What Is Orlando City’s Best Bet Without Brek Shea?

Photo courtesy of Orlando City Soccer Club Communications

Photo courtesy of Orlando City Soccer Club Communications

For the second week in a row the Orlando City Soccer Club will be without marquee midfielder, Brek Shea. Last week it was serving a suspension from two yellow cards and this week it will be International Duty that pulls Shea away from the Lions. A draw was enough to squeak by Columbus Crew SC at home on Saturday but the Chicago Fire, who the Lions are heading to meet this Saturday, are an offensively heavy team who will be looking for another win at home.

The midfield missed Shea against the Crew, without him on the left side Kaká tends to drift too far forward and is unable to focus on controlling the pace and looking for openings when Cyle Larin needs them most. The blowout 4-0 win against L.A. was due largely to the way Shea and Kaká were able to gel and communicate in the middle of the field.

Carlos Rivas took to the left side to replace Shea but was largely ineffective on the night with 6 shots on goal and 2 on target. In the 66th minute Rivas was subbed out for Martin Paterson who did not do much better, contributing 0 shots on goal.

Clearly there will be a gap in the midfield until Shea returns.

The defense has been playing well, considering the big loss of Aurélien Collin, but how long can the back line hold up under the pressure from more high powered offenses?

According to the Orlando City Soccer Club Communications department, Collin was available for selection in the game against Columbus. So if he’s available against Chicago hopefully he sees some playing time to help patch up any defensive holes.

So what is Orlando’s best shot during Shea’s second week absence? Take a page from Jose Mourinho’s book, score then park the bus.

It worked pretty well for Columbus last week, they were down to 10-men after a red card and did exactly that. They scored twice and parked the bus with what was essentially a 4-4-1.

It might be a largely despised strategy, but it works and it can work for Orlando until they get back on their feet in the midfield. The return of Pedro Riberio helped a great deal, lifting the team’s spirits – alongside scoring a goal, but returning from a hamstring injury is tricky and he needs a bit more time to fully recover or Orlando will take the risk of losing him again sometime this season.

Chicago is not exactly a charged environment, they draw about 15,000 fans every week which is a considerable drop considering Orlando is averaging 36,000 fans at home. Also something to note is Orlando’s away record this season, for some reason the white kits give the Lions a power boost.

Until Adrian Heath’s choice 11 are all available at once, something that has not happened for awhile, Orlando’s best bet is to poach goals and control the game on defense. Or score a bunch of goals and never let Chicago have a chance, either way.

Caitlin O'Connell

A Senior Writer and Orlando City Correspondent for 90 Minutes Strong, Caitlin has years of experience as a soccer journalist. She was the Managing Editor at World Soccer Talk and was the Events Assistant at the Boca Raton Bowl.

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