Matchday 2: The Loons vs The Lions. Adrian Heath and Kevin Molino reunite with their former side in a clash between two teams who have similar minded season goals in 2018. Orlando City came back to earn a 90th minute draw in week 1 against DC United, whereas the Loons fell short in a comeback attempt from Kevin Molino. Tonight's match is a huge game for both sides, but more so for the Loons. The squad needs to earn three points and bring home momentum for their home opener next week. Coming home with three points will lead to a hyped home opener where we will ultimately see TCF Bank Stadium shaking on St. Patrick's Day. The squad needs to focus on today, and today only right now, because those three points are more important than anything else today. A question you’re probably asking is how can they do it? How can this squad one-up a massively improved Orlando side from last season? Let’s break it down.
The answer is not plain and simple as one would probably hope, and it's not obvious either. Todays match will revolve around whether or not Christian Ramirez is available first and foremost, and secondly, how the team lines up. Last week, many Minnesota United fans questioned Michael Boxall’s performance on social media, while suggesting that Woodbury, MN native Brent Kallman should be ahead of him in the pecking order. Based on 2017 statistics, the fans are not wrong either. Brent Kallman and Francisco Calvo were overall more proficient in terms of goals allowed and chances created in comparison to Boxall and Calvo during 2017. Whether or not Inchy chooses to start Kallman tonight over Boxall will not be a direct cause for victory, but it would definitely appease the fan base and give the supporters hope and optimism going into the match. So, on that note, i'm going to pitch my lineup to all of you, and hopefully Adrian heath.
This lineup is not the formation that I’d like to see us play, but it is the most probable and more than likely what we will see. Adrian Heath will roll out with a 4-2-3-1, and we won’t see too many player swaps in the lineup either. My preferred backline features Kallman over Boxall along with Ibarra over Nicholson, but it’s possible neither of them will feature tonight at all. Ibarra is starting over Nicholson in my eyes due to his ability to create, and that was extremely evident in both Molino goals last weekend. Tonights match will again, feature heavily on whether or not Ramirez starts, but as of right now, I have Toye in. If Ramirez is good to go tonight, I fully expect him to be slotted into the starting spot up top with Toye on the bench. Earlier this week, Zone coverage writer, Nicolas Hallett tweeted out that Adrian Heath will start Mason Toye if Christian is not good to go, so tonight could be a huge debut for the 19 year old.
At #MNUFC practice today, Adrian Heath says Christian Ramirez is a game time decision this weekend. Heath said if Ramirez can't go then rookie Mason Toye will start. Abu Danladi (hamstring) is out.— Nicolas Hallett (@PrinceHallett) March 8, 2018
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Orlando City should come out of the gates early on trying to get a quick goal and updend the Loons; the same style of play that San Jose went with last week. The Lions are currently without five players tonight, and notably, Sacha Kljestan and Dom Dwyer. The expected lineup from Orlando tonight will be a 4-4-2 led by Justin Meram and Chris Mueller. The back Line of MNUFC will need to shut down Meram, as he is by far the most dangerous player on this Orlando side. Calvo and co. will have their hands full with the attacker, while on the other end, whoever starts uptop for the Loons will need to do the same. Pressure, pressure pressure. The key to breaking down this OCSC side is constant possession accompanied by common sense passes and communication. If the Loons can retain possession in the second half of the field tonight, Kevin Molino will be able to put together a similar performance to the ending of last week's game in San Jose. Molino is the key player for the Loons attack tonight, and if they can manage to build counter attacks around hin tonight, Orlando should be worried.
Do you agree with this lineup? do you think differently? Let us know! Reply to the comments in the comment section or @ us on twitter! #COYL