STATS PREVIEW: Minnesota United vs Orlando City SC – 27.05.2017

It appears the honeymoon start to Orlando City SC‘s 2017 season is over with the Lions winless in five ahead of one of the most poignant games of the season.

Heading to TCF Bank Stadium to take on Minnesota United for the first time in Major League Soccer, Orlando City SC take on legendary former City coach Adrian Heath for the first time also.

In what is sure to be a strange afternoon for Inchy who won two USL Championships and three USL regular-season titles with Orlando City SC between 2011 and 2016, the Lions desperately need a positive result.

All too familiar sloppy defending and individual errors now seem to have crept back into Orlando City SC‘s game lately and a good performance is needed to remind ourselves of our 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs potential.

Emphatically beaten 0-3 by New York City FC last time out, our proud unbeaten record at Orlando City Stadium is now over with a big reaction needed.

As for our opponents Minnesota United, the Loons are currently going those same inaugural MLS season emotions we all experienced back in 2015.

After an incredibly painful start to life in MLS, shipping EIGHTEEN goals in their first FOUR fixtures, Adrian Heath‘s side have shown some signs of improvement although they currently sit ninth (11 points) in the Western Conference following Gameweek 12.

The twin signing of Colorado Rapids duo Marc Burch and Sam Cronin has added crucial MLS experience and quality to Minnesota United’s ranks with the Loons also boasting Kevin Molino of course.

Appearing 124 times for Orlando City SC across USL and MLS (2011-2016), both the Trinidad and Tobago international and Christian Ramirez are widely recognised as the Loons’ two most influential players.

Head-to-head stats

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As everybody is firmly aware, unless you’d been living on Mars, Saturday’s meeting between Minnesota United and Orlando City SC is the sides’ very first in Major League Soccer.

Enjoying a similar kind of route into MLS like Orlando City SC, Minnesota United already existed before their Major League Soccer guise, performing in the North American Soccer League (NASL) from 2010 to 2016.

Officially announced as Major League Soccer’s 22nd franchise on March 25th 2015, the Loons’ biggest success to date was winning the 2011 NASL crown in the first season of the relaunched division.

Appointing Orlando City SC legend Adrian Heath as their first ever MLS coach in November 2016, Inchy and Minnesota United are enduring a tough start to life at North America’s top table.

Minnesota United form

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It has been a real mixed bag for Minnesota United at home in Minneapolis so far this season.

Winning THREE and losing THREE of their SIX home fixtures played at TCF Bank Stadium, it was this kind of inconsistency that ultimately cost Adrian Heath his job at Orlando City SC.

Starting life as a new MLS franchise is incredibly tough as us Lions fans are all aware with the MLS Cup Playoffs eluding us so far.

Despite Minnesota United’s lowly position in the Western Conference right now, the Loons are hugely capable of scoring (18 goals so far) but have also conceded the most amount of goals (30) in MLS so far this season.

The Loons’ most recent home defeat came in their last game against LA Galaxy, a 1-2 loss as Christian Ramirez played the hero and villain, equalising on 66 minutes only to put through his own net on 84 minutes.

Minnesota United 1 LA Galaxy 2 – Highlights – May 21, 2017 (Credit: Minnesota United FC)

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The man Loons fans lovingly refer to as ‘Superman’, there is no doubting that Christian Ramirez is Minnesota United’s most dangerous player.

Handling the transition from NASL to Major League Soccer with ease so far, the 26-year-old California native has scored FIVE goals in his last EIGHT appearances for Minnesota United.

Taking his tally to SEVEN goals for the season so far, it is this kind of consistent goalscoring that has led to some calling for Christian Ramirez to be included in Bruce Arena’s United States squad for the forthcoming 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

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Not only facing Adrian Heath but also Orlando City SC old boy Kevin Molino on Saturday, there’s no doubt the Trinidad and Tobago international will be a threat.

With THREE assists to his name so far this season, this tally is by no means outstanding but given our familiarity in his movement and ability to pick up space, he’ll be lively – especially against a former club.

Leaving Central Florida under a cloud in one of the biggest deals in MLS history in January 2017, Kevin Molino didn’t want to play for the Lions anymore.

Ultimately a sour end to what was such a long and illustrious spell for Orlando City SC, his involvement is another fascinating subplot to Saturday’s game.

Orlando City SC form

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The memory of winning SIX of our opening SEVEN MLS fixtures is fading fast with Orlando City SC now winless in FIVE games.

A run that began with a narrow 2-1 defeat to Toronto FC at the start of May, the Canadian side now look the side to beat in the Eastern Conference with a five-point lead at the summit following Gameweek 12.

Our 0-3 home loss to New York City FC last time out was arguably the most disappointing result so far this term given Houston Dynamo were in terrific form when defeating us 4-0.

Not only did NYCFC look sharper, hungrier and more determined in every tackle and counter, Orlando City SC looked a team low on confidence, typified by Cyle Larin‘s 64th minute penalty miss.

Although we never looked in the game at any point, scoring this penalty may have changed the complexion.

Orlando City SC 0 New York City FC 3 – Highlights – May 21, 2017 (Credit: New York City FC)

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While road games are always going to be tougher than home fixtures, the fact remains that Orlando City SC have been conceding too many goals away from home.

There has now been OVER 2.5 GOALS scored in THREE of City’s FIVE away fixtures so far this term.

Coming out on top 1-2 against New York City FC on April 23rd, the 2-1 and 4-0 defeats to both Toronto FC and Houston Dynamo really seem to have knocked our early season confidence.

Heading into a last ten minute lead against San Jose Earthquakes lately, the fact we surrendered this to Chris Wondolowski only three minutes later would’ve really angered Jason Kreis.

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Where road games are concerned, Orlando City SC have been put on the back foot early in the majority of away fixtures played so far.

Losing at BOTH HALF-TIME AND FULL-TIME in THREE of our FIVE away fixtures so far this season, the Lions have made life difficult for themselves.

Away from home, Jason Kreis has been forced to rotate the central defensive partnership this term with José AjaLéo Pereira, Tommy Redding and Jonathan Spector all getting starts on the road.

While this rotation can’t have helped matters, everybody needs to dig in to bring more road points back to Central Florida if we are to realise our ambition of reaching the 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs.

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