The last time Montreal and Orlando City played, the result saw a coach lose his job because of his team's pathetic performance. On Saturday night, we'll see if someone's poor performance lands them on the trade block during the Summer Transfer window. Orlando City's first home match in four league competitions (first in six counting the two US Open Cup matches it has played since the last home MLS match) will see interim coach Bobby Murphy lead the team for the first time in league play since Jason Kreis earned himself a pink slip by not being able to come up with any answers for the team's current six-match losing streak.
Murphy raised some eyebrows among the fan base by going with an unorthodox (for OCSC standards) 3-4-3 formation in Wednesday night's US Open Cup match. The Lions won against a hapless DC United team in a match that started at 7 pm and didn't end until after 11 due to an 80-minute plus weather delay and two extra time periods that led to a decision by PKs. The formation seemed to inject some life into Orlando City in terms of taking more risks of shooting the ball when they got possession deep in the attacking end, but they only put two shots on frame all night, so it's hard to say that the performance was exciting.
Injuries, Internationals, Suspensions, and Players to Pity
Normally I call this "Players to Watch," but in the case of this matchup, both teams are so inept right now that it's probably better to say you should pity anyone that has to wear the kit and take the pitch to represent these two teams. As usual, the stats below include those players expected to be available for selection who have played at least 630 minutes on the season.
- Suspended: None
- Suspended after next caution: M - Samuel Piette
- Injury Report:
- OUT: D - Zakaria Diallo (ruptured Achilles tendon), D - Kyle Fisher (tibia injury), D - Victor Cabrera (calf injury), M - David Choiniere (ankle surgery), M - Louis Beland-Goyette (foot injury)
- QUESTIONABLE: M - Jeisson Vargas (undisclosed injury)
- Offensive Leaders: Ignacio Piatti (5 Goals, 5 Assists, 2.6 Shots/match, 4.2 Dribbles/match), Saphir Taider (2.6 Key Passes/match)
- Defensive Leaders: Samuel Piette (2.7 Tackles/match), Jukka Raitala (3.1 Clearances/match), Rod Fanni (3.4 Interceptions/match, 0.7 Blocks/match)
- Passing Leaders: Saphir Taider (61.1 Passes/match, 0.9 Crosses/match, 5.1 Long Balls/match), Samuel Piette (88% Pass Completion rate), Ignacio Piatti (0.4 Through Balls/match)
- Suspended: M - Cristian Higuita
- Suspended after next caution: D/M - Will Johnson, M - Uri Rosell
- International duty: M - Yoshi Yotun
- Injury Report:
- OUT: GK - Mason Stajduhar (Localized Ewing Sarcoma)
- Offensive Leaders: Dom Dwyer (7 goals, 3 Shots/match), Chris Mueller (3 Assists), Sacha Kljestan (3 Key Passes/match), Justin Meram (2.8 Dribbles/match)
- Defensive Leaders: Cristian Higuita (3.3 Tackles/match), Amro Tarek (2.7 Interceptions/match, 4.3 Clearances/match, 1 Block/match)
- Passing Leaders: Sacha Kljestan (54.8 Passes/match, 1.1 Crosses/match, 0.2 Through Balls/match), Will Johnson (4.5 Long Balls/match), Cristian Higuita (89.8% Pass Completion rate)
Lineup and Score Prediction
My lineup today is partly based on the unorthodox formation Bobby Murphy tried and partly based on just what I'd like to see. I think Meram and Johnson both deserve to sit for a spell because they are too prone to give the ball away or make bad fouls. Otherwise, it might be fun to see Colman and Mueller on the pitch with Dwyer up top. I don't know how likely we are to see this since Bobby Murphy seems to have expressed the widely-held assertion that what we've been doing hasn't worked and we should probably try something different.
Normally, I would feel a sense of optimism going into a match against an opponent as far below us in the standings as Montreal. But in this case, I look at the 15 goals Orlando City has conceded in its last five MLS regular season matches and I think Montreal can have another breakout offensive showing. I said the other day that Orlando City will have to prove to me that they can win in league play before I pick them to win again, and I stand by that. In my mind, Orlando City's problems run so much deeper than the coach and started back when the front office was foolish enough to fire Paul McDonough after the 2015 season. We need a GM and Coach that can work together to build a strong roster, not just bring in flashy names that don't necessarily have complementary skills on the pitch. So I'm going to predict that Orlando City's abysmal form continues and the Lions find a way to lose this match 3 - 1.
Of course, the best thing about this match is that the World Cup will continue on Sunday, so we won't have to think about this team's pathetic performance for long. Continue watching my twitter feed @lionsteethblog every morning of the World Cup to see a lineup of the day's matches. You'll also find @lionsteethblog on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and Google+. Daily World Cup schedules go up before kickoff of the first match; most days that means before 8 am Eastern Time.