Orlando City vs. Colorado Rapids: Match Preview, Starting XIs, and Predictions
Following an overall poor team performance in a 2-0 weekend loss to the Montreal Impact, Orlando City (5-6-5, 20 points) are back home in the Citrus Bowl Wednesday night to take on the Western Conference cellar-dweller Colorado Rapids (2-4-9, 15 points).
While this will be the teams’ first meeting in Major League Soccer, they’ve actually met twice before in Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup play. In 2013, City bettered the Rapids 3-1 in a third-round match. In 2014, Colorado defeated the Lions 5-2 in the fourth round.
While there wasn't much that went right for Orlando City on Saturday night in Montreal, one could still say that the Lions have been on an excellent run of form over the past month or so. The Impact match snapped a five-game unbeaten streak, which had vaulted Orlando from outside the playoff picture to its current third-place spot in the Eastern Conference.
Still, City's last two performances have been far from confidence inspiring. A B-side team traveled to South Carolina to take on the USL's Charleston Battery last Wednesday in the Lions' opening match of the U.S. Open Cup, and they barely escaped with a victory on penalty kicks after a thoroughly unconvincing performance. A rest did little good for the starters though, who were mostly ineffective against Montreal. Kaká's mediocre night left fans scratching their heads, while Cyle Larin seemed to have lost the finishing touch that had him tearing up the league in May.
Meanwhile, almost nothing has gone right for Pablo Mastroeni’s Rapids. They haven’t won a league match since May 23 and are stuck in last place in the West, behind ninth-place Houston by five points. Last week, they clawed back to earn a 1-1 draw against visiting FC Dallas in the 88th minute on a lovely Dillon Serna volley.
Speaking of Serna, the 21-year-old Akron product's performance against Dallas was something of a coming out party for the third-year man that Mastroeni has left on the bench for much of 2015 so far. The winger started 18 matches last year in his sophomore campaign, but last weekend was only his second start of this season. He was Colorado's best player against Dallas though, and I'd fully expect him to be in the starting XI again in Orlando.
The biggest concern for Orlando City will likely be fatigue for this midweek fixture. Montreal is something like a 2,300-kilometer trip from Orlando, which I’m told is also a long distance in a miles (‘Murica). Not only that, starters Luke Boden and Lewis Neal also played serious minutes in last Wednesday’s match against the Battery. It’s difficult to see either starting on Wednesday, though I wouldn’t totally rule it out.
Boden creates the biggest issue, as the only other true left back option is Brek Shea, who has been starting at left wing for the Lions. My bet is he shifts back for this one and makes way for natural left winger Carlos Rivas to start. Colorado right back James Riley struggled mightily with Dallas’ Fabián Castillo last week, though he’s likely to be replaced by Michael Harrington in this one. Harrington has been a serviceable MLS fullback for many years, but he’s not a burner and may well struggle with the speedy Rivas/Shea combo. Even if Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath feels that Boden is still fit to start this one, look for Brek Shea to find a way to impact this one from the left wing.
Here's your chance, Dillon Serna. After his performance last weekend against Dallas, including his game-tying goal, Mastroeni will be hard-pressed to keep him out of the starting lineup. He provides a dynamic attacking option for the Rapids, and has scored twice in only 225 minutes so far this year.
The rapids will be in a 4-2-3-1 formation as well, but it’s executed quite differently than Orlando City’s version. While City are prone to pinch in and rely entirely on the fullbacks for width, Colorado is more content to play up the wings and rely on crosses. Obviously, it hasn’t exactly worked well for the struggling Rapids, but the Lions will miss strong-man center back Aurelien Colling in this one, who’s out with a hamstring strain.
Clint Irwin is an underrated MLS keeper, though he’ll regret not doing better on Castillo’s goal last week. While there’s not much star power on the back line for the Rapids, they’re a veteran unit which has done well so far this year despite a non-existent offense.
What to Watch For:
Dillon Serna: Up through the last week or two, Serna was having a disappointing season for the Rapids. Fortunes can change quickly for young attackers though, and a streaking winger (literally and figuratively) is not to be trifled with. Whether it's Brek Shea or Luke Boden at left back, neither is necessarily known for their defensive prowess.
Recently acquired journeyman striker Luis Solignac has had some positive impact for the Rapids, though he’s failed to score yet in five appearances. If the Argentine and Serna can quickly develop some chemistry, it might be enough to energize what’s otherwise been a flaccid Colorado attack.
Brek Shea: It’s become a bit of a worrying routine sentiment heard around Orlando City tailgates: Is this the week Brek Shea finally breaks out? After an impressive opening two months at left back, Adrian Heath saw fit to move Shea back to his natural role on the wing after the season-ending injury to Kevin Molino left the Lions short on attacking options. One can’t argue with the results in the league table, however, Shea is still goalless and often struggles to really leave his mark in attack.
