As the weekend approaches we welcome in Logan Oliver from Orlando City SC blog The Mane Land to help preview our game on Saturday.
BDS: With so much promise and expectations going into this season for the Lions, what has happened here to see things go so wrong? Was it poor chemistry in the locker room? Injuries? Bad coaching?
TML: All of the above. It was always going to take so many new players to mesh (and Orlando has brought in 16 this year) and that was compounded with injuries to key players for the majority of the season. With most of the back line injured and unable to build chemistry together, some of the other major pieces not quite fitting in like Justin Meram, and some potential shortcomings on the coaching side, things just fell apart. Having some major pieces leave for international duty regularly has hurt, too, but Orlando chose to play on international weekends so there can’t be too much complaint there though losing Yoshimar Yotun for the World Cup was a major blow.
BDS: With just two wins in their last 20 games, are Orlando fans just wanting this season to be done with already? What can the Lions do to upset Dallas this weekend?
TML: This season has been all but written off by most fans. Even though the Lions have yet to be mathematically eliminated, there’s been little to no hope that the club will turn things around this season. With the coaching transition, so much of the process has been set back to square one again.
New Head Coach James O’Connor has improved the defensive solidity of the side and the club’s first-choice defensive unit is finally healthy and playing together. With Carlos Ascues and Uri Rosell manning the defensive midfield, turnovers have decreased and though the side hasn’t been pushing forward there’s a higher than likely chance that Orlando can at least keep the score manageable. Getting a result all comes down to execution on the offensive end from players like Dom Dwyer, Sacha Kljestan, and Yoshi Yotun. Unfortunately that has been lacking in recent weeks.
BDS: Despite the results as of late, who has been a bright spot for this team in the final months of the season?
TML: Yoshimar Yotun is still one of the best players in the league and playing like it. Jonathan Spector recently returned from a bout of lengthy injuries and has been providing his usual fight and fire on the back line. The aforementioned Ascues has been fantastic since his addition after the end of the summer transfer window in midfield.
Quite a bit of the squad is questionable. Amro Tarek (hamstring), Cristian Higuita (calf), Uri Rosell (ankle), Cam Lindley (infection), Richie Laryea (hamstring), Jose Villarreal (ankle), Adam Grinwis (infection)
Young starlet Pierre Da Silva is likely out with a knee injury.
Lineup (4-2-3-1): Adam Grinwis; Scott Sutter, Jonathan Spector, Lamine Sane, Mohamed El-Munir; Uri Rosell, Carlos Ascues; Will Johnson, Sacha Kljestan, Yoshimar Yotun; Dom Dwyer