Additionally, three players from the first team were sent to OCB on loan for this weekend's match:
- Tommy Redding - Redding is recovering from a hamstring injury and is deemed fit for USL play but not yet ready to return to MLS.
- Cristian Higuita - Higuita picked up his 5th yellow card in accumulation in the match against New England last week, so he is suspended from MLS play.
- Mikey Ambrose - Yeah, it's weird--signed to the first team and immediately loaned back to OCB--but this is soccer, so get used to such roster shenanigans.
A Friday tweet by Orlando Sentinel reporter Alicia DelGallo cited the yellow card suspension as the reason Kreis sent Higuita to OCB. But if the coach agrees with many fans that the yellow card he received was unjustified, then this could also be a great way to thumb his nose at the inept officials of PROReferee and give them another chance to get a call wrong against the young Colombian payer while still letting him stay match fit with meaningful playing minutes.
In any case, I think it's a brilliant move no matter what the ultimate reasons. It gives a talented player the opportunity to earn more minutes on the pitch. And since Higuita has the unfortunate habit of getting so many cards (8 yellows and 1 red in 16 appearances for the first team so far this season), the loan down to the USL side may also send a message to the player about where he could be playing on a regular basis if he doesn't fix his attitude problem.
Players to Watch
Seattle is a team in the midst of a bit of turmoil right now. Back on July 26, Seattle and long-time coach Sigi Schmid agreed to part ways after the club struggled near the bottom of the Western Conference table most of the season. In the wake of his departure, assistant coach Brian Schmetzer stepped in as interim head coach. And in a move similar to OCSC, the club continued making player transactions without a full-time head coach. The day after Schmid's departure, the club signed midfielder Nicolas Lodiero, who had a great debut match against the LA Galaxy last week. They have also re-signed Alvaro Fernandez, a former Sounders player who had been away from the team since 2012. Both Fernandez and Lodiero were available for the LA Galaxy match, and presumably will be available for selection in the match against OCSC. And then earlier this week, the Sounders waived second-year player Andy Craven.
Seattle is still searching for a new head coach, and it's likely that OCSC's quick move to grab Jason Kreis has stung the Seattle front office a bit, as Sounders GM Garth Lagerway was with Kreis in the glory years growing RSL into a championship franchise. No doubt if they had any inkling that Schmid's days were numbered Kreis may well have been high on their list of candidates for the job opening.
This week's match will be the first opportunity local fans have had to see Clint Dempsey play for his club at Camping World Stadium. The World Cup veteran and perennial national team star has not had a great club season this year between all of the Olympic and World Cup qualifiers he has had to play earlier in the year.
For the home side, there were some interesting comments by and about Antonio Nocerino out of training this week. For his part, Nocerino said he very much regretted not being able to make a good impression of himself on the fans earlier in the season, and he vowed he would work hard for the rest of the year to earn the support and favor of the fans. As one of those fans whose favor he needs to earn I will say that I'm willing to give him a chance, and if he continues to play better like he has in the friendly vs. Stoke and the match vs. New England, that will go a long way to making me glad he's on our team.
Nocerino indicated that the new formation and position where Jason Kreis has him playing gives him the ability to help bail out any of his teammates who get into trouble defensively. And some of his teammates said that his experience and abilities have really been helpful in the last few matches and are a positive influence even away from the pitch. Before Coach Adrian Heath was fired, I was calling for Nocerino to be cut or traded. But maybe, just maybe, Jason Kreis can bring him around to where we can see him contributing to the team's success. And of course we have not yet even seen Jose Aja, who was on the bench last week but did not play. Perhaps we'll see him get some minutes this weekend.
Under Jason Kreis, Orlando City looked rejuvenated and full of confidence last weekend. I'm hoping that we will see that again this week. But this season has not been kind to Orlando City when facing teams that are struggling. Earlier in the year we faced the New York Red Bulls as they were on a multi-game losing streak and they won the match handily, launching them on a run of form that has seen them climb up the table. Likewise, we faced Sporting KC after they had lost several matches in a row, and we lost one of the more disappointing 2 - 1 decisions of the year to them.
But I think the third time will be the charm. I think Seattle's disarray will be more of a distraction for them, and the home players will be motivated to impress Coach Kreis. I am going to predict a 2 - 0 win for Orlando City, with the newly energized defense helping Joe Bendik record his third clean sheet for the season. Perhaps that's a bold prediction, but I feel a lot of confidence after the way the team played last week.
What about you? What do you think the outcome of the match will be? What are your thoughts on the trades and other personnel changes that the team announced this week? Are you willing to give Antonio Nocerino a second chance to make a good impression, or do you just want to see him traded away at this point? Let me know in the comments below.