United quickly return to the road following Saturday’s match in Vancouver to head to Orlando, where Ben Olsen’s side takes on Orlando City SC on Wednesday night. The Black-and-Red enter the midweek matchup looking for another pivotal three points in a difficult away environment.
On Saturday, United picked up a critical road victory against the Whitecaps, while Orlando fell in their first-ever match at expansion side Minnesota United. The Black-and-Red converted a penalty kick and weathered Vancouver’s storm to earn the 1-0 victory at BC Place. Orlando, on the other hand, will be anxious to return home, as the Lions suffered another road defeat, this time 0-1 to the Loons.
Orlando’s new home, Orlando City Stadium, has provided the Lions significant home pitch advantage thus far. With fans filling the stands during the stadium’s inaugural season and a rowdy supporters’ section known as “The Wall” behind goal, Orlando have reaped the benefits of their new home’s atmosphere, jumping out to a 5-1-1 record at the stadium including five straight wins in their first five matches there.
While the Lions’ hot start had them sitting atop the East earlier in the season, Orlando’s more recent performances have resulted in Jason Kreis’ side dropping to fourth in the conference. Orlando have gone six matches without a win and have been shut out three times in that span. The Lions will surely be excited to return home on Wednesday to fight for the opportunity to get back in the win column.
For the Black-and-Red, aggression on both sides of the ball will be key to earning a positive result. A somewhat-tame attack has limited United’s scoring opportunities early this season. An unbridled Luciano Acosta (three goals, one assist) should help generate attacking creativity in Orlando, while the work rate of forward Sébastien Le Toux (two goals) adds another advantage to United’s play.
In the back, Chris Korb’s return to the starting lineup has provided another dimension of offensive play out of the back. On the other side of the back line, Taylor Kemp’s aggression on the flank translates into more counter attacking potential for the Black-and-Red. Kemp notched two superb assists in United’s Sept. 24, 2016, match against the Lions, and does well in transitioning from tackling to attacking, using his pace to carry possession into the midfield and playing provider to the wingers.
United will need to come out aggressive in Orlando in order to prevent the Lions’ midfield from taking control. Brazilian playmaker Kaká (three goals, one assist) recently returned from injury and is leading Orlando as the Lions’ captain and driving the attack from the middle of the pitch. While Kreis has fielded a variety of formations, Orlando's attack becomes particularly threatening when forwards Cyle Larin and Carlos Rivas pair up top, as the 22-year-old and 23-year-old have combined for nine of Orlando’s 14 goals, plus six assists.
Wednesday's match is another huge opportunity for United to pick up points on the road, but Orlando will likely enter the night with extra fire, as the Lions look to avoid going winless in seven straight matches. Following Wednesday's meeting, the Black-and-Red return to RFK to host the LA Galaxy on Saturday at 7 PM.