The Seattle Sounders host Orlando City in a midweek match before heading out on the road to play some tough teams. Orlando won’t be a walk in the park, though. We asked The Mane Land some questions about their team.
Sounder at Heart: Orlando had a historically awful defense last season. This year, it looks like things are much improved. Is that because Robin Jannson is the best defender in the world? If not, what’s the reason for the turnaround?
The Mane Land: I think there a couple reasons for the improvement. As you mentioned, Jannson has been pretty good for the most part, although last game was one to forget for him. Outside of that though, James O’Connor was able to spend the offseason bringing in guys that he wanted, and had the time he needed to work with them. So while holdovers from the previous regime like Lamine Sané have continued to feature heavily, other guys that O’Connor brought in, like Ruan and Joao Moutinho, have also played a massive part in the improvement. Things are by no means perfect, but better than last year is a step in the right direction.
SaH: Nani is the latest past-his-prime European star to grace the pitches of MLS with his presence. Has he been good? What’s his deal? Will he play tonight?
ML: Simply put, Nani has been quite good, and while he certainly isn’t the player of his Manchester United days, no one really expected him to be, and that’s okay. He’s still bagged five goals and four assists in only eight games, and has very much settled in as the creative hub of the team. His vision, skill, and composure on the ball are still a cut above a good amount of MLS players and he’s helped bring an attacking spark that the team was definitely lacking last year. To be honest, I don’t know if he’ll play tonight or not. He didn’t travel with the team to Atlanta due to a calf injury, but at the time of writing I haven’t seen or heard any further updates on him.
SAH: While improved, it seems like Orlando is still a flawed team. What are some weaknesses that Seattle can exploit?
ML: The biggest problem with the Lions is that they struggle to score goals. Orlando has scored two or more goals in a game only twice all season, which is...not good. The team has only scored 13 goals all season, which is ranked 19th in the league according to WhoScored.com. Again, that just isn’t good enough. In particular, the team struggles mightily when the opposition sits back and is organized and compact. Orlando really struggles to break down teams when they put 11 men behind the ball. The back line also hasn’t been so hot when it comes to defending balls played over the top, so that’s certainly another area that Seattle can look to find an advantage in.
Our answers to their three questions can be found here.