Orlando City is up against the gun in the MLS Cup playoff race. For all of the Lion success in the US Open Cup, league play continues to be an up and down battle. As of now, Orlando sit in 5th place of the Eastern Conference, but just one point above the playoff line. Just five points separate fifth and 12th place in the conference.
Among the teams chasing the Lions for one of the final three playoff places are the New England Revolution who Orlando host at Exploria Stadium on Saturday night. This is a huge matchup for the playoff race and another huge opportunity for Orlando City to build any kind of momentum in league play.
This Revolution team is almost unrecognizable from the group that set record last season. Reigning MLS MVP Carles Gil still pulls the strings in midfield, creating chances at a superhuman rate and controlling tempo like no other in MLS, but the supporting cast is very different.
New Designated Player Giacomo Vrioni arrived from Juventus to fill in for Polish international Adam Buksa, though he's yet to find his feet in MLS with just 60 minutes under his belt. The winger position is completely different than it was even just a week ago, with the loss of Sebastian Lletget and arrival of Ismael Tajouri-Shradi. There's now a handful of dangerous playmakers out wide for the Revs, plus both Brandon Bye and Dejuan Jones continue to perform as arguably the best two-way fullback duo in the league.
Arguably the biggest loss for the Revolution this year was Matt Turner, who's now the backup goalkeeper for Arsenal. To fill in for the USMNT netminder, New England signed Serbian goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic. It's impossible for anybody to match Turner's level of shot stopping, but Petrovic might be at that level. His underlying stats, especially post-shot expected goal difference (how many goals a keeper stopped vs expected goals), are fantastic and he looks to be one of the better keepers in all of MLS.
Even with all this roster turnover in mind, the Revolution are one of the most disappointing teams in the league. Everyone knew they'd take a step back after last year, but this is nowhere near the expectations for this club. The Revs are currently on a six-game winless streak and have struggled to score goals without Gustavo Bou, who's been out of the lineup with an injury.
Orlando needs a win on Saturday, but the Revs need one even more. This game deserves playoff level intensity as both teams look to find form heading to the home stretch. If Bou is healthy for the Revolution and new additions like Vrioni start to find their feet with the group, it could be a tall task for the Lions, but Orlando has to capitalize on home field advantage