MLS

Charlotte FC vs Orlando City: Smith hoping for Orso insight against struggling former club

By Sports Desk June 19, 2024

Dean Smith will hope to utilise the experience of former Orlando City midfielder Junior Orso when his new team Charlotte FC host them in MLS on Thursday.

Charlotte head coach Smith says the influence of Orso, who spent four seasons with Orlando, could benefit the home side at Bank of America Stadium.

"It helps," Smith said of Orso's knowledge. "Little insights of information that can help.

"The fact that Junior will know a lot about them will certainly help us as well."

The Crown are fifth in the Eastern Conference standings, too, owing to their remarkable defence that has helped them to ninth in the Supporter's Shield rankings.

"Defense wins championships,” said Brandt Bronico, reflecting on the team's success this season. "If you can get the defense right, you can [then] start creating and having fun on the offensive end.

"The collective defense-first mindset is probably the most important thing in the locker room."

Orlando are struggling at the bottom of the Eastern Conference table, sitting just one point ahead of New England Revolution, who still have a game in hand.

Oscar Pareja's side were beaten 3-1 by Los Angeles FC last time out, extending their winless streak to four games.

The Orlando head coach acknowledged improvements are needed.

"We need to have a deeper analysis about what's happening on the pitch," Pareja said.

"But once again, it's not enough at this point. We need to win games and that's not happening."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Charlotte FC – Kristijan Kahlina

Charlotte have kept clean sheets in five straight home matches for the first time in club history, thanks to the efforts of goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina.

With a shutout against Orlando, Charlotte would become the sixth team in MLS history to keep six straight home clean sheets within a single season, equaling the second-longest run in league history.

Orlando City – Nicolas Lodeiro

Nicolas Lodeiro completed 107 of 115 pass attempts on Saturday against LAFC, a new career high in his 208th regular-season match after never completing more than 88 passes in a match before.

It was the most passes ever completed by an Orlando player in an MLS match, though Lodeiro may not have as much control for this meeting.

MATCH PREDICTION – CHARLOTTE FC WIN

The pre-match predictions fall in the favour of the home side as Charlotte appear the most likely victors on Thursday.

Charlotte FC went unbeaten in all three meetings with Orlando in all competitions last season (W2 D1), after Orlando won both matches in 2022.

Expect another nervy encounter, however, as all five matches between this pair have been decided by one goal or drawn.

Yet the hosts will be confident as Charlotte have lost only one of their last 19 regular-season home matches, dating back to the beginning of June 2023 (W9 D9).

Only last season's MLS Cup finalists Los Angeles FC (40) and Columbus Crew (38) have earned more points at home than Charlotte (36) over that span, and Orlando are struggling heading into this one.

The visitors have lost eight matches in the 2024 season, one more than they had all of last year.

Yet not all hope is lost given the Lions have lost only one of their last six away from home (W3 D2).

OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

Charlotte FC – 42.8%

Orlando City – 30.5%

Draw – 26.7%

Related items

  • FC Cincinnati v Chicago Fire: Noonan desperate for response after 'flat' performance FC Cincinnati v Chicago Fire: Noonan desperate for response after 'flat' performance

    FC Cincinnati head coach Pat Noonan is desperate to find a remedy for his side's "flat" performance last time out, ahead of Chicago Fire's midweek MLS visit.

    The Orange and Blue produced arguably their worst performance of their season during Sunday's 3-1 home defeat against Charlotte FC.

    Cincinnati will have another chance to respond at TQL Stadium, bidding to remain top of the Eastern Conference standings after a surprise defeat in their last encounter.

    Home head coach Noonan acknowledged his side must perform better.

    "Our first 35 minutes were probably the worst of the year," Noonan said of the Charlotte showing. "We weren't ready, and that starts with me.

    "I have to look at why it was so flat… A lot of poor performances and some avoidable mistakes on the two goals that really put the momentum in their favour.

    "I think the warning signs, in terms of how we've conceded, have been there for a couple weeks now.

    "There was loss of concentration, lost a mark, set pieces again… some things that we will continue to try to find answers to. Yeah, the way we're conceding goals is concerning."

    The Fire, in stark contrast to Cincinnati at the summit, are just one spot from the bottom of the East table.

    Chicago did manage a goalless draw with New York City FC, however, in their last match and keeping them ahead of bottom side Philadelphia Union.

    Frank Klopas' side have accumulated 10 points from their last seven outings, though their away form is the worst in the Eastern Conference – with just seven points from 33 available on the road.

