D.C. United at Orlando City game preview
Orlando City has one last chance this year to prove that it can beat D.C. United, and the expansion club is in a confident mood.
It looks to stretch its unbeaten run to five games Sunday night at home against the Eastern Conference leaders.
D.C. (8-4-4) can sweep the season series after using late goals to win 1-0 on April 3 and 2-1 on May 13. Luis Silva scored in the first minute of stoppage time in the first meeting and Chris Rolfe had the eventual winning goal in the 79th in the second matchup.
"It is good because we know already how they play," Orlando City midfielder Kaka told the league's official website. "Every game is different, and I'm sure that will be the case on Sunday. And we hope the outcome will be different, too. But we do have some experience with D.C. United, and we just have to make sure we work on some of the details that cost us the game last time."
While the Brazilian star was diplomatic, it is clear that Orlando City (4-5-5) is chomping at the bit to beat the team with a conference-best 28 points.
Defender Aurelien Collin told the team's official website that "they (D.C.) got lucky twice," and coach Adrian Heath said, "I'm expecting us to win."
Orlando will be without Cyle Larin, who is second on the team with five goals and is away with Canada's national team.
Kaka has a team-high six goals, though his streak with at least one ended at three games as he came up empty in last Saturday's 3-2 victory at Chicago. Orlando improved to 2-0-2 in its last four.
He'll be a marked man Sunday after D.C. allowed another international star to virtually single-handedly beat the club last Saturday, conceding twice to Italian forward Sebastian Giovinco in a 2-1 home defeat to Toronto FC.
Coach Ben Olsen doesn't believe there is a tactical plan to slow down players like Kaka and Giovinco.
"They've made a living off of finding holes, finding ways to exploit defenses, do the most with little touches; if everybody's keying in on them, it just makes their play and execution level higher," Olsen said.
United may have a trio of injured players available. Midfielder Chris Pontius (hip), defender Chris Korb (hamstring) and goalkeeper Bill Hamid (finger) all trained Friday, though Olsen did not say if they will play.
D.C. conceded the first goal in six straight games before defender Steve Birnbaum gave it the lead last weekend with his first career tally.
"It's good to kind of get that one on the way, I feel like it's been coming for a while," he said. "I've missed a lot of chances lately so it feels good to get one and then hopefully it'll just keep rolling."
Jairo Arrieta leads D.C. with five goals and Rolfe is second with four. Playmaker Fabian Espindola has three assists in his last two games and will face Orlando City for the first time after previously being out with a knee injury.
"It's another big plus for them having another forward of his caliber to come back," Heath said.