Minnesota United FC vs. Orlando City SC
2017 MLS Match Preview
TCF Bank Stadium – Minneapolis, MInn.
Saturday, May 27 – 8:00 pm ET
WATCH: MLS LIVE
Heading into their May 3 match against Toronto FC, many people considered Orlando City SC the best team in MLS. After all, they had started the season 6-1-0 and were sitting atop the Supporters' Shield standings.
They ended up losing that match 2-1 and in have not won since, which in a busy few weeks means they have gone 0-3-2 in the month of May. They have scored just four goals in those five games, but the attack was never the part of the game that was driving them, they had scored just 10 goals in their first seven games.
What has really been the culprit has been their faltering defense. After conceding just five goals in their first seven games, they have coughed up 12 in their last five. What's striking is that they have given up almost exactly the same amount of shots per game over the two stretches, 11.57 in their first seven games and 11.60 in their last five. But when looking at the quality of chances, you begin to see a bit of a change.
Orlando have given up more shots on target per game over the last five games, 6.0 compared to 4.6, and the expected goals numbers provided by Opta tell an even more drastic story. In their first seven games, they conceded an expected goals value per game of .81. That number has jumped to 1.89 over the last five. This means that although they are conceding the same number of shots, they would be expected to concede a goal more on average based on the quality of those chances.
They will try to right the ship against a Minnesota United FC team that has scored 18 goals, the third-most in the Western Conference.
Minnesota United FC
Saturday night's game will be personal for Adrian Heath and Kevin Molino, both of whom arrived in Minnesota this offseason after helping Orlando graduate from USL to MLS.
Heath, in particular, has reason to circle this game on his calendar after being relieved of his head-coaching duties in the middle of the 2016 season.
“I would like to say it’s no different," he told the Star Tribune, "but it can’t be when you’ve spent the amount of time and involvement in building something like we did in Orlando.”
Minnesota will try to capitalize on the fall in form of the Orlando City defense, but they will have to do so without the services of rookie forward Abu Danladi. The No. 1 pick in the 2017 SuperDraft picked up a groin injury over the weekend against the LA Galaxy and will miss this match. Danladi had a goal and two assists in his two previous starts.
The player who will likely replace him will be Costa Rican international Johan Venegas. The 28-year-old had been relegated to the bench with the insertion of Danladi into the starting XI and will hope to show why he deserves to be back in Adrian Heath's lineup permanently going forward. He has two goals and two assists in 738 minutes so far this season and leads the Loons with 17 chances created.
- Suspended: None
- Int’l Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT – M Bernardo Anor (left lower leg injury), M/D Thomas de Villardi (left Achilles injury), F Abu Danladi (right adductor injury)
Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1): GK: Bobby Shuttleworth – Jerome Thiesson, Brent Kallman, Francisco Calvo, Marc Burch – Sam Cronin, Ibson – Johan Venegas, Kevin Molino, Miguel Ibarra – Christian Ramirez
Notes: Minnesota are 3-3-0 in MLS play at home, with an average of 3.3 goals scored per game play in Minnesota. They have only been held scoreless once and only kept two clean sheets at home.
Orlando City SC
While the form of the team defense has been worrying, the fact the offense has yet to have a breakout game isn't ideal. In part this can be explained by the limited time Kaká has been on the field.
The Brazilian legend has played just 315 of a possible 1,080 minutes due to injury, and despite registering three goals and an assist, he has not been at his best so far. MLSsoccer.com's Matt Doyle suggested that he is dropping too deep, leaving him disconnected from star striker Cyle Larin, and the numbers back it up. In limited minutes, he has seen his chances created per 90 minutes drop from 2.21 in 2016 to 1.14 this season.
- Suspended: None
- Int’l Duty: D Tommy Redding (U-20 World Cup)
- Injury Report: None
Projected Starting XI (4-4-2, diamond): GK: Joe Bendik — Scott Sutter, Jose Aja, Jonathan Spector, Donny Toia — Antonio Nocerino, Will Johnson, Cristian Higuita, Kaká — Cyle Larin, Carlos Rivas
Notes: Orlando are one of nine teams that have yet to keep a clean sheet on the road this season. Orlando had only two shots on target vs. NYCFC last weekend. This snapped a 10-game streak of at least three shots on target.
- First matchup.
Referee: Nima Saghafi
Assistant Referees: Kevin Klinger, Felisha Mariscal
Fourth Official: Juan Guzman