The post-All-Star-break part of the MLS season gets started Saturday with a slew of games, including Orlando City SC taking on FC Dallas. As the home team, Orlando is only a slight favorite with a moneyline of +129. Meanwhile, FC Dallas is listed at +189 with a draw set at +245.
With the All-Star break behind us, Orlando City is running out of time to make a push for the playoffs. They lost back-to-back games heading into the break and have just one win in their last six league contests. As a result, the Lions are seven points out of a playoff spot, so they are in desperate need of wins.
FC Dallas, on the other hand, is holding onto the sixth spot in the Western Conference. The Toros had two wins and a draw in four games in July to get themselves into a playoff position. However, they only have a two-point cushion to stay in a playoff spot, so they can’t afford to come away empty-handed from any game, even a road fixture.
The Dallas defense has been leading the charge lately. The center back tandem of Reto Ziegler and Matt Hedges has been strong, and goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez has made some impressive saves when pressed into duty. As a result, the Toros have kept clean sheets in back-to-back matches and conceded just one goal in their last four games. Even on the road, there’s a good chance that FC Dallas will remain stout defensively.
Of course, scoring goals is another matter. Dominique Badji, the team’s co-leader in goals, and Michael Barrios, the team’s leader in assists, are both listed as questionable due to injury. The Toros will also be hurt with midfielder Bryan Acosta and right back Reggie Cannon missing due to suspension. Cannon, in particular, is useful in creating scoring chances. Dallas was also shut out in its last game, so goals are at a premium and it could be up to youngsters like Jesus Ferreira and Paxton Pomykal to create something.
Problems at Both Ends
Meanwhile, Orlando is struggling to execute on both ends. They conceded four goals against New England in their last game. The Lions kept just one clean sheet in seven matches during July. They haven’t kept a team other than Columbus off the scoresheet since June 1, so even if FC Dallas is a little short-handed on the attack, Orlando doesn’t have the strongest defensive record.
Scoring has also been an issue for Orlando City over the past month. In their seven games during July, they scored more than one goal on only one occasion. Nani remains a creative threat, and Sacha Kljestan may be able to help in that area. Tesho Akindele broke his scoring drought last time out, but he needs to continue to find the scoring touch if Orlando wants to walk away with points.
One Could Do It
This game has all of the signs of a low-scoring affair. Despite some injury questions, Dallas seems more likely to score a goal than Orlando. Bet on FC Dallas winning on the road Saturday night.