After mixed results in openers, Chicago, Orlando City square off
Field Level Mediaon
After a comeback performance in their season opener, Orlando City will look to keep the momentum going when they visit the Chicago Fire on Saturday afternoon.
Orlando was down 2-0 through 58 minutes of last Saturday's match with New York City FC, yet a pair of second-half goals allowed the Lions to escape with a 2-2 draw.
Nani and Dom Dwyer, both second-half substitutes, assisted on the game's tying goal. How much action the two designated players see against Chicago has yet to be determined, as Orlando City head coach James O'Connor is still easing both players into the lineup.
Nani only signed with the Lions on Feb. 18 and was still finalizing contractual details as late as last week. Dwyer, meanwhile, missed much of the preseason due to a quad injury.
"The risk for us is that we start (Nani and Dwyer), and then all of a sudden they get an injury and that's a bigger problem," O'Connor told reporters. "We just need to manage that situation responsibly, which is difficult since everybody wants them to play. So it's just trying to manage it in a way that is proactive in our approach."
The Fire were on the wrong side of a comeback in their opener, surrendering two goals in the final 22 minutes to drop a 2-1 result to the LA Galaxy.
Though C.J. Sapong's 49th-minute marker was Chicago's only goal of the day, the Fire managed 17 shots against Los Angeles. It was a distinct improvement from a club that averaged a league-low 10.03 shots per game in 2018.
Chicago head coach Veljko Paunovic felt his team needed more "killer instinct" to close the game out, but added that the Fire's play in the first 58 minutes was a good omen for the rest of the season.
"We controlled the game, created a bunch of opportunities, clear opportunities," Paunopvic told the media about the game. "If we play like this, I think we are going to have a lot of good games and wins and we are going to be successful again. I am very, very happy with the performance."
The Fire have won their last three matches against the Lions and are unbeaten (3-0-3) against Orlando City since 2015. After Saturday, the two Eastern Conference rivals don't meet again until the season finale on Oct. 6.