It will be another short turnaround between games for Orlando City after a date with the Philadelphia Union Thursday. The Lions have little time to rest as they head north to take on New York City FC on Sunday.
Ahead of Orlando’s visit to New York I spoke to Christian Smith, manager of SBNation’s Hudson River Blue. As always, Christian was very helpful in helping get us up to speed on the state of NYCFC.
Talles Magno was signed as a Young Designated Player towards the end of May. How has he performed so far?
Christian Smith: We really haven’t seen much of him yet. He’s only had a few appearances off the bench to this point and he’s been sidelined for the past several games due to a knee injury which he’s apparently been dealing with for a while. We’re hoping he can deliver. But right now, we just don’t have the data to know if he’ll be a success or not.
Heber is still sidelined while he recovers from a knee injury. What has the solution been at striker in his absence, and is it working?
CS: In Heber’s absence, we’ve had Taty Castellanos. He was really effective earlier in the year. But recently, he hasn’t been scoring. As a matter of fact, he hasn’t netted a goal in eight straight games. We’ve gotten some production from our wingers, but unless Taty steps up, we’re gonna be in trouble.
At this point in the season we’re beginning to get a better feel for teams and what they’re capable of. What do you think NYCFC’s ceiling is this year? What are your minimum expectations for the team?
CS: Their ceiling is basically as high as they want it to be. The issue is consistency. I don’t think it’s coaching and I don’t think it’s a lack of talent that sees us on the fringes of the playoff race. It’s just certain players stepping up one day, then failing completely the next.
Are there any injuries, suspensions, or call-ups that will keep players unavailable for selection? What is your projected starting lineup and score prediction?
CS: Heber and Talles Magno will probably be out. Sean Johnson and James Sands are still away with the USMNT for the Gold Cup.
Starting XI: Luis Barraza; Anton Tinnerholm, Maxime Chanot, Alex Callens, Gudi Thorarinsson; Nicolas Acevedo, Keaton Parks; Jesus Medina, Maxi Moralez, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi; Taty Castellanos.
Final score: Despite their inconsistency, I legitimately believe NYCFC are gonna pull this one out. I say 2-1 in favor of City.
Thanks again to Christian for the great update on NYCFC. Vamos Orlando!