With Vancouver ready to face an opponent they don't know that well, no better time than ever to re-visit our "Three Questions With" feature. This time we touched base with The Mane Land, a fellow SBNation blog that focuses on Orlando City FC, to talk about Cyle Larin, the season so far, and turf.
Eighty-Six Forever: How are you guys on playing on turf?
Orlando City is used to fake plastic grass, as the Lions have an artificial surface at their home field, Camping World Stadium. The team is better at home but I'm not sure you can attribute that to the surface, although that may play a bigger role for the visitors than the Lions.
I would say the team does pretty well on turf, mainly due to being comfortable on it from having played on it so often. That said, every surface is different.
Tell me about Cyle Larin. How special is this kid?
He's very special. Although he and the team are in a bit of a scoring funk right now, he's the kind of player that can change a game on a dime, even when Orlando City's been on the back foot for much of the match. He typically stays involved mentally, continues to make good runs, and he's not only gotten better in the air in 2016, but he's also a better passer this year.
Larin's combination of size, speed, strength, and athleticism make him difficult to defend. He can run past many defenders, beat them in the air, or fight them off while maintaining possession. He's faster than he looks, which sometimes causes defenders to underestimate him or take a bad angle to him, which can result in a foul in a dangerous spot or even in the box. He still has some room to develop as a player, which is scary for opponents, and it's entirely possible he'll be plying his trade in Europe in the not-too-distant future.
There's a lot of talent on this club. Why are you only 4-5-9?
There are many reasons that have all added up. Early in the season there was a run of head-scratching officiating decisions that turned wins into draws and draws into losses. The team also hasn't been able to stay healthy and/or un-suspended for enough time to gain much chemistry and consistency on the pitch.
And those out have been key players. Kaká, who has figured in about a goal per game has missed half the season. He's the guy that makes Larin and Kevin Molino even better than they ordinarily are. Midfield stalwart Darwin Ceren is back now but missed several weeks with an injury. Young Homegrown center back Tommy Redding has been a revelation this year but he's out with a hamstring.
Other key losses include Adrian Winter, the team's engine, who moved back to Switzerland for personal reasons, and quality depth midfielder Pedro Ribeiro, who was playing quite well at the start of the year and can fill in to provide coverage in a number of roles: attacking midfield, defensive midfield, or striker.
Lately it could be a lack of direction. Adrian Heath was fired after a horrific 4-0 loss at FC Dallas, but many people don't even realize the team was on a 2-0-3 unbeaten run in MLS prior to that defeat. There is uncertainty with this club from the top down right now. Hopefully a new coach will be hired sooner rather than later so the club has time to gain some stability before it falls completely out of the playoff race.