    PLAYERS TO WATCH

    FC Cincinnati – Luciano Acosta

    Luciano Acosta has been the leading light for Cincinnati's attack this year, sitting top of the club's scoring charts with 11 goals from 23 MLS appearances.

    The Orange and Blue forward will be integral once more if the hosts are to down the struggling Fire here.

    Chicago Fire – Hugo Cuypers

    It remains to be seen whether Xherdan Shaqiri will return from Euro 2024 in time for this one, having announced his international retirement for Switzerland on Monday.

    Hugo Cuypers will be expected to step up in his absence again, with the striker scoring nine goals for Chicago in MLS this season – at least four more than any other team-mate.

    MATCH PREDICTION – FC CINCINNATI WIN

    The home side are the dominant favourites for this clash, with the Opta supercomputer backing their victory chances at a hefty 66.1% from their data-led pre-match simulations.

    Cincinnati have triumphed in 12 of their last 15 MLS matches, although three defeats have come in their past eight such outings.

    That trio of losses have all come on their home ground, too, yet Cincinnati will be confident of getting over the line in this one.

    Klopas' visitors have failed to score in their last two outings, and that will only boost the hosts' hopes heading into this midweek clash.

    OPTA WIN PROBABILITY

    FC Cincinnati win – 66.1%

    Draw – 18.4%

    Chicago Fire win – 15.5%

  • Atletico shift Saul out on loan to LaLiga rivals Sevilla Atletico shift Saul out on loan to LaLiga rivals Sevilla

    Saul Niguez has moved from Atletico Madrid on loan to Sevilla with the option of an extension after the 2024-25 campaign.

    Both LaLiga clubs confirmed the transfer agreement on Monday, with each side referencing the "possibility of an extension" past the upcoming season.

    The 29-year-old has started just 25 La Liga games across the last two seasons for Atletico, who are reportedly keen to reduce their expenditure on their first-team squad salary.

    Reports in Spain suggest the midfielder has a three-year offer from league rivals Sevilla, though a complex transfer means the deal cannot be described as a purchase option with the possibility of a return to Atletico.

    Saul made 49 appearances for Diego Simeone's men last season, though starts were limited as Atletico finished fourth in the Spanish top flight.

    He has been capped 19 times by Spain and made 23 appearances for Chelsea, his last loan spell in the 2022-23 season before returning to Simeone's team.

    Saul's addition marks the fourth arrival in Andalusia, with Arsenal's Albert Sambi Lokonga also loaned, along with moves for Chidera Ejuke and Peque Fernandez.

  • Ten Hag slams 'not good enough' Man Utd after surprise friendly defeat to Rosenborg Ten Hag slams 'not good enough' Man Utd after surprise friendly defeat to Rosenborg

    Erik ten Hag slammed Manchester United as "by far not good enough" after their shock friendly defeat to Rosenborg on Monday.

    The Red Devils suffered a late 1-0 loss at Lerkendal Stadion after Noah Holm's 93rd-minute winner.

    An underwhelming performance in their first pre-season game was in stark contrast to their last outing before that, a 2-1 victory over rivals Manchester City in the FA Cup final.

    Rosenborg were denied by the woodwork on four separate occasions while attempting 22 shots to United's meagre five.

    Ten Hag started the likes of Casemiro, Jonny Evans, Marcus Rashford, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Mason Mount, leaving the United boss somewhat furious with their efforts in Trondheim.

    "The result is not secondary. We play pre-season but at Manchester United, there's a standard," said Ten Hag to MUTV after the game.

    "You win games. Definitely, you don't lose games. If you can't win, don't lose the game as we did at the end, the last second of the game.

    "The performance is more important. The performance was below standard."

    Radek Vitek, United's 20-year-old goalkeeper, was forced into seven saves in a one-sided pre-season meeting as the only Red Devils player to impress.

    "Let's say he got the opportunity from the team to make some very good saves because our performance as a team is by far not good enough," Ten Hag responded when asked about Vitek's showing.

    "I have seen this is not the standard for top football. Top football, you have to achieve much higher standards. It starts with any individual, make sure you are fit.

    "I know we can't be match fit in this moment, therefore, you need these games. I know we are playing an opponent who are in their league, they have a much higher fitness level.

    "But still we are Man Utd and players and teams from Man Utd must perform better."

    Ten Hag's only credit from the game was placed on the youngsters who came on at half-time in wholesale changes.

    "They always listen, they try to transfer. We didn't succeed today," the Dutchman said of his younger players.

    "But the attitude, they want to transfer the coaching play model, they are always willing to do it. But it is clear today we didn't transfer it to the pitch."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.