Orlando City SC have been flirting with playoff contention all season and with the final handful of games fast approaching, the Lions will need to make a stand at Toyota Park in Chicago this Saturday.
Currently just one spot out of contention behind the Montreal Impact with a steep goal difference and one point separating the teams, Orlando have a big hill to climb in order to make it to the franchise’s first playoff in the inaugural season. In order for Orlando to have a chance or breaking into the top 6 teams in the East, a few things need to happen.
The show in midfield must go on
With Kaká staying home in Orlando and Brek Shea not quite 90-minutes fit, this midfield needs to shore up and make the back-line’s job a bit easier while also providing Cyle Larin some assistance up top to try and close the goal difference gap. It’s not an easy task, that is for sure, but I personally have been impressed with Adrian Winter’s performances so far. Even if Shea is not able to play the full 90, we will most likely see him coming off the bench and that should create problems for the Chicago defense.
Cyle Larin needs to be a leader
Hear me out, I know you might need to go re-read that statement again so go ahead. I’ll wait. Why, you may ask, are we expecting a rookie to be a leader? Basically because there is no one else. Larin has been a beacon of hope for this team the entire season, and with Kaká staying in Florida the Canadian Rookie of the Year hopeful needs to show that he has the stuff to not only score goals but to put the team on his back, as it were. The more minutes he gets with Winter and Rivas the better the three of them look together, scoring early and allowing the midfield to take a more defensive stance might be the ticket to locking the game up early and going home with a clean sheet.
I am going to be completely honest with you, there is not a great chance this team makes it to the playoffs but in order for that small sliver of a chance to stay alive the Lions need a big win over the Fire this weekend. Not allowing any more goals and maybe bagging a couple for themselves is a step in the right direction, but the Impact have three games in hand over the Lions and that is a lot.
However, it does not seem like the Lions have given up just yet so neither should we.