A demanding streak of three away fixtures begins at reigning MLS champions Seattle Sounders this Wednesday evening with Orlando City SC hoping to keep pace with Eastern Conference pacesetters Toronto FC and Chicago Fire.
After drawing 3-3 against Montreal Impact, our performances in this mini away run will tell us a lot whether Orlando City SC truly have the potential to make the 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs.
Now travelling to our second farthest outpost in all of Major League Soccer, some 3,073 miles away at CenturyLink Field, it couldn’t get much tougher with Brian Schmetzer’s Sounders always tough to play against in front of their bumper home gates.
Orlando City SC have travelled to Washington state to face Seattle Sounders once before in MLS but the less said about that game the better with the Lions trounced 4-0 in August of our inaugural season.
Yet to snatch a single point off Seattle Sounders in our two MLS head-to-heads so far, Orlando City SC have been comfortably second best in both games so far so a real improvement is needed in this one.
Boasting the likes of Clint Dempsey, Jordan Morris and Nicolás Lodeiro in their armoury, Seattle Sounders’ frontline looks fearsome on paper but that said, Sounders haven’t been at their free-flowing best this season and currently sit eighth (19 points) in the Western Conference after 16 games played.
Only losing ONCE at CenturyLink Field this season however, Schmetzer’s Sounders have often squeezed past opponents with just three goals being enough to overcome Real Salt Lake, Portland Timbers and Houston Dynamo 1-0 in their last three consecutive home fixtures.
2015/17 head-to-head stats
On Seattle Sounders’ first ever visit to Central Florida in August 2016, Brian Schmetzer’s side proved victorious.
Inflicting Orlando City SC’s first home defeat in more than a year, it was a shock to the system – especially after Seb Hines had given us the perfect start with a powerful 7th minute header to make it 1-0.
From this point forth, the Lions failed to get a grip on a game that truly belonged to United States international Clint Dempsey.
Being a Western Conference outfit, Orlando City SC have only faced Seattle Sounders twice in MLS so far.
Making the long trek to CenturyLink Field to lose 4-0 in 2015, our 1-3 loss last season means that the Lions are yet to register a single point against the reigning MLS champions.
Seattle Sounders 4 Orlando City SC 0 – Highlights – August 16, 2015 (Credit: Seattle Sounders FC)
Ok, we’ve unfortunately got to mention it!
The last time Orlando City SC faced Seattle Sounders, Clint Dempsey quite literally tore the Lions’ defence apart, scoring a hat-trick within just 48 minutes to put the game beyond our reach after Seb Hines’ opener.
Despite being Sounders’ furthest away fixture in all of Major League Soccer, there were no signs of fatigue in Brian Schmetzer’s troops on the day.
In many ways, this was the turning point for Schmetzer’s Sounders who went on to achieve an incredible run of results in the final third of 2016, ultimately ending up as 2016 MLS Cup champions of course.
Orlando City SC 1 Seattle Sounders 3 – Highlights – August 7, 2016 (Credit: Seattle Sounders FC)
Seattle Sounders form
Seattle Sounders may not be blowing away opposition at home like you’d expect but they don’t care right now.
Much like Orlando City SC just squeezing past away opponents at the beginning of 2017, Sounders are doing the same right now.
Winning 1-0 against Real Salt Lake, Portland Timbers and Houston Dynamo in their last three consecutive home fixtures, Orlando City SC will have to fight mighty hard to break down this resilience.
Although Seattle Sounders’ 2017 campaign has been distinctly average so far, one man who has been impressive is 22-year-old midfielder Cristian Roldan.
Scoring TWO goals in his last FOUR MLS appearances for Brian Schmetzer’s side, Roldan is a key cog in Sounders’ starting eleven, so much so that his form hasn’t gone unnoticed by Bruce Arena.
Called up to the United States’ preliminary squad for the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup, he is a player Orlando City SC will have to pay special attention to on Wednesday night.
Orlando City SC form
There’s no doubt about it – Orlando City SC need to be picking up more road points if we are to make the 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs.
Our only road points have come at New York City FC (1-2) and San Jose Earthquakes (1-1) so far with Jason Kreis’ side too heavily reliant on their home form.
That said, Seattle Sounders away is always an incredibly tough proposition so we can imagine most Lions fans would be content with a draw on Wednesday evening.
Unfortunately, Orlando City SC have failed to make the scoresheet in THREE of our SIX away fixtures so far this season.
Drawing a blank at Columbus Crew (2-0), Houston Dynamo (4-0) and Minnesota United (1-0), Orlando City SC looked a totally subdued side in these fixtures.
Jason Kreis would’ve been working hard to address our away mentality on the training field and now without the comfort blanket of a home game for three consecutive MLS fixtures, we need to adapt and quickly!
Minnesota United 1 Orlando City SC 0 – Highlights – May 27, 2017 (Credit: Major League Soccer)