Following Wilmer Cabrera’s departure as head coach of the Houston Dynamo it’s been tough for interim manager Davy Arnaud to get results. After a draw and then two losses in his first three matches, Arnaud picked up his first win which was immediately followed up with a loss. However, the team’s form has continued to improve throughout this time even though the club missed out on potential points in their loss to the Vancouver Whitecaps last weekend. They’ll get their chance to bounce back today with Orlando City SC coming to town. We wanted to get to know a little bit about out purple clad opponents so we spoke with Ben Miller at The Mane Land to get some insight about what we should expect to see tonight.
Dynamo Theory: Sitting in 10th place in the Eastern Conference just four points back of the playoff line, what have been some of the issues facing Orlando City that has prevented them from being in a playoff position and what is needed to move up?
The Mane Land: The biggest issue for the team has been an inability to score goals. The Lions are much improved from the team last year that set the record for goals conceded but over the summer months especially the team has not found it easy to put the ball in the back of the net. That’s meant a lot of 1 goal losses and low scoring draws that would put OCSC in a very different current situation if the attack hadn’t been stunted for large portions of the year.
DT: How would you describe James O’Connor’s style of play for Orlando and what do you think needs to happen for your side to come away with three points at BBVA Stadium?
TML: James O’Connor definitely values possession. He’s put an emphasis on Orlando holding onto the ball, moving it and probing especially in wide areas. The fullbacks have been a huge area of emphasis for the team this year, and a lot of what Orlando has done well is a result of strong fullback play. If OCSC is going to grab three points the team cannot afford to concede early, something else that has been a theme in a lot of Orlando games this year. They also need to avoid a second half dip that has seen the team drop points in a number of recent meetings. Against Portland, Minnesota, and LAFC the Lions were unable to hold onto a second half lead and it cost the team valuable points
DT: Apart from the larger names, who are some players for Dynamo fans to keep an eye on Saturday evening?
TML: Ruan has been immense for the Lions this year. He’s done it all from solid defending at the right fullback position, to starting attacks, and providing assists. He is one hundred percent someone to keep an eye on. Another is Cristian Higuita. He had a sterling game against LAFC and another strong performance against the New England Revolution. Tesho Akindele has had a renaissance in Orlando and his goals during the summer months are a big reason for the team only being four points out of the playoff picture. Those three could end up being very important in this game.
DT: What is your projected starting lineup and predicted outcome?
TML: Brian Rowe; Kyle Smith, Robin Jansson, Lamine Sane, Ruan; Cristian Higuita, Sebas Mendez; Nani, Mauricio Pereyra, Tesho Akindele; Dom Dwyer.
I have to be the optimist here and say that Orlando gets a 2-1 win in a game where all three points are absolutely necessary
For my answers to Ben’s excellent questions please check them out here!