During the week I've posted several columns about the opening match of the MLS season for Orlando City SC. On this weekly matchday post, I'll link back to the stories from the week that didn't change, update the columns where there is some change, cover the late-breaking news, and preview the match.
- Three Points to Victory - no changes impact this column.
- Players to Watch - no changes impact this column.
- Series History - no changes impact this column.
- Tactics & Traps - no changes impact this column.
Sub-in Notes - Updates
There are two updates impacting the club and a third update impacting the match to report from the last 24 hours.
The first news impacting the club is that Orlando City has signed a trialist to a two-year contract. On Friday, the club announced that Chris Schuler will be part of the opening day roster for the club. The 30-year-old Illinois native is a tall (6'4") defender that gives the club more height along the back line. Schuler previously spent eight seasons with Real Salt Lake, including time playing under Coach Jason Kreis.
The second news impacting the club is a suspension for academy product Pierre Da Silva. Both he and Philadelphia Union Midfielder Fafa Picault were suspended for three matches and fined an undisclosed amount for the use of "offensive language" by the MLS. The incidents happened in a closed-door preseason scrimmage between Orlando City and the Union on February 14. Since no further details were released it's unclear if the language of the two players was directed at each other or at officials, and if it was a single event or two separate instances.
Da Silva's suspension brings means that six players will be unavailable for selection for tonight's match:
- Sacha Kljestan - Suspension
- Dom Dwyer - Quad Strain
- Dillon Powers - Ankle
- Uri Rosell - Fitness
- Josue Colman - Quad/Thigh Contusion
- Pierre Da Silva - Suspension
Finally, there was a development yesterday that has an impact on tonight's match. There were gale force winds recorded across the Mid Atlantic and New England yesterday that caused cancellation of two flights that DC United planned to take to Orlando. The visitors are now expected on a 10:00 am charter flight this morning to Orlando. According to the Washington Post, this will mark the fourth time since 2016 that the team has had to travel the same day for matches. DC United is 1 - 2 in those prior matches.
Preview and Score Prediction
Both teams are coming off a very busy off-season, so I'm expecting there to be some disorganization showing, and it's likely to be a pretty sloppy match by both sides. I'm hoping that the Orlando City defense will show some good organization and avoid permitting too many chances by DC United to get good looks at the goal. And with luck, Orlando City will be able to exploit the disorganization of the visitors to get some good looks at DC's goal.
I think Orlando City will be helped by the travel issues faced by the visitors. There is a certain amount of nervous energy that accompanies the season opener for any sport, and the dangerous weather in Washington (wind gusts were recorded above 70 miles per hour yesterday) will likely add to the stress of players and the usual travel jitters that any of them may have. I was leaning toward predicting a victory for the home side, and this development is leading me to predict a wider margin of victory. I predict Orlando City will win the match 3 - 1 and will take all three points on offer.
What is your prediction for the match? Will Orlando City be able to pull off the victory or will the missing players prove too much for the home side to overcome in order to secure the victory? Let me know in the comments below!