OC 3: 5.24.2012 vs. LA Blues
Three key storylines for the match vs. LA tonightTuesday’s 7-0 rout of KC Athletics means Orlando advances to the third round of the Open Cup, traveling to face Sporting Kansas City at LIVESTRONG Sporting Park on Tuesday. As important as that match may be, Orlando’s focus remains on winning the league title. Two important USL games are in front of the Lions before they even give thought to Sporting, with the first against a resurgent LA Blues team.
Check out three important storylines of the match against LA in this week’s OC3.
1 - New opponent, same league - In 2011, Orlando City and the LA Blues did not meet in competition. The distance between the two might’ve been a factor, but nevertheless a match against the Blues will be an entirely new experience. LA is led by Charle Naimo, who is best known for winning USL W-League titles in his two seasons with the Pacific Palisades-based Pali Blues.
The Blues have wins posted over Wilmington, Dayton who just earned a draw against Rochester, and Pittsburgh. Last season they finished with a record of 8-9-7, good enough for third in the National Division. Through six matches, they are almost halfway to last year’s win total (currently 3-2-1 in 2012).
2 - Not losing a match - “The goal is still intact,” said Orlando City Defender Rob Valentino. “As a team, we focus on whatever game is up next. Not losing a game is our goal and it is still achievable.”
Orlando City still does not have a loss on their record so far in 2012, with only an early-season draw against the Richmond Kickers resulting in anything less than a win for the Lions. The team’s goal is still to win every game they play.
3 - More than soccer - La Blues’ Goalkeeper Jose Miranda and Defender Erlys Garcia’s journey to the starting 11 for a USL PRO squad is an interesting one. The two were a part of the Cuba Under-23 national soccer team before defecting once they reached the United States. Former Orlando City star and 2011 USL PRO MVP Yordany Alvarez was also a member of the seven players who left the team hotel hours after a match against the United States.
“Wet foot, dry foot” is a policy that allows Cubans who reach U.S. soil to obtain asylum. Miranda, who started at goalkeeper for the Cuba U-23 squad in 2008, kept a clean sheet in a draw against the U.S. in Group A action the day before he defected. Garcia also played well in the draw, helping the Cuban defense shut out the Americans.
Sometimes, it’s more about what is happening off the pitch than on it. If you see the two player’s names on the match report or twitter feed, be sure to remember how far they came to just be on a professional team roster in the United States.