This afternoon Orlando City SC will host the New England Revolution. It will be the first match since the road loss at Philly, and it should mark the return of Brek Shea after serving his suspension for the upgraded red card he received after the Portland match two weeks ago. Aside from him, Orlando City was missing Tommy Redding, Cyle Larin, and Cristian Higuita who were all out with injury. Earlier this week Coach Heath was in full "coach speak" mode when talking about whether or not the injured players would return for the New England match.
My hunch is that of the three injured players, Larin is the most likely to be held out. If we remember back to the minor thigh/hamstring strain that Kaka suffered in the week prior to the season kickoff against RSL, that led Heath and the coaching staff to keep him out for a full month. Larin is obviously a critical scorer for the team, so if you are being conservative you would want to keep him out one more match if there's any chance he's not fully recovered.
Who's Back in Purple?
On the other hand, Larin is a decade Kaka's junior and should heal from minor injuries more quickly. So if he's fully healthy he could be ready to play. We will see how much actual insight I have, but I will go on record saying that I think Larin will be in the 18 who will dress for the game, but that Heath will start him on the bench and only put him in for a few minutes near the end of the match if he plays at all. That would make him available for a game that is tied or tight near the end of the match, and it would also limit the amount of time he could be out on the pitch to put more stress on that hamstring if it's not 100%. I would also expect to see Higuita and Redding to be dressed for the match, and I think it's likely that Redding will start since he has been so important to the defense in the early part of the season.
Sizing up the Revs
This week I'm adding another tool to my analysis to see if it will help me make any better predictions. In addition to the rankings according to the MLS Fantasy site, I'm also using the new Audi 100 MLS Player Index. In terms of fantasy points, the top scorer for New England is primary goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth. Suttleworth is coming into the match with two clean sheets, and he saved two PKs in a single game (against Philly).
On the Audi Index, Kelyn Rowe is the top performer on the New England squad (he is sixth on the MLS Fantasy index for Revs players). He enters the match having scored a single goal and registering 6 shots on goal, so look for him to be active around the ball.
The leading scorer for New England so far this year is Diego Fagundez, who comes in only having scored two goals. As a team they've only managed to score 6 goals compared to Orlando City's 9, and New England has also played one more match than Orlando City because they did not sit out the International Break in March. New England also trails in Goal Differential at -2 on the season, while Orlando City SC is at +3.
I think the home cooking does Orlando City some good and they get healthy today with a big win at home. I am going to go out on a limb and predict a 3 - 0 victory for the lads in Purple. After last weekend, it would be nice to see Bendik get another clean sheet, and I think the return of Shea and the continued energy provided by players like Adrian Winter, a seemingly rejuvenated Kaka, and the always dynamic Kevin Molino will help the home team get another important win to keep us above the line and help us climb up the standings.
What about you? Do you think Orlando City will be able to get the win today? Or do you believe the Revs are due for a breakout game? Let me know in the comments below!