Whaddup, midweek MLS game! It’s nice* to see you.
*Or it’s terrible to see you, depending on how this one goes.
After a surprise win against the Vancouver Whitecaps thanks to a gifted penalty, D.C. United have flown down to take on Orlando City in a busy week for the Black-and-Red. The home side will be without star Kaká, while United will be missing Jose Ortiz, suspended for diving to earn that penalty gift—and one of those losses seems a bit more consequential than the other, no?
But even coming off a road win and facing an Orlando team in a rough patch, we’re not sure the Black-and-Red get much from this game.
Donald Wine II
The Black-and-Red were fortunate in Vancouver to escape with three points, but it’s going to take a lot more to win down in Orlando in the new fortress they have built. Orlando plays tough at home, and it will take a maximum effort to escape with a result down there. Still, somehow United have figured out how to win on the road lately. With Patrick Mullins likely back in the lineup with Jose Ortiz’s suspension, we see a more organized attack, and call me crazy, but I think we get a second road win in a row. 2-0 United, goals by Mullins and Sam.
The Purple Lions have low key had an even worse month of May-so-far than D.C. United. Orlando haven't won yet this month and have a draw and a loss in their two home matches. Which doesn't mean a ton in this parity-infused league of ours, but it's worth mentioning.
I'm betting Ben Olsen tries a similar game plan that's given the team two straight road wins: sitting in a low block, counting on Bill Hamid to be Bill Hamid, and being clinical in a why-can't-you-do-this-at-RFK-for-the-love-of-Etcheverry kind of way. I think it works again this week, until it doesn't. Steve Birnbaum nabs a set piece goal late in the first half to put the visitors up, and the second half is spent entirely in United's half of the field. Hamid does what he does, but Carlos Rivas and Cyle Larin combine for a late equalizer. 1-1 draw to set up this weekend's big B&RU tailgate.
Now that the lack of scoring streak and the losing streak are both off of United's backs, they can turn from trying to scuffle along to something a little more coherent. That doesn't mean that they'll necessarily win this game, but I think that it will be a better performance. A 1-1 draw would be a good result on the road, having flown across the continent, on short rest.
I think that while winning, and scoring a goal is nice and fun, D.C.'s probably looking at a lineup that makes you think or at the very least laugh (Le Toux at forward? Nyarko for 45? Lucho for the whole run?) in the midst of this whole goofy trek. I don't think they're off the duck quite yet, as Larin scores a pair for a 2-0 win and the Lions right the ship a tiny bit.
Orlando reportedly missing Kaka doesn't do that much for me in terms of my prediction, even if it may make it easier for United. Orlando, winless in their last six matches, are also scoreless in their last two. That said, winning a penalty and keeping the other team out is a way to win games, as in Vancouver, but it's not sustainable. I think Patrick Mullins gets a goal, but it's sandwiched between one by Cyle Larin, and the winner by Carlos Rivas.
I'm not sure what to make of this United team any more. I'm also not sure what we'll see from Orlando, who a) may or may not rotate heavily for this one, b) have two different formations, and c) have two different styles based on which formation they choose. This feels like a stab in the dark, basically, but what I expect is for United to mostly frustrate Orlando in the early going, but they'll give up a goal by getting caught too high up the field and being unable to catch up to OCSC's speedy forwards. The game will carry on like this until Orlando grabs another by forcing a turnover in United's end midway through the half. The Black-and-Red respond immediately through Ian Harkes, but don't have enough gas in the tank to fight their way all the way back despite some good looks. 2-1 Orlando.
It’s almost tempting to go all in on DCU somehow, for some reason, being Not Quite As Terrible on the road, but that win in Vancouver feels pretty fluke-y. I don’t anticipate similar shenanigans going down in Orlando, for better or for worse—and, well, it’ll probably be for worse. I’ll say that the Black-and-Red do manage to score a goal without the aid of a silly penalty call (missed your goals, Patrick Mullins!), but ultimately OCSC score two to secure their home win.
What are you predicting for tonight’s game? Let us know in the comments, but first, it’s your silly poll of the week!
Which Disney World ride best describes DCU’s season so far?
This poll is closed
Tower of Terror—falling, falling, back up a little bit, falling...
Test Track—we’re not really in control, and it’s kinda alarming
Tomorrowland’s People Mover—we are going nowhere, and slowly
Carousel of Progress—just the absolute worst
Space Mountain—a little clunky, but ultimately pretty awesome