The unfortunate has happened. Brek Shea, arguably Orlando City's second best player, will be unable to play this weekend's game against Columbus Crew SC due to a sending off in the 53rd minute of last week's game. I'm personally still not convinced that the foul warranted a red card, but there's nothing anyone can do about it now.
So, with Shea now out of the question for Saturday's game, the big question on everyone's mind is: What does Adrian Heath do?
Luckily for the gaffer, there are some options that he can try. The most obvious would be one of Orlando's three designated players, Colombian Carlos Rivas. The original plan before the season started was to have Rivas on the left wing while Shea played as a left back, but due to injuries to Rivas and other players on the team, the plan was altered. Now Adrian Heath could give that plan a real try against a team that Rivas could do well against by using his speed.
Another possible option, and my personal preference in this case, could be the veteran midfielder Lewis Neal. Although he's been injured for the past nine games, Neal has been cleared to participate in full training for this upcoming week and could be ready for playing time.
Having Neal play a position that he is comfortable in, with a player behind him in Luke Boden whom he knows very, very well, could help the chemistry of the team building out of the back. It also helps that Neal is a veteran of Heath's system and could use that to help create chances for other players throughout the game.
These previous solutions are centered around the idea that the formation would stay the same for this game. If Heath so chooses, he could go back to the formation that the team used in Portland, having Amobi