Having earned a week off due to the postponement of the New England Revolution fixture, Orlando City SC are back in action Saturday night with Philadelphia Union in town.
Suitably rested with a game in hand on nine of our ten other Eastern Conference opponents, Jason Kreis will be looking to build upon a perfect start at our new Orlando City Stadium home.
In the 1-0 triumph over New York City FC on the opening weekend of the 2017 Major League Soccer season, the Lions showed real resilience which was severely lacking in 2016.
While it’s still early days of course, another home victory would be important in bolstering our belief that we can truly make home field advantage count as we hunt down the 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs this year.
With Cyle Larin also substituted as a precaution in that game, the unforeseen rest due to the Revs postponement has meant the Canadian international has had ample time to shake off the knock he picked up.
In last season’s three head-to-heads between the pair, results were evenly distributed with a loss, draw and a victory being played out.
2015/16 head-to-head stats
The last few games of the 2016 MLS season were all about pride for Jason Kreis‘ Orlando City SC side with our MLS Cup Playoff hopes written off due to damaging back-to-back defeats against Columbus Crew and D.C. United.
Demonstrating good character however, the penultimate game of the season saw the Lions run out 0-2 victors against Philadelphia Union at Talen Energy Stadium.
While the victory wasn’t significant with the pressure most certainly off, this result did mark Orlando City SC‘s first ever win against Jim Curtin’s Union in Major League Soccer however.
Philadelphia Union 0 Orlando City SC 2 – Highlights – October 16, 2016 (Credit: Major League Soccer)
As mentioned, the most recent meeting between the sides produced Orlando City SC‘s first ever MLS victory against Union.
Prior to that 0-2 triumph, Union had been a tough nut for the Lions to crack with Tranquillo Barnetta proving a particular nemesis, scoring in two of the three head-to-heads last season.
With the Swiss international no longer around, he won’t be there to harm Orlando City SC‘s fortunes in 2017.
We’re so used to Orlando City SC fixtures being high scoring encounters with over 2.5 goals being witnessed in many games.
However, in match-up’s with Philadelphia Union, the opposite is usually true with THREE of FIVE head-to-heads seeing UNDER 2.5 GOALS scored.
If the solid 1-0 victory over New York City FC is anything to go by, we’re sure the majority of Orlando City SC supporters would take winning football over stylish football with the 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs a must at our third attempt.
Orlando City SC form
Something that has somewhat gone under the radar is the fact that Orlando City SC have taken maximum points from their last THREE Major League Soccer fixtures.
When you tag on the 0-2 victory over Philadelphia Union and the 4-2 win over D.C. United from last season, add in the 1-0 win over New York City FC and we’re starting to build a nice run of victories.
To beat Philadelphia Union and gain maximum points from our first two MLS fixtures this season would breed huge positivity and belief.
Orlando City SC 1 New York City FC 0 – Highlights – March 5, 2017 (Credit: Major League Soccer)
Speaking of winning our last THREE consecutive fixtures in MLS, dig deeper into our last FIVE encounters and you’ll see that Joe Bendik managed THREE clean sheets in that period.
Everybody knows how outstanding Joe Bendik was both last season and already this, and with greater protection in front of the 27-year-old nowadays, the hope is that more clean sheets will continue.
With Orlando City SC only managing FIVE shutouts in MLS last season, we really never gave ourselves a realistic fighting chance of making the playoffs.
Philadelphia Union form
The most eye-catching stat heading into this fixture is the fact Philadelphia Union are WINLESS in their last 10 MLS fixtures.
A substantial period without a victory for Jim Curtin’s side, this must be weighing heavy on the players’ minds right now and hopefully Orlando City SC can take further advantage.
Last bagging all three points against Sporting Kansas City back on 27th August 2016, Union laboured into the 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs and only beat New England Revolution to sixth place by goal difference and the Lions by a point.
Despite Andre Blake being one of the most promising goalkeepers in Major League Soccer, the fact remains that Philadelphia Union have been conceding too many goals.
Carrying over into 2017 with Union drawing 2-2 with Toronto FC in gameweek two, Philadelphia Union have now conceded AT LEAST TWO GOALS in FIVE of their last SIX MLS fixtures.
Philadelphia Union 2 Toronto FC 2 – Highlights – March 11, 2017 (Credit: Toronto FC)