As if there wasn't enough hype behind this game between Orlando City and Montreal. All this week the club has been using the "Make It Count" slogan as well as pushing for 45,000 fans to come to the Citrus Bowl to watch the game. So far, everything off the field is looking to come to fruition, meaning it's down to the boys on the pitch to do their job.
After last week's 5-2 win over the New York Red Bulls, there were some surprising outings from players that have been working to get good performances going. After Seb Hines went down with injury, Carlos Rivas was brought in and did a fantastic job on the left wing, while Brek Shea moved back to the position where he was originally slated to be at the start of the season. In terms of Rivas, Head Coach Adrian Heath praised the Colombian's performance away from home during training on Monday.
"Carlos was really disappointed that he didn't (start) on Saturday (against New York), which is what you expect." Heath said of his DP, "That's what I expect out of all my players, but the great thing from him was his response when he came on. Didn't feel sorry for himself, got his head down and gives me more problems in terms of what am I going to play this weekend."
Throughout this week, the possible lineup changes have been a trending topic with Heath. The team will already be without defensive midfielder Cristian Higuita, who is suspended due to yellow card accumulation, so I'm sure the issue weighs heavily on the coaches' minds. On Thursday, Heath reiterated the possibility for a lineup change tonight, saying, "Obviously we've got a few things to decide before 7:30 on Saturday night; which way we go. Do we change one or two things around, or the shape of the team? But I've got a fair idea in my mind which way we'll go. "
There are some options that Heath may decide to go with. We could see Shea move over to the right wing while Rivas moves into the starting role, or we could see Luke Boden move to the bench and Shea move back to the defense. Meanwhile, in the defensive midfield, Servando Carrasco isn't necessarily a lock for starting in place of Higuita. We all know that Heath loves to plug Lewis Neal into the team at various places, and Neal had arguably one of his best games of the season playing that DM role against D.C. United, so it is possible that Neal reprises that role tonight.
Meanwhile, there is still no confirmation which center back will be making the start tonight. Despite having a dislocated shoulder, Seb Hines has been training with the team almost every day this week, while David Mateos has also been in training most of the time. Depending on who starts for Montreal up front will most likely determine the center back pairing. Hines is a bit more quick on his feet than Mateos, who still may not be 100% with his hamstring that he pulled during warm-ups last week.
Whatever Heath and the coaching staff come up with for this game, it's just nice to have some options to choose from. I'm sure that the staff is tired of having to field a lineup of only available players. For this game, it looks like just about every player will be available for selection in this pivotal playoff-like game. Now all we need to do is grab three points at home to stay in the hunt for the sixth spot in the playoffs.