The MLS All-Star break is over, the New England Revolution bye week is over, and this is the week we discover if the Revs might be a playoff team.
You see, a playoff team would go on the road and smash a team that has one win (and just those three points) in its last thirteen games. A playoff team should have no problems racking up goals on a defense that has already allowed 51 league goes so far in the season and it’s only August.
The Revolution’s road to the playoffs will literally be forged on the road, but there are a lot of winnable games to be had as the season moves into the fall. If the Revs have any chance of solidifying a playoff spot, today is a must win. If Orlando has any chance of really get back into the playoff race at all, today is a must win.
Anyway, we chat with The Mane Land’s Logan Oliver about Kljestan taking over for Kaka and that horrid Lion’s defense all without talking about Justin Meram once. You can read my answer’s to Logan’s questions over on their site and check out TML’s awfully titled PawedCast episdoe where I chat about the Revs with Michael Citro and company and preview today’s Revs game.
TBM: Last year, the horrid 2017 New England Revolution gave up 61 goals for the entire MLS season...somehow Orlando has already given up 51 goals?!?!?!?! How is that possible?
LO: Injuries have been the biggest culprit. Captain and star center back Jonathan Spector has been out with various injuries for most of the season and has been limited to just eight league matches. Scott Sutter, who was impressive last season at right back, has also dealt with several issues and just recently got back into the lineup for his seventh appearance this year. The big defensive acquisition from Werder Bremen, Senegal international Lamine Sané, has naturally also been dealing with injuries and hasn’t seen the field since the end of June.
Couple missing three players pegged as starters with poor giveaways in midfield that put the defenders on the back foot and some lapses in judgement and you have this year’s Orlando City defense.
TBM: Kaka moved on from OCSC into retirement and the Lions responded by acquiring Sacha Kljestan, how has that change worked for Orlando this year?
LO: Sacha didn’t set the world on fire to start the season. Part of that was Orlando’s lack of clinical finishing up top. He was solid and created a fair number of chances but no one could put them away. Since James O’Connor has joined the club, though, Kljestan has been noticeably more effective. He has two goals and two assists in the five matches under the new boss and has been a huge part of City’s offensive improvement in recent weeks.
Sacha has been an improvement on 2017 Kaká in that he’s at least been available but Kljestan definitely has some deficiencies to his game the Brazilian didn’t. Even at 32 Sacha has been reliable, playing almost every minute he’s been available for.
TBM: Orlando sits in 9th place, six points back of the Revs for a playoff spot...is there any chance the Lions get above the red line this year or is OCSC already looking towards 2019?
LO: That’s the question Orlando City fans have been asking themselves. City has been hard-done in recent weeks with refereeing decisions resulting in dropped points and a jammed schedule since O’Connor’s arrival. Playoffs are certainly the goal —
and Justin Meram’s return to training this week makes the run in intriguing — but it will rely on getting the back line healthy and either finding another goal scorer on the transfer market or having someone in the side step up. This weekend’s match is certainly must-win for the Lions.