two would definitely boost morale around Orlando. If the last match against the Chicago Fire is any indication, the entire team seems to be in a holding pattern waiting for 2019.
DT: Orlando City have let in a league high 66 goals. What has been the primary reason for allowing that many goals?
TML: Shuffling and reshuffling of the back line is a large part of it. With various injuries, international call-ups, and O’Connor trying different things it’s rare the same lineup takes the field two matches in a row. Couple that with plenty of errors from Joe Bendik and whichever defenders are in front of him and you have the current state of the Orlando City back line. The midfield proving incapable of holding onto the ball just piles on to all of the above.
DT: James O’Connor took the head coaching reins over the summer. The results haven’t quite gone his way, but how would you characterize the kind of soccer he’s trying to implement and is he finding success doing that?
TML: The defense and midfield are at least a little more organized and seem to be working more as a unit than they did under Jason Kreis. The defense has sat deeper and the team has attempted to break on the counter, though the roster doesn’t really have players capable of playing that style. The biggest change took place last week where O’Connor rolled out five defenders, which makes the most sense with the personnel. The fullbacks struggle defensively and there is a plethora of centerbacks in the side.
Projected Lineup: 3-5-2: Joe Bendik; Carlos Ascues, Jonathan Spector, Shane O’Neill; Scott Sutter, Uri Rosell, Yoshimar Yotun, Sacha Kljestan, Mohamed El-Munir; Dom Dwyer, Chris Mueller
Predicted Outcome: I’m going with 2-0 to Houston this weekend.
For my answers to Logan’s excellent questions, please check them out at the Mane Land!