For the third straight year the Open Cup symbolizes a battle between South and Central Florida. You already know that Miami United will host Orlando City tomorrow night. You already know that the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and The Miami FC have defeated the MLS foe in consecutive years. What you don’t already know is, Can Miami United make it three straight years of South Florida dominance? Miami United have been nothing short of spectacular in most of their matches so far in 2018. Only losing one match out right, United have arguably been the better team in most of their matchups throughout the NPSL and the Open Cup. A mixture of new faces and returning NPSL veterans have taken United to new heights, some which even owner Roberto Sacca would concede weren’t imaginable. The attacking quintet has provided a spark of confidence for a defense that has done a fantastic job staying out of the spotlight.
On the other side of the pitch, is a team that has dominated the airwaves in Florida with a support that does stretch to all corners of the state. The 2018 campaign has proven to be quite the rollercoaster for Jason Kreis’ squad. Starting the season winless in their first three matches, Orlando rallied to a tune of six straight wins. However, the club is coming into this Open Cup fixture dropping all four of their previous four matches. If that wasn’t stressful enough, this contest comes right in the middle of a four-game road trip that will see Orlando have to make a trans-continental trip to Vancouver on Saturday before finishing four matches in eleven days in Montreal.
There’s no doubt that Orlando City will have local fans in attendance at Ted Hendricks Stadium, the question is which team will actually show up for the Lions? With recent blunders in the Open Cup, surely the front office would like to see the club make a deep run in this year’s edition, but, the fixture clog could prove costly. There will have to be a decision made for City as to what is more important, the Open Cup or the MLS playoffs? It’s important to note that Orlando City has yet to qualify for the MLS playoff’s in their first three years in the league and an extended losing streak could leave them on the outside looking in a third of the way through the year.
Thanks to the help of our friends over at the Mane Land, we have a better idea of who could line up for the Lions come Wednesday. Back up keeper Earl Edwards Jr would seem to get the nod while playing behind Victor “PC” Giro (Ft. Lauderdale Strikers), RJ Allen, Tony Rocha and Will Johnson. In the midfield you could expect a combination of Dillon Powers, Cam Lindley, Pierre Da Silva, Jose Villareal, and Richie Laryea. Manning the striker position on his own, our old friend, Stefano Pinho (Miami FC). The bench could be comprised off some of Orlando’s heaviest hitters including Josue Colman, Justin Meram, and Johnathan Spector along others.
Keys to a Miami United Victory:
The deployment above could be easily be rated as “average to above average” and would require that United play a similar game to the one that felled Miami and Jacksonville in the previous two rounds. United is an aggressive team that enjoys pressuring their opponents on the ball and closing out space. United would have to clog the passing lanes and display outstanding defending in order to keep Pinho at bay.
For Miami United’s attacking group, being able to break on counters will be of upmost importance against the Lions. Being able to capitalize on mistakes and get Orlando’s centrebacks on an island will prove beneficial in creating chances. With the pace of Privitera and the creative vision of Tomas Granitto, these two could be a lethal combination especially if they were to mix in Victor Pelae’s ability to play with his back to the target. Forcing Orlando’s backline, which has been shaky at best recently, into quick decisions and uncomfortable situations could be all that United need to set up a potential date with yet another MLS club.
Last year we discussed on our podcast that the Miami FC versus Orlando City match could go either way in terms of a blow-out. For 65 minutes Miami FC was doing just that to Orlando. This year’s edition of South Florida versus Central Florida won’t be quite the same. This match will prove whether United’s ability to constantly pressure opponents and capitalize off turnovers, is something that works at the next level or just against footballers in their own weight class. Expect a close contest that will be decided on either a complete lack of composure or a costly error.
Omar: Miami United FC 2 – 3 Orlando City (AET)
Matt: Miami United FC 0 – 1 Orlando City (AET)
Drew: Miami United FC 4 – 3 Orlando City
Abel: Miami United FC 1 – 3 Orlando City
You can watch Wednesday’s game via the U.S. Open Cup Network. Click on this link in order to watch Wednesday’s live stream from Hialeah.