What a difference a few weeks can make!
After disappointingly only picking up two points from two home games at the start of the season against both Real Salt Lake and Chicago Fire, it’s all change for Adrian Heath‘s Orlando City SC.
With our Lions rising to the very summit of the MLS Eastern Conference after gameweek five (fourth game for City), courtesy of a rousing 4-1 victory over reigning MLS Cup champions Portland Timbers last time out, morale is high right now.
With Kaká showing absolutely no signs of weakness on his goalscoring return, our captain was simply majestic as he inspired others around him to produce a wonderful display against Caleb Porter’s side to remind us all just how much potential is in this team.
So now, we switch our focus to the Lions’ second game on the road this term with a trip up the Eastern Seaboard to face Philadelphia Union at Talen Energy Stadium on Friday evening (midnight in the UK).
2015 head-to-head stats
Lions fans will remember (or will want to forget) that the team faced Philadelphia Union in the very final encounter of 2015 whereby our MLS Cup Playoff hopes were all but extinguished pre kick-off.
Heading into the game, City not only needed New England Revolution to lose but also required an eight goal difference swing in their favour to boot meaning that the final fixture of last season was all about pride at the end of the day.
HIGHLIGHTS: Philadelphia Union 1 Orlando City SC 0 – October 25, 2015 (Credit: FOX Soccer)
Unfortunately for Adrian Heath‘s men, the disappointment at falling short after giving it a right old go against Montreal Impact and New York City FC heading into the final weekend seemed to take its toll as a solitary Sébastien Le Toux strike proved the difference in Pennsylvania.
Facing each other on two occasions last term, Sébastien Le Toux’s strike on the final day of the 2015 campaign was actually the only goal registered in 180 minutes between the pair.
With defences coming out on top for the most part in both fixtures last term, although our Lions went on to romp home 4-1 against Portland Timbers last time out, everybody will be hoping that Cyle Larin‘s injury isn’t too serious heading into this one.
Playing out a 0-0 at the Citrus Bowl in August 2015 ahead of the 1-0 loss up in Pennsylvania on the final day, Adrian Heath‘s team are still yet to register a goal against Philadelphia Union in Major League Soccer.
The good news however is that our Lions have scored in each of their four MLS fixtures played out this season so there is every chance that the team can create a little bit of history on Friday evening.
Philadelphia Union form
Following gameweek five, our Lions were in first place of course with Jim Curtin’s Union only two points away in third place.
Having only played once at Talen Energy Stadium this term heading into this one, it’s a stat that overlaps with the end of last season but Union are actually unbeaten in their last three home MLS fixtures.
Beating New England Revolution a comfortable 3-0 courtesy of goals a brace from C.J. Sapong and Sébastien Le Toux back on March 20th, they are clearly a more than capable outfit at home.
In addition to that comfortable 3-0 home win over New England Revolution earlier this term, Jim Curtin’s side finished off 2015 with two clean-sheet victories over Houston Dynamo (2-0) and of course Orlando City SC (1-0).
Clearly on their mettle defensively at home, our counter attacking game will clearly need to be on point come Friday evening.
If you thought winning their last three home MLS fixtures and by clean-sheets was good, Philadelphia Union have also set their stall out early by leading each of those three fixtures at half-time to boot.
Fortunately for our Lions, we’ve enjoyed a good habit of scoring within the opening 15 minutes of games so far this season so fingers crossed another early strike can put Jim Curtin’s side on the back foot in this one.
Orlando City SC form
We’ve spoken about Philadelphia Union’s recent resilience at home but how about Orlando City SC’s at large?
Adrian Heath‘s Lions are now undefeated in NINE of their last TEN fixtures in Major League Soccer with the 2015 final day loss against Union proving the only blot on a hugely positive run of form.
Unbeaten in FOUR this term when Real Salt Lake somehow didn’t put us away on opening day, let’s hope we can keep the undefeated streak going with three big points on the road to enter the weekend on a high!