Getting to Know the FIFA Schedule: How Will Upcoming 2015 FIFA Dates Impact Orlando City?



If you’re a Major League Soccer fan, you probably know that the league schedule clashes with the FIFA calendar at times. Just remember way back — okay not that far back — to Orlando City’s road trip to Montreal, and you can see what happens when international duties and regular season play tangle up.

With the U-20 World Cup, Copa America and Gold Cup nearing, as well as some international friendlies, it’s time to take a look at the FIFA Calendar and what it could mean for Orlando City.

May 30-June 20: FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand

Matches during competition: 5/30 vs Columbus Crew, 6/6 at Chicago Fire, 6/14 vs D.C. United, 6/20 at Montreal Impact

Absences: Estrela, Bryan Rochez, Conor Donovan

The U-20 World Cup didn't cause as much havoc as we previously imagined. The tournament will only take two players away from OC this summer: Portuguese midfielder Estrela and Honduran forward Bryan Rochez, who will both miss at least four matches for the competition. While center back Conor Donovan was surprising exluding from the U.S. team, he'll be travelling with the youth side as an alternate.

Estrela hasn’t been a factor for the first team this season and his absence will go mostly unnoticed, except when we write about it. Harrison Heath got the start as a defensive midfielder in Amobi Okugo and Cristian Higuita’s absences against DC last Wednesday. The same could be said for Donovan, who’s yet to make an appearance.

Rochez only has six substitute appearances so far, so it's not like the club's missing out on a first XI player. The Designated Player provides depth, but Martin Paterson's return will offset his absence. In any case, getting regular time in a competitive contest like the U-20 World Cup could do great things for a young player trying to find his form in MLS.

June 8-16: Official and Friendly International Matches.

Matches during call-ups: 6/14 vs D.C. United (also 6/6 vs Chicago Fire, even though it doesn't fall on FIFA's official dates)

Potential absences: Brek Shea, Darwin Cerén

The D.C. United match might be the only one to fall during the official dates but the June 6 match against the Chicago Fire is the one to monitor.

The United States vs. Netherlands match — the first contest in the USMNT's double ball-buster trip through Europe — falls on the same date, so Brek Shea could miss it. Shea' absence could cause serious problems for Orlando City, since he's an integral part of the club's attack and there isn't depth behind him. But he's not the only one who might miss the match.

El Salvador plays a friendly against Chile June 5, which means defensive midfielder Darwin Cerén — El Salvador's captain — could miss out as well. I'd consider Cerén a virtual lock for a call-up because of his strong play in recent matches, and because he's the captain. Who doesn't call-up their captain?

Brazil also has a couple of dates (6/7 vs Mexico, 6/10 vs Honduras) and Kaká 's on the provisional Copa America squad (see below), which means he could see time in one or both of these friendlies.

All three have the potential to miss the Fire match, depending on how early they're called up, so monitor this closely.

June 11-July 4: Copa America in Chile

Matches during competition: 6/14 vs D.C. United, 6/20 at Montreal Impact, 6/24 vs Colorado Rapids, 7/4 at Real Salt Lake

Potential absences: Kaká

Kaká 's place on the 30-man squad is enough to set a slight panic to anyone who cares about Orlando City. He's the heart and soul of the attack. Losing him would hurt. But it's only a provisional place, and Dunga has the 23-man pretty much set in stone, so that might not happen. But there's no telling with Brazil, considering there's debate on who selects the squad.

July 7-26: CONCACAF Gold Cup in the United States

Matches during competition: 7/11 vs FC Dallas, 7/18 vs New York Red Bulls, 7/26 at New York City FC

Potential absences: Cyle Larin, Darwin Cerén, Brek Shea and Bryan Rochez.

Gold Cup rosters are a guessing game right now but at least three players have a good chance of playing in North America's top competition. We'll start with Cyle Larin, who's looking more and more like the club's answer at striker every week. Larin has four goals in eight MLS matches and one goal for the Canadian National Team this year. It would be insane for them not to call him up. That would knock out the City's top forward, barring a summer acquisition.

As previously mentioned, Cerén and Shea figure to have busy summers playing for their respective national teams. Both players should be locks for Gold Cup call-ups. If this trio makes it, that's a striker, wing and defensive midfielder gone.

I'm a little skeptical on Rochez playing in the Gold Cup because of his spot on Honduras' U-20 squad, but you never know. It would be another depth hit, but I doubt it would happen, and it probably wouldn't be in either Honduras' or Orlando City's best interest for him to pick up more tournament mileage this summer.

The summer will be the ultimate test of Orlando City's depth. Starters will be in and out for various call-ups and competitions. Adrian Heath will have to shift players and shape line-ups to get the best XI on the field on match day. The end of May, June and July will give supporters a good look at what the club has now and what needs to be done to make the playoffs in year one.


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