What to know: Orlando City at Colorado Rapids

Coming off of their 1-0 stoppage-time victory over Inter Miami in the wee hours of Sunday morning this past weekend, Orlando City is on the road for the third of eight games this month as the club takes on the Colorado Rapids at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park (9pm ET, FOX35 Plus; LionNation TV).

The win this past weekend kept the Lions three points clear of the playoff line — and just five points back of the first-place New York Red Bulls — with a little less than halfway to go in the regular season.

Match facts

  • Orlando City hasn’t been to Colorado since March 7, 2020, one week before the country began shutting down to the coronavirus pandemic. The Lions lost that match 2-1 on a 90th-minute goal from Drew Moore, the only loss in six all-time meetings with the Rapids — including three previous trips to Commerce City (1-1-1).
  • With another clean sheet against Miami, Pedro Gallese has tied his MLS career high with seven this season, matching a previous best he set just last year. It was the Lions’ first shutout as a team since May 15 against Toronto FC, snapping an eight-game streak without a clean sheet. With his next clean sheet, Gallese would set Orlando City’s single-season record.
  • Despite posting the best record in the Western Conference last season (second in MLS behind New England), the Rapids have seen their fortunes turn in 2022, as the club has already amassed more losses (eight) than it did across the entirety of the 2021 season. Currently occupying 12th in the West, Colorado is coming off a come-from-behind 2-2 draw at Real Salt Lake this past weekend and is hoping to continue that momentum and snap a skid of two straight losses at home.
  • Orlando City is 8-1-2 this season when scoring the opening goal of the match, including an impressive 3-0-2 on the road this season, vs. being 0-6-1 when the Lions concede the first goal.

Roster notes and injury report

  • Orlando City has signed goalkeeper Javier Otero to a short-term contract from Orlando City; he will be for tonight’s game. This is the second time this season that Otero has been signed on a short-term contract, with that last occurrence happening back in June.

QUESTIONABLE: Adam Grinwis (Right Upper Extremity Injury), João Moutinho (Right Lower Leg)
OUT: Mason Stajduhar (Jaw)
SUSPENSION: None
INTERNATIONAL DUTY: None

Moutinho was seen without a walking boot this past weekend, according to the Orlando Soccer Show’s Austin David.

Predictions and commentary

The Lions certainly haven’t been raising many eyebrows over the last few weeks — at least not in a positive way. Another stalemate against Miami, with just one shot on target, adds to the Lions’ stretch of poor offense lately, having scored more than one goal in a game just twice in the last eight matches (including Open Cup), and only once this season have the Lions scored three times in a game (the 5-3 loss to D.C. United on July 4). Simply put: this team is having a hard time finding the net.

Beyond Ercan Kara (7G, 2A), Facundo Torres (3G, 4A), and Alexander Pato (3G, 3A), the Lions haven’t seen many contributions from the rest of the roster, putting all of the scoring pressure on just a small handful of sources. At this rate, it’ll be tough to see the Lions being able to make much noise when the pressure notches up in the playoffs.

That said, tonight’s game against Colorado is — and I’ve been burned by saying this recently — a game that Orlando should be seen as a favorite to win. The Lions have been better on the road this season (3-2-4) than at Exploria Stadium, and despite the lackluster results of late, they are a better team on paper than Colorado this season.

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