Tonight my season-long tour of the City Pub partners continues. After having watched away matches in Lake Mary, south Orlando, and on Wall Street Plaza, tonight I'm going to visit Harry Buffalo to watch an away match for the first time. It's a familiar haunt of mine during the week when I attend the Adrian Heath Coach's Show on Tuesday nights.
Tonight's match sees our Orlando City Lions take on the Chicago Fire in Chicago. The match is very important because Orlando City and Chicago are tied on points just below the red line, and a win could vault us clearly ahead of Chicago and possibly into the playoffs by the end of the weekend, pending the outcome of other MLS matches this evening and tomorrow. The Lions will be without usual starter Brek Shea (USA) and occasional bench contributor Bryan Rochez (Honduras), who are out on International duty. Cyle Larin has also been called to the National Team by Canada, but he will be available for the Chicago match before leaving the squad.
We know that Aurelien Collin was on the bench and available last weekend against Columbus, but when Coach Heath was asked about a date we would see Collin back, Coach indicated it was less a matter of Collin's fitness and more a matter of the quality of play from the younger defensive players that are in the matches now. Also, as of yesterday it was reported that Martin Paterson would be held out of the game for a minor knee injury.
There has been quite a bit of speculation who would start for Shea, but I tend to believe we will see Coach Heath be conservative and play Rivas in place of Shea again as he did last week. I know some have been hoping to see Pedro Ribeiro and Cyle Larin starting on the pitch together and see Collin return to the lineup. I would not mind seeing that myself, but I've attended enough of Coach Heath's shows and talked with him enough off air to begin to get a sense that he does not just look at our lads in purple match by match but projects what they can become over a period of months and several seasons. As a fan, the temptation is to want to see the latest "shiny thing" that looks exciting and fun and potentially effective today, but it's a different mindset for a coach considering how to build not only for success today but longer term success in the future.
In any case, come out and join us at Harry Buffalo on Church Street tonight and watch the match. I'll buy a drink for the first person to find me and say they read about the viewing party on the blog. Vamos Orlando--let's go out tonight and Quench the Fire!