Orlando City SC plays its first match as a Major League Soccer club today, squaring off against D.C. United over in Bradenton at the IMG Academy. The kickoff, which incidentally will be live streamed on mlssoccer.com, kicks off at 7 p.m.
So what can we expect?
Well, this will probably be a little more like a glorified training scrimmage than a typical match. The teams will likely take multiple breaks, and the game is reportedly going to be in three 30-minute segments. The Lions will be without Brek Shea, who is still with the USMNT, and Kaka, who will be spared from participating after traveling to Brazil and back recently.
Aside from that, the U-20 players returning from the CONCACAF Championships probably won't see much action, either, so don't expect a lot of Tyler Turner, Conor Donovan, Bryan Rochez or Cyle Larin.
For United, defender Steve Birnbaum and midfielder Perry Kitchen are with the USMNT, preparing for Wednesday’s friendly against Panama, and goalkeeper Bill Hamid is recovering from a shoulder injury. Forwards Eddie Johnson, Luis Silva, and Michael Seaton are also all recovering from various knocks.
Lions Head Coach Adrian Heath will want to get his guys on the field and see if they can retain their shape and play his style of soccer. I’m not going to predict a starting lineup, but I suspect we’ll see Donovan Ricketts in goal to start, with a center back duo of Aurelien Collin and The Fridge. Luke Boden will see a lot of the field, as Heath will want to see how he fares against MLS competition. Rafael Ramos will also likely get a lot of playing time.
In the midfield, we’ll get our first look at Carlos Rivas and club mainstay Kevin Molino will get to do his thing. Amobi Okugo will anchor the defensive mid and we’ll see Cristian Higuita and Darwin Ceren quite a bit, with Estrela coming on for a bit. Kaka’s spot will be held down by Pedro Ribeiro. I imagine we’ll see quite a bit of Lewis Neal and Tony Cascio as well.
Up top, I expect to see a lot of Martin Paterson. Rivas and Ribeiro could conceivably find their way up top as well at some point, or we might see SuperDraft prospects Akeil Barrett, Sidney Rivera and Larin, although the latter has only been in training with the team a few days.
United is the defending Eastern Conference champion club and Orlando City has been together since last Friday. I wouldn't expect much of a result, and honestly at this stage the result isn't important. The key for City is to get a run out, work within Heath's system, and (above all) stay healthy. That would be a successful result.
I'm making the trek over to Bradenton. You can catch my live updates on Twitter (@ManeLandMichael) and provided wifi is available, there will be a recap up on our site after the game.