If there was ever a match to break out of his funk, this might be it. The Rapids may well be the worst team in MLS so far this year, and they feature a back line with an average age sniffing north of 30. Not only that, but the Rapids won't get much help from the attack-minded Serna on the wing.
Finally, a match where Orlando City will be the prohibitive favorites! With the Lions' season so far though, that doesn't mean much.
City are the better team here though, and unlike earlier in the year, they now have some reliable, game-tested depth in Eric Avila and Carlos Rivas. The Rapids have mastered the bunker defense though, and their nine draws are by far the most in MLS this season. Don’t say I didn’t warn you if Colorado is able to frustrate Orlando into a 1-1 draw, but I’ll give the Lions the benefit of the doubt and say they rebound after a tough defeat on the road.
Prediction: 2-1 Orlando City
What are your thoughts headed into Orlando's 16th league match against the Rapids? Let us know in the comment section. Be sure to join in on our Match Day Open Thread 90 minutes (or so) prior to kickoff!
The match is scheduled for Wednesday, June 24, at 7:30 p.m. It will be televised locally on My65/Sun Sports and on the Fox Sports GO app. It will be broadcast on Real Radio 104.1 FM and La Grande 1030 AM.
The Mane Land Announces Membership Program
Maximize your Mane Land experience with our new TML membership program while supporting our independent efforts.
Hello, readers of The Mane Land and listeners of our podcasts. Before you start reading this, please note that the most important part of this post is at the end. So, don’t stop until you get to the bottom.
You may recall that when we left SBNation to become independent, we really weren’t sure the best way to go about that. Many of our readers and listeners generously offered to help us make that transition, but we still weren’t sure the best path forward, so we took a poll.
The poll was pretty much split down the middle between those who preferred a one-time, Kickstarter-style campaign (which we did, and those of you who stepped up to help completely blew us away!) and those who favored a Patreon-style, subscription-based membership with extra perks. In fact, the member subscriptions option got a few more votes in our poll.
The folks who took part in our GoFundMe fundraiser were fantastic and are now immortalized on this very site on the “Our Founders” page. But we had always planned to give folks the option to choose whichever method of support they preferred and we tried to communicate that throughout the process. It took a little longer than expected to get up and running, but our membership subscription program is now in place! (You may notice the fancy new banner ad about it on the home page, echoed below.)
Part of that delay was thinking up something that didn’t encroach on the benefits we gave our Founders. Those folks helped us get started and deserve the exclusivity of the perks they got. The other part of the delay is that there just aren’t enough hours in the day. (However, for you guys, I’m willing to be cloned.)
We have utilized the popular Buy Me a Coffee platform to run this program. You can find the basics here. The Mane Land premium membership program includes three tiers of membership, as well as the option to click on the “Support” tab for those who just want to help us out whenever, without joining the program or adding any recurring “appointment-based” payments to their budgets. We love that feature of Buy Me a Coffee (or “Buy Us a Beer” in our case…you drink what you like).
For those who do choose to become members, we hope we have provided value and we are planning to add benefits along the way, in addition to providing special giveaways, events, etc. (more on that below). We have also provided subscription options — with monthly or annual memberships. The annual cost essentially gives you 12 months for the price of 10.
The current membership benefits depend on which level of support you choose — Homegrown Player, TAM Player, or Designated Player level. Each level includes all benefits from the lower tiers, with additional benefits for each higher level.
Homegrown Player: This is a basic set-it-and-forget-it level of support for The Mane Land, providing a way for our readers and podcast listeners to contribute to the success of TML‘s independence goals. We want to compensate our current volunteers, replace lost income of those who previously received small stipends from being part of the SBNation network, add photographers, attract new writers, and expand our coverage. Additionally, each Homegrown Player Level member will be recognized in a Lion Links column, which is still typically our most widely read post of each day and one of the top daily links columns among soccer sites. Homegrown Player Level members will also be included in any future prize drawings we have or events we host and may be subject to future benefits as they are added.
TAM Player: In addition to Homegrown Player benefits, TAM Players will receive a new weekly e-newsletter in their inbox (unless you opt out…some people hate email). These will be informal missives from myself, other TML writers, or a combination, discussing what’s on our mind regarding Orlando City, the Pride, OCB, or soccer in general. Think of it as an extra post from our site that may cover multiple topics. Additionally, you’ll get a 10% discount from our web shop items that we control (presently, that means everything except our listed MLS Shop items). We will definitely have more benefits coming for this level soon and will look for opportunities to include additional benefits as they become available.
