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Jul 5, 2024 5:19 pm

Orlando City guarding against early breakdown vs. D.C. United

martin ojeda

D.C. United and Orlando City have not always had a lot going their way during the past month, but they have shown the ability to string together some offense.

When they meet Saturday night in Orlando, the team that comes up with solid play at the defensive end might end up in the best shape.

Both teams played Wednesday night. Orlando City edged host Toronto 2-1, while D.C. United fell 3-2 at FC Cincinnati.

Orlando notched two goals before halftime, but only after giving up a goal to Toronto FC in the fifth minute.

“These things can happen,” Orlando City coach Oscar Pareja said. “I think it’s something that we have been working on, but it seems like it is not enough yet.”

Orlando City (6-9-6, 24 points) have racked up two or more goals in each of their last four matches, going 2-1-1 in those outings. They’ve scored 10 and yielded nine during the stretch.

“This is a good step for us in this moment,” Pareja said. “Now we’re looking forward to going back home and then winning there.”

D.C. United (4-10-8, 20 points) have gone 0-4-1 in their past five matches, but they’ve scored two goals in each of their past two outings.

D.C. United leading scorer Christian Benteke and coach Troy Lesesne were suspended for the Cincinnati match because of yellow card accumulation, so they should look whole for the Orlando City encounter.

Lesesne said that defender Christopher McVey should be available for half of the match after playing the first half in Cincinnati.

“We’re fighting every single second,” Lesesne said. “But the flip side of that is we have to do better.”

That’s the emphasis from the Orlando City side, as well, because breakdowns have been costly. The focus is being ready from the start.

“Obviously, it’s been happening this season, we’ve gotten hurt in the first couple of minutes,” midfielder Martin Ojeda said.

Orlando City pulled out a 3-2 road victory against D.C. United on April 13, scoring twice late in the match. That included Duncan McGuire’s winning goal in extra time.

McGuire has scored in two of the past four Orlando matches, giving him a team-leading seven goals for the season. The goal against D.C. United was one of just two he scored in a victory this year.

Benteke has scored 14 goals, but no other member of D.C. United has more than two.

–Field Level Media

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