Los Angeles Football Club travel to Florida for the first time to take on Orlando City SC at their stomping grounds on Saturday. Since LAFC normally only face Orlando once a year, you may not know what’s up with the Lions these days. No worries, we chatted with Ben Miller of SB Nation’s Orlando City site The Mane Land to get the rundown. Many thanks to Ben for taking the time to answer my questions!
Angels on Parade asks The Mane Land:
1. So, we’re pretty late in the campaign, but how have things been going for Orlando City this season?
Simply put, better than last year but considering the low bar that doesn’t necessarily mean much. The best news has been the vastly improved defense, Orlando has only given up 39 goals this year, a number that I believe only eight teams have bettered. The problem has been scoring at the other end, with a paltry return of 35 goals - only three teams in the league have scored fewer. The Lions have particularly struggled to score during the summer months, and the theme of a lot of recent games has been the creation of good chances with the failure to put them away. For people who thought this season would be a complete 180 from last year it’s surely been a disappointment, but for those of us who always expected this to be a year of transition and attempting to build a foundation, it’s been roughly as expected.
2. Who has been the MVP of the team this season, and why?
For me it would be Tesho Akindele. While Nani currently is tied with Tesho as the top goal-scorer and is the lone top assist provider with nine and eight respectively, that was the sort of thing that was expected of him and is exactly why he was brought in. His production in those areas has also really fallen off over the summer months after a red hot start to the season, although a large part of that is due to teams being able to focus on marking him out of the game since no other Orlando players have proven capable of picking up the creative slack. Akindele has done far far more than was expected of him. He’s set a career high in goals this year, has two assists, and at times has seemed like the only player keeping Orlando afloat during the summer months. Without his nine unexpected goals the team wouldn’t be even thinking about a long-shot run to the playoffs, and he came at a bargain price to boot.
Honorable mentions would be the CB pairing of Robin Jansson and Lamine Sane, who have been stalwarts at the back and have been a huge part of Orlando’s defensive turnaround. Their contributions shine even more after the revolving door of CB pairings that the Lions had last year, and the two defenders are a massive reason for the club still being in faint touching distance of the playoffs.
3. LAFC are missing a bunch of players, who will be out for Orlando on Saturday?
Will Johnson, Kamal Miller, Tesho Akindele, Carlos Ascues, and Sebas Mendez are all away on international duty. Joao Moutinho and Ruan are out with hamstring injuries, and Mauricio Pereyra is doubtful.
4. Prediction for Saturday’s match?
This team is missing a LOT of important players and I struggle to see how that has a remotely happy ending. 2-0 LAFC.
You can read my answers to Ben’s questions at The Mane Land.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!