Improving Orlando tough to oppose
Sky Sports 2, 10pm Sunday
New York City should fancy their chances of being crowned MLS Champions later this year but the well-equipped Bronx Blues may struggle to get their season off to the perfect start when they travel to Florida to face Orlando City.
New York City finished second in last term’s Eastern Conference, three points behind their bitters rival the Red Bulls, and an extra season under the care of Patrick Vieira should bring further improvement.
The Arsenal legend inherited a team who had finished eighth in the previous season and steered them to a shot at the MLS Cup playoffs and it’s likely Vieira has learned a lot from that experience.
However, the departure of veterans Frank Lampard and Andoni Iraola could prove costly and, given they won just one of their final eight away games with their assistance, winning this curtain-raiser at an Orlando City side heading in the right direction may prove tricky.
Home advantage in the MLS is simply goldust and with a long season ahead it’s unlikely we will see the best from the visitors at this early stage.
The Lions, 25-1 for MLS Cup glory in 2017, made serious inroads under Jason Kreis at the end of last season and they have lost just once in seven meetings against the Bronx Blues.
A brace from Brazilian Kaka separated the sides in August and his star quality could trouble City’s backline, who shipped 29 times on their travels last term.
The loss of Kevin Molino to new-boys Minnesota United is a blow but in Cyle Larin, who notched 14 times in 2016, they have a striker capable of causing any defensive rearguard in the MLS problems.
New York City should once again finish above Orlando in the Eastern Conference but supporting them to get a result this evening makes little appeal.
1pt 13-10 Coral