This afternoon the two expansion sides from 2015 will face off for the second time in the season, and for the second time they will be on the pitch at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.
However, the Orlando City side will look very different with the departure of Aurelien Collin to the New York Red Bulls since the last time they played, along with injuries that will keep Rafael Ramos, Darwin Ceren, and Seb Hines out of the match. In addition to injuries, Orlando City will be unable to use Cristian Higuita and David Matteos for the match, who are both suspended for the game. And finally, Kaka is out due to the mid-week call-up to join the Brazilian national team for the Copa America tournament.
NYCFC will also not be at full strength, with Mix Diskerud (USA) and Ronald Matarrita (Costa Rica) also called up for Copa America duty. And unluckily for Orlando City, NYCFC is likely going to come out mad as a nest of hornets after losing their last home match 7 - 0 to cross-town rivals New York Red Bulls.
Possible Lineup Options
For OCSC, it's possible we will see a return of Antonio Nocerino to the starting lineup. This may not be popular with some segments of the fan base, but I was intrigued by how some time on the bench seemed to motivate Kevin Molino to get back on form in the last match when he came in as a sub to add a goal for Orlando City. It's possible that some time on the bench will provide similar motivation to Nocerino and spur him to a little more active and assertive play on the pitch if he has another chance to play today. It's also possible we could see another start by Julio Baptista and the return to the MLS side of Conor Donovan after rehab and some work getting back into match form with OCB.
My head says it's likely Orlando City's depleted roster will be unable to salvage a result from today, but my heart can't bear to pick against them. I'm going to hope for something unexpected from players that haven't seen much action lately, and I'll predict a 2 - 2 draw for Orlando City on the road. If the lads can find a way to come up with a win, I won't complain. And, as seems likely, if they wind up coming away with no points, I sadly won't be surprised.
What about you? What are your thoughts ahead of the match? Who do you think will get a chance to start today? Do you think Orlando City will come back home with a win, a loss, or a split of the points? Let me know in the comments below!