With just FIVE MLS regular season fixtures remaining, Orlando City SC face a make or break challenge away at D.C. United that will define our chances of qualifying for the MLS Cup Playoffs.
Enduring a hugely damaging 1-4 home defeat to Columbus Crew last time out, that was a game in which Jason Kreis‘ side really needed three points to keep their destiny within their own hands.
A game whereby Orlando City SC looked bereft of ideas at the worst possible stage in the season, the Lions really don’t have any time to lick their wounds right now with victories being required or bust.
Given the way in which City just haven’t been able to string enough positive results together all season long, they have toiled in and around the red line for most of 2016.
Perhaps the only saving grace post Columbus Crew lay in the fact that out of Orlando City SC‘s five remaining fixtures, Jason Kreis‘ side go up against teams that we are in direct competition with for MLS Cup Playoff qualification.
Facing D.C. United this weekend ahead of Ben Olsen’s men travelling to Camping World Stadium on the final day of the season, a home game against Montreal Impact is also sandwiched in between these fixtures.
Right now, Orlando City SC have no option but to go for maximum points in all of those key head-to-heads while hoping their playoff rivals surrender points in their own respective fixtures.
Yet to face D.C. in 2016 of course, it feels like a hell of a long time since Orlando City SC faced the RFK Stadium-based outfit.
In the three regular season meetings last season however, there was certainly very little to choose between the two teams judging by the scorelines.
2015 head-to-head stats
It proved third time lucky for Orlando City SC registering their first series victory over D.C. United last term.
With Ben Olsen’s men visiting Central Florida twice last season, the Washington-based side narrowly lost out the second time they visited with a 30th-minute Kaká penalty kick enough to secure all three points after Taylor Kemp’s foul on Pedro Ribeiro.
While holding a 1-0 lead for that long would prove incredibly nervy for Orlando City SC supporters to bear right now, we’ll certainly take it with games running out and the playoff qualification chances diminishing.
This season’s two fixtures against D.C. United have come incredibly late in the season with Ben Olsen’s side being the only team Orlando City SC are yet to have faced in 2016.
With three Major League Soccer meetings having been played out in 2015, it is D.C. United who boast the superior record heading into this one having won two head-to-heads compared to Orlando City SC‘s single victory.
It was the club’s first ever meeting at the Citrus Bowl back in April 2015 that was particularly difficult to bear however with Adrian Heath‘s Orlando City SC having controlled the entire game only to surrender a Luis Silva sucker punch (0-1) in stoppage time.
Orlando City SC 0 D.C. United 1 – Highlights – April 3, 2015 (Credit: Major League Soccer)
An interesting observation is that in all THREE of the D.C. United versus Orlando City SC encounters thus far, all of those games have been separated by a single goal, serving to suggest these two are evenly matched.
Having already mentioned the first and third meetings between the Eastern Conference rivals last term, the middle fixture started off in the best possible fashion with a Cyle Larin strike putting the Lions 0-1 up at RFK Stadium in the 11th minute back in May 2015.
Unfortunately, the Black and Red rallied late on that occasion with Orlando City SC enduring a forgettable 10-minute second-half spell in which Kofi Opare and Chris Rolfe turned the game on its head to win 2-1 that time around.
D.C. United form
If you’ve been following D.C. United of late, you’ve definitely witnessed your fair share of drama with Ben Olsen’s side having been involved in some high scoring encounters recently.
In fact, there have been OVER 2.5 GOALS scored in D.C.’s last FOUR Major League Soccer fixtures with the Black and Red scoring exactly TWO goals in these last four games.
On the road for their last three consecutive MLS fixtures, Orlando City SC will be praying D.C. United aren’t as ruthless as the last time they were at home when smashing Chicago Fire 6-2 at RFK Stadium back on August 27th.
Mid-season arrival Patrick Mullins scored a hat-trick on that occasion and he’s certainly the dangerman for D.C. up top.
A huge problem for Orlando City SC is that D.C. United have plenty of goals in their locker with Ben Olsen’s men having scored AT LEAST TWO GOALS in SEVEN of their last EIGHT Major League Soccer fixtures.
An unhelpful sub-plot in Orlando City SC‘s playoff qualification challenge has been the fact that in both Gameweek 27 and 28, D.C. United scored stoppage time equalisers to earn two crucial road points whereby Jason Kreis‘ men earned none from LA Galaxy and then Columbus Crew.
Lamar Neagle’s 95th minute equaliser at New York Red Bulls (2-2) and then Bobby Boswell’s 92nd minute leveller at Chicago Fire recently have showcased D.C. United’s fighting spirit and never-say-die attitude in abundance.
Chicago Fire 2 D.C. United 2 – Highlights – September 16, 2016 (Credit: Major League Soccer)
As has been the case with many of Orlando City SC‘s Major League Soccer rivals this season, the only saving grace is that D.C. United have also been conceding a lot recently.
Ben Olsen’s men have conceded AT LEAST TWO GOALS in their last FOUR MLS fixtures, most recently tying 2-2 away at Chicago Fire of course.
With Orlando City SC looking like they’ll need to outscore the opposition once more with the defence having yet again gone AWOL against Columbus Crew, this one could be a high scoring encounter unlike last season’s tight full-time scorelines.
Orlando City SC form
Orlando City SC‘s 1-4 away victory over Montreal Impact came right out of the blue earlier this month and every Lions supporter knows that three-point road hauls are extremely rare.
That said, Orlando City SC are more than capable of scoring in away games with Lions road fixtures having produced OVER 2.5 GOALS on ELEVEN of the last THIRTEEN occasions.