Tomorrow marks the toughest matchup for the Union so far this season. While Toronto may have been a better team overall than Orlando, they are still nothing to sneeze at especially in front of their raucous standing-only crowd. The Union lost Jay Simpson to a bruised lung this week, and this will also mark the last game for Alejandro Bedoya before he leaves for National team duty.
Union come into the game 0-0-2 with two points. Orlando is one for one at 1-0-0 with three points.
Although we only have one game to go by with Orlando, there is enough information from Jason Kries’ dedicated coaching philosophy to prepare for this game. The Union will come out in a 4-2-3-1 with CJ Sapong at the tip of the spear. With a strong hold up forward, and a fast winger in Picault, the Union will try to pressure the ball in the middle of the field and break on the wings behind an average Orlando defense.
For the Union it will be important that Onyewu and his partner keep Kyle Larin in check. I think the Union actually have the upper hand here, as Onyewu is strong physically and is maintains in-the-box spacing – two things Larin struggles with. However this is a rookie of the year wonderkid and can strike at any moment. The Union as a team actually match up quite well with Orlando especially with Kaka missing the game to an injury.
If the Union can clog the middle of the field, stop crosses into the box, and get the ball on the foot of Haris Medunjanin they have a good chance to pick up points. Medunjanin has the ability to swing long balls across the field into space for Fafa Picault or Fabian Herbers. If Sapong can work hard to make runs near post it could be the dagger for the Union. It will be harder than these words make it seem however because the crowd in Orlando will be absolutely staggering for opponents. It will be important early to stop any Orlando momentum and quiet the crowd with either an early goal, or ugly first half.
Orlando will be looking to play slow and steady the true Jason Kreis way. Frustrate opponents into taking chances and making mistakes. The team played fluidly and had to be strong to beat a miraculous NYCFC team in their opener. That is the same NYCFC team that absolutely dismantled DC United last weekend 4-0.
This game will settle with a higher score than Orlando’s 1-0 opener, but it’s quite hard to tell which way the pendulum will swing this weekend. Make sure to tune in tomorrow night at 7:30pm EST to see what happens.