It's makeup day. Back in March a spring blizzard kept Orlando City and the New England Revolution from playing as scheduled in Boston. Today that makeup match is rescheduled with both teams having to play during the international break and Orlando City fielding a roster that is missing a number of key players that are out for those call ups and other reasons.
There are a total of five or six normal starters for Orlando City who will be unavailable for the match at New England. Richie Laryea and Jonathan Spector are all still out with injuries suffered in recent matches or on the training ground. Cyle Larin and Yoshimar Yotun are out on International Duty. Cristian Higuita will be suspended due to yellow card accumulation. The wild card is Will Johnson. As reported by the Orlando Sentinel earlier this week, Jason Kreis said that Johnson is still in a lot of pain from his sprained ankle, but he put in a full training session on Wednesday. The decision whether or not to play him will depend partly on his recovery from the last two sessions of the week and partly on whether it is worth jeopardizing a more serious injury to Johnson in the hopes of jump-starting a playoff push.
Players to Watch
The road to the playoffs for Orlando City is all but blocked, and the team will have to nearly win all eight remaining matches to have a chance to finish above the line, but they have not shown any signs that they will be capable of doing so. However, tonight's match may offer fans the chance to see some of the younger and less visible players on the roster and assess their potential for the future. The club released some hints at names that may appear in the 18-man roster for Saturday night earlier this week.
- Hadji Barry - The player from local NCAA side UCF is on an MLS contract, but has been loaned out to OCB for most of the season. He has played in 13 games and has scored 8 goals. He has speed and agility, and could make an interesting strike partner with Dom Dwyer either as a starter or in relief.
- Dillon Powers - Powers has appeared only once Orlando City, but he is a five-year MLS veteran and his experience could be pivotal with Yotun out for international duty and Higuita out on suspension.
- Servando Carrasco - Carrasco has been something of a lost face this season, playing in only 11 matches this season. That is fewer games than any time since he joined the club in the middle of the 2015 campaign. Carrasco does have a goal for Orlando City this season, scored at home against the New York Red Bulls in April.
As for the home side, three key players to watch are Kei Kamara, Juan Agudelo, and Lee Nguyen each have 8 goals, and that accounts for over 60% of the team's total in 2017. Kamara always seems to cause problems for Orlando City, and Nguyen is one of the league's best play makers, able to find the teammate with the best chance to score any time he gets the ball on his feet.
Orlando City sits one place above New England on the Eastern Conference table. However, Orlando City has been winless since June 30. New England has lost twice in a row, but that is balanced against three wins in their last six matches. Neither team were originally planning to play this week, and both have some key players out with injury and international duty. The wishful thinking part of my brain would like to think that Orlando City can find a way for all the pieces to click into place the way they seemed to have done for the Pride in recent weeks. But the pragmatist in me says I shouldn't get my hopes up until the team proves they can win. And I'm going to have to listen to that pragmatic side until the team proves me wrong. I'm going with a 2 - 1 victory for New England in this match.
What are your thoughts? Do you think Orlando City can pull out a win today despite the missing players? Or do you think that New England will prevail at home and push Orlando City further down the table? Let me know in the comments below!