Each week, we explore the ever-expanding narrative in the history of Orlando City Soccer Club. Each fan, player, coach, and front office employee has grown the story engrained in the heart and soul of the purple and gold badge, and each time the club takes the field, the story grows.
NYCFC took advantage of a disorganized, shorted, hurt team two weeks ago. Stupid unforced errors hobbled a team that could not afford errors on any field, baseball diamond or not. Sacha Kljestan’s debute for the club was mediocre at best and hindered by the island he was left on when separated from the likes of Justin Meram and Chris Mueller. The result was a cathartic attack and a tired defense, leading to errors in the midfield and defensive thirds. This was further damaged by Jonathan Spector’s concussion exit at halftime, with Sane also making his premiere appearance and holding his line well for a first outing. Josue Coleman’s late substitution in purple might have been the only ray of hope in an otherwise, with the young DP showing several minutes of promising speed, but too little too late to secure a result at Yankee Stadium.
That story has been written, blogged, and beaten with a baseball bat over the past fourteen days as the Lions limped back to Orlando to lick their wounds. Now, having only sent Yoshi Yotun and Justin Meram out on international duty, the Lions have healed, regrouped, and renewed their drive to get three points. Both players returned from duty health as well, allowing fans to collectively release a sigh of relief. Dom Dwyer has returned to a clean bill of health and his inclusion in this week’s side has been heavily hinted at through a lot of club advertising this week, allowing for the club to return to full strength with their star striker leading them onto the pitch once again. Sane will step in to fill Jonathan Spector’s role as the captain recovers from his concussion.
To say Jason Kreis’ seat at Orlando City Stadium will be hot is an understatement. The Lions coach has been clear in his emotional resolve, but results have none the less eluded him. Coming out of the international break, all signs indicate the Kreis will have his full attacking strength, thanks to Dom Dwyer and Josue Coleman’s return to full team activities. With New York Red Bulls coming into town with some old friends, Orlando has a big test ahead. Can this rebuilt club finally secure a win against a tough, motivated team with a mix of proven veteran talent and strong young players, or will they let more points drop? These are the question fans will be asking as they head to Orlando City stadium today.
New York comes into Orlando with three former Lions in tow, two of which were sent north just months ago in exchange for Sacha Kljestan. Expect Carlos Rivas and Tommy Redding to puff their chests and give extra effort in their returns to Orlando. The same goes for Sacha Kljestan, who has not been settle about the bitterness and resolve he has against the Red Bulls, so expect a passionate game from him. With Tyler Adam’s having played the full ninety minutes against Paraguay earlier in the week, expect his contribution to be limited this week, allowing for a chink in the Red Bull’s defensive lineup. Red Bulls also must travel to Mexico for a midweek CONCACAF Champions League semi-final leg, so player resting will be a factor in this match. Some have even asserted the Bradley Wright-Phillips will not see the pitch in an effort to save him for the trip to Mexico.
Orlando has their best chance of the season to finally generate plays and come away with a result. A healthy, rested team against a club with a lot of tactics on the
brain and tired players returning to training offers a good opportunity for Jason Kreis and his hand-picked squad to win three points. Without a doubt, Kreis’ side will also be playing with an extra blast of passion in honor of late Iron Lion Firm capo and founding supporter, Miguel Vasquez, who was killed in a tragic accident last weekend. This piece of the Orlando City story, and undoubtedly the Lion’s match today, are dedicated to him. Please donate to support his family here.