If Orlando City SC is going to snap a three-match winless run against Supporters' Shield leaders Los Angeles FC on Saturday night, the host Lions know this much: They must score more than they have recently.
Orlando (9-13-7, 34 points) was scoreless in its last two games, which were both defeats as well missed opportunities to move closer to securing a first playoff spot in club history.
The ninth-place Lions' 35 goals scored are the fourth-least in MLS and third-least in the Eastern Conference. And they know they'll have to at least marginally improve on that end of the field if they are to close the four-point gap between themselves and the playoff line.
"We have to hit the target," said Tesho Akindele, Orlando's co-leading scorer with nine goals, alongside Nani. "We've got to take better advantage of our chances. I think that's kind of been the theme of the season sometimes, that we haven't capitalized on the chances we've had."
While Orlando edged the total shots category in a 1-0 loss to Atlanta at home two weekends ago, they were more or less dominated in last Saturday's 3-0 defeat at San Jose.
And in LAFC (19-4-5, 62 points), they face another team capable of executing such a manhandling, though coach Bob Bradley could be without several regulars.
MLS leading scorer Carlos Vela (27 goals) remains questionable with a hamstring injury that sidelined him in a 2-0 loss to Minnesota United last weekend, LAFC's first at home this season. Midfielders Mark-Anthony Kaye (Canada) and Eduard Atuesta (Ecuador U-23s), and defender Walker Zimmerman (United States) are among seven players away on international duty.
Winless in two matches (0-1-1), LAFC is looking to prevent its first three-match stretch without a victory all season.
"Throughout the season, whenever we've lost or tied a match, I think we've really focused on the next game, getting back, having a strong response," Bradley said. "This time, there are some extra factors because it's in an international break and we've got all sorts of guys that are getting opportunities with their national teams. But the group that's here is excited. And obviously it means for some players, opportunities to get on the field will be there this weekend."
--Field Level Media