Designated Player: This limited availability level of support includes all perks from the Homegrown and TAM levels, but it goes beyond. Your discount at our webshop (for items we control) will be 15% off. Additionally, we’ll send you Zoom links to watch us “make the doughnuts” whenever we record the podcast. This includes when we interview guests. You’ll see how the sausage is made behind the scenes and everything that we say, some of which will end up on the cutting room floor before the final podcast is sent out. This includes both The Mane Land PawedCast and SkoPurp Soccer: An Orlando Pride PawedCast. And after two months of membership you can commission a bonus episode of either podcast simply by letting us know what topic you want us to cover. Think of this as an extended Ask Us Anything. We’ll do a whole show about your topic and you can even join us to discuss it if you wish.
The DP Level will certainly have additional benefits tacked on as we move forward. It is currently limited to 40 members but could be expanded slightly depending on demand and our Zoom attendance.
Future Benefits / Benefits Under Consideration
While we won’t be able to schedule these due to the random nature of items falling into our hands, there will be periodic prize giveaways in drawings that include all of our members, regardless of level. The catch is that you get one entry per level of support, meaning Homegrown Player Level members will get one entry per prize drawing, TAM Player Level members will get two entries per drawing, and Designated Player Level members get three entries for prize drawings. Some of the kinds of items we have come across in the past include match tickets, trinkets, posters, scarves, and so on.
We are planning to add a message board to our website, well…soon-ish is the word that comes to mind. The plan for the message board is to build our community and further the discussion about the club. As part of this, we’re planning an exclusive, members-only area of that message board that TAM and DP members can access. This will be a place our staff can share informational nuggets we can’t necessarily write stories about for various reasons and interact with our members on a daily basis.
Other things in the works include meet-and-greets/watch parties where you can chat with TML staff members and catch a road match with a bunch of like-minded Orlando City/Pride fans while we all cheer on the team together. There may also be other informal outings with one or more members of the staff, organized fantasy leagues, random Zoom calls for Q&A sessions, and perhaps even some organized group outings for Orlando City / Pride matches, national team games, etc.
The Most Important Part of This Post
Remember at the top of this post, when I said the most important part is at the bottom? Well, that seems like a long time ago, now, so it’s OK if you’ve already forgotten.
The most important part of our membership program is you. We want your feedback so we can make this program something that interests and excites you. We want to know what you like and dislike about this program. We want to know if there are some things we didn’t think of that interest you. If you like what we’re offering, tell us! If you hate what we’re offering, we want to know what you’d prefer instead or in addition. If you want to go drinking with Dave, we can probably arrange that, but it’ll be a unique tier and we’ll have to figure out the cost of that.
No idea is too crazy to suggest, even if it’s too insane for us to actually offer. Let us know what you want from your subscription and we’ll see if that’s something we can do. We’ll make it easy for you by putting the form right here below this post, which is now concluded.
Where do I even start? When we were told in January that SBNation was pulling its support of The Mane Land and other MLS and NHL blogs — and many podcasts — I was devastated. The site had become my new baby in September of 2014 and after eight and a half years, I wasn’t ready to let it go.
I was in a pickle. I couldn’t afford to lose the monthly stipend I had been getting from SBNation to manage the site and provide a steady stream of content. It wasn’t that it was a huge monthly sum, but it mostly covered my car payment. That car was purchased when my salary was higher. The pandemic hit my day job like it did to many, and after a four-month layoff, I got my old job back but not at the same rate. So, imagine taking a pay decrease at work and then, on top of that, losing the amount you spend per month on your car payment. There was simply no way to launch The Mane Land independently, I thought, because I simply couldn’t cover the startup costs. Even with some generous offers from the staff to pitch in, there simply wasn’t a way.
Once we took the news public, there was an outpouring of support on social media. We appreciated both the pledges to help out that we got from the community and the signal boosting that the national media gave blogs like ours. Those national folks rely on local reporting for background.
Encouraged by this outpouring of public support, I met with the TML staff and we threw some ideas around. We polled our Twitter followers to see how our community would prefer to show their support. We got pretty close to a 50/50 split between those who wanted to provide a one-time donation via a Kickstarter or GoFundMe crowdsourcing effort, and those who would prefer some sort of premium subscription add-on service like Patreon or Buy Me a Coffee.
We didn’t get a lot of responses to that poll, but we decided as a group that since the results were so similar, we would offer both and let the public choose one path, the other, or even both. (Stay tuned for news soon-ish on the premium subscription level, but rest assured, everything you’ve been getting for free at TML will remain free!)
I was, admittedly, skeptical that we could raise enough startup money to create a private business, pay for hosting a new site and two podcasts (having long wanted to give the Orlando Pride their own unique show), registering a domain, paying for some design work and consulting, and any unexpected expenses that might come up. However, I thought we’d at least give it a try.
