No one is going to say that tonight’s matchup between the New England Revolution and Orlando City SC is a highly anticipated affair.
These two teams are in Grand Canyon sized ruts, with barely a handful of wins combined in the past few months. However, this series has always provided a lot of drama dating back to the early expansion year 2-2 draws, a bunch of lopsided games and then more recently in August a 3-3 draw that featured a stoppage time equalizer for OCSC.
Today, the Revs are looking to stave off elimination (assuming DC United doesn’t knock New England out of the playoffs with a win this afternoon) while the Lions have been looking at next season for a long while. The soccer might not be good, but it probably will be fun in someway if your a neutral fan.
Joining us in our misery today is Logan Oliver of The Mane Land and you can find my answers to his questions over on their site. A bonus shout out to our friends from Massive Report in Columbus, because if you haven’t heard, we #SavedTheCrew.
TBM: Orlando has won just once since mid-May, with a 9-game losing streak and a current 11-game winless streak in that time...if the Revs are bad, the Lions are pants. How did your season spiral out of control?
LO: There were a variety of reasons. It was always going to be a process getting all of the new faces on the same page quickly. With lengthy injuries to key players like Jonathan Spector, Scott Sutter, and Lamine Sane the defense has been in shambles as even their backups haven’t been able to remain available for selection. There was a point this season where the Lions deployed three midfielders and RJ Allen at centerback as a back line. When Jason Kreis was let go, the reset button was hit yet again except James O’Connor hadn’t hand-selected the roster and the results reflect that. There have been small improvements since the Irishman took over, at least.
TBM: In all this misery, surely someone must be having a positive year for OCSC? Who’s been having a good season and is there someone who’s making a big impression for next year?
LO: Yoshimar Yotun is still a pleasure to watch. Unfortunately he’s away with Peru this weekend but every week he proves he’s one of the best players in MLS. His countryman, defender/midfielder Carlos Ascues, arrived over the summer and has been impressive and should be a key piece for next season. Chris Mueller should be near the top of Rookie of the Year voting even though he’s cooled off recently and if he can take a step forward in 2019, watch out.
TBM: What’s the biggest position or unit Orlando needs to upgrade for 2019? Anything in the rumor will worth listening too at this point for specific players?
LO: Backup striker has been a black hole this year. Dom Dwyer has been the only reliable forward and Stefano Pinho has been his only backup (and a bad one). Even though the defense is statistically terrible, the club has been working on steadily improving it and added defenders Ascues and Shane O’Neill over the summer and if Spector and Lamine Sane can stay healthy it’s a different story. The rumor mill has been silent so far and it’s tough to say how much flexibility Orlando actually has this off-season given several new faces are on the books for next season.
Yoshi Yotun, Mohamed El-Munir, and Amro Tarek will all be away on international duty. Dom Dwyer is suspended. Spector, Pinho, and backup left back PC are all long-shots to be available with injury issues. Orlando has zero strikers available for selection so it will be an interesting setup from O’Connor.
Lineup (4-2-3-1): Joe Bendik; Scott Sutter, Lamine Sane, Shane O’Neill, Tony Rocha; Carlos Ascues, Uri Rosell; Will Johnson, Sacha Kljestan, Cristian Higuita; Chris Mueller
Prediction: 1-0 New England