Although our 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs dream is in tatters, it was simply great to see the Lions get back to winning ways despite the context of the victory.
Now heading to Atlanta United’s shiny new Mercedes-Benz Stadium home for a final 2017 meeting with The Five Stripes, Orlando City SC should be fired up for a first win over our *rivals*.
There has been a whole lot of hype regarding Major League Soccer’s new so-called ‘Derby of the South’ but in reality, true rivalries must develop over time.
Nevertheless, there is no shortage of ill-feeling between both sides’ supporters with Atlanta United’s provocative billboard fuelling the hate in July.
Add the fact that Atlanta United are utilising Mercedes-Benz Stadium’s full capacity especially for this game and Orlando City SC should feel inspired and motivated in front of over 70,000 spectators.
Orlando City SC‘s aim now is to finish as close to the red line as possible with the players needing to give their all to be retained for 2018.
Although Orlando City SC aren’t mathematically out of contention to qualify for the 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs, we just need to concentrate on winning games while avoiding finishing bottom in the Eastern Conference.
2015/17 head-to-head stats
Orlando City SC were cruelly denied all three points in the stifling heat of our rivals’ Bobby Dodd Stadium home in July.
Drawing 1-1 across the state line in Georgia, Héctor Villalba’s 92nd minute equaliser stole a point for the home side.
Orlando City SC went 0-1 up in the most spectacular style just before half-time however.
Neatly cushioning the ball and laying it to an onrushing Kaká, our Brazilian captain spectacularly struck it first-time beyond a helpless Brad Guzan.
Nestling in Guzan’s top left hand corner, the feeling of silencing a sell-out home crowd was absolutely fantastic.
Atlanta United 1 Orlando City SC 1 – Highlights – July 29, 2017 (Credit: Atlanta United FC)
Heading into this one, Orlando City SC‘s sole motivation should be finally getting one over on their so-called MLS rivals.
A game prior to that 1-1 draw at Bobby Dodd Stadium, Héctor Villalba scored a stunning 86th minute goal to defeat the Lions 0-1 at Orlando City Stadium on July 21st.
An incredibly sore loss to take, not only because it was Atlanta United but the fact the goal was so late, Orlando City SC will be seeking revenge in this one.
Orlando City SC 0 Atlanta United 1 – Highlights – July 21, 2017 (Credit: Atlanta United FC)
Now performing in front of what will be one of Major League Soccer’s biggest ever crowds, it would be a huge statement to defeat Atlanta United in their shiny new Mercedes-Benz Stadium home.
Gerardo Martino’s side opened the stunning facility with a 3-0 win against FC Dallas last weekend and Orlando City SC should feel inspired by these grand surroundings.
As we’re all too aware, Orlando City SC don’t enjoy facing New England Revolution’s Kei Kamara and they don’t relish facing this man either!
Single-handedly stealing four points off the Lions in July’s two consecutive meetings, Atlanta United forward Héctor Villalba is quickly turning into a City villain.
Atlanta United form
Despite only recently switching home from Bobby Dodd Stadium to Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta United aren’t experiencing any moving issues as yet.
After all, The Five Stripes are UNDEFEATED in their last EIGHT HOME FIXTURES in Major League Soccer.
The first six of those games were contested at temporary home Bobby Dodd Stadium but Gerardo Martino’s men have started life at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in a rampant mood.
Comfortably defeating Western Conference outfit FC Dallas 3-0 last weekend, goals from Leandro González Perez, Josef Martínez and Greg Garza sealed all three points.
Not only that but Atlanta United followed that up with a virtuoso 7-0 victory over New England Revolution on Wednesday!
Taking Atlanta United’s last SIX MLS fixtures into account, The Five Stripes have drawn THREE of those games against Orlando City SC (1-1), Sporting Kansas City (1-1) and Philadelphia Union (2-2).
Sitting fifth in the Eastern Conference following Gameweek 27, 2017 MLS Cup qualification is still very much on the cards for Gerardo Martino’s side.
Having played the fewest amount of games (26) in the East after Week 27, Atlanta United crucially have games in hand on all of their Eastern Conference rivals.
Orlando City SC form
Orlando City SC away games have producing a lot of goals recently. In the Lions’ last FOUR road games, OVER 2.5 GOALS have been scored.
Losing 2-1 at Montreal Impact, 3-1 at New York Red Bulls, 4-0 at New England Revolution and winning 1-2 at D.C. United, neutrals would’ve been thoroughly entertained.
For us City fans however, the last five months have been incredibly painful with Jason Kreis‘ side shipping way too many goals to stand a chance of bagging three points.
All the more reason why it was fantastic to see Orlando City SC getting back to winning ways last weekend with the hope of seeing out the 2017 campaign with pride intact.
Something we’ve grown accustomed to in Major League Soccer, Cyle Larin is still scoring goals.
Becoming Orlando City SC‘s all-time leading goalscorer following his strike in last Saturday’s 1-2 win at D.C. United, the Canadian international now has 43 Lions goals to his name.
Add in the 22-year-old’s 62nd minute strike against Vancouver Whitecaps recently and Cyle Larin has scored TWO GOALS in his last THREE MLS appearances.
D.C. United 1 Orlando City SC 2 – Highlights – September 9, 2017 (Credit: Atlanta United FC)