Then the amazing Orlando City, Orlando Pride, and TML community got involved. You guys pushed us past our bare minimum goal in just four and a half hours when our fundraiser went live on March 1. We reset our goal and you met that by midnight. We reset our goal again, to the dream total we discussed on our initial staff Zoom chat and you met that by that first weekend.
Stunned. Humbled. Amazed. Touched. All of these words apply to how that made us feel, but they don’t quite cover it. I think we all felt an enormous responsibility, as well. We felt a mandate to provide you the best site and the best coverage we can.
We got everything we needed to run the site for two years, even if we don’t earn a penny after our launch — and we plan to try, via advertising, a Patreon (or similar) program, an online shop, affiliate links, and anything else we can think of. But we decided to leave the GoFundMe open through the end of March, just in case there were folks who wanted to contribute but needed to wait for payday, or if more people wanted to become founding members of this new site.
Now, here we are. You guys did this. We’re here because of you. And this site isn’t quite what it will become. I’m still learning my way around WordPress, after being away from it for years. There’s more to build, and some of the things you’re seeing on this site now will be improved in the future. We’ll continue to tweak it, add things, and upgrade as we go.
For now, I just want to welcome you to your new online home. On behalf of our entire staff, I thank our founding members, who are now immortalized on this site in our founders section. If you weren’t able to contribute to our transition from SBNation’s network to an autonomous and independent, new version of The Mane Land, you can thank the folks on our founders page, because without them, we wouldn’t be here. And if you still want to help out, we’ve got more things on the way.
Intelligence Report: Orlando City vs. Philadelphia Union
It’s Matchday Eve once again, and Orlando City is looking to right the ship after a tough 2-1 loss to Charlotte FC last Saturday. This week the Lions will hit the road and take on the Philadelphia Union up in Pennsylvania.
A date with the Union means I caught up with Joe Lister, one of the writers over at Philadelphia Soccer Now, the new home of what was formerly SBNation’s Brotherly Game. As usual, Joe was extremely helpful in getting us up to speed on Philly.
One of the storylines in Orlando City’s off-season was Andres Perea’s departure for the Union. How has he performed so far?
Joe Lister: He’s done really well. Perea has sat behind Ale Bedoya thus far in the season, but as the Union’s captain exits matches a little earlier this year, Perea has stepped in well. He’s also seen significant minutes in Champions League play, and has been great in all competitions. He’s not fighting for a starting spot, but Perea is exactly what Philly needed: a role player.
Paxten Aaronson and Sergio Santos are no longer with Philly. How have they been replaced?
JL: Frankly, Santos and Aaronson have been the Union’s least important transfers of recent memory. The absence of Cory Burke is felt a little more in the first team, but it’s hard to say that Jim Curtin is regretting letting Santos and Aaronson walk.
In the larger picture of transfers, Philly brought in Perea and Joaquin Torres to boost the attack, and they’ve looked solid this far. Torres has demonstrated abilities at the No. 10 and the No. 9, and Perea, as you know, has huge upside at the No. 8.
Obviously, the Union are competing on two fronts to start the season, which can make it a bit tricky to judge performances when rotation is coming into the mix. With that being said, what are your early impressions of the team this year?
JL: The team is a little shaky. For some reason, the same starting XI that reached the MLS Cup final is struggling to gel.
The attack, more specifically, is having a rough go. It took some time to get forward Mikael Uhre going, but as soon as he did, Julian Carranza picked up a red card. It isn’t pretty right now, and the Union truly looks like a mid-table side in MLS action.
Are there any injuries, suspensions or call-ups that will keep players unavailable for selection? What is your projected starting lineup and score prediction?
JL: That Carranza red card will give him a suspension against Orlando, and goalkeeper Andre Blake may be missing the match due to a grade one adductor strain (though he could be cleared to play within the next few days). The Union will also be missing a bunch of players to international duty. Daniel Gazdag, Damion Lowe, Jose Martinez, Richard Odada, Quinn Sullivan, Brandan Craig, and Jack McGlynn will all be out. I’m no math major, but that adds up to nine absences.
Deep breath, here’s my lineup projection.
This isn’t gospel, but Curtin turned to a 4-3-2-1 when faced with injuries in 2021. My gut is that he’ll try something similar here.
Joe Bendik; Kai Wagner, Jack Elliott, Jakob Glesnes, Olivier Mbaizo; Jesus Bueno, Leon Flach, Alejandro Bedoya; Joaquin Torres, Andres Perea; Mikael Uhre.
With all of that said, the Union just can’t pull this off. The team is missing too many players, and they just don’t look comfortable in MLS. This one goes to Orlando, 3-1.
Big thanks to Joe for getting us caught up on the Union. Vamos Orlando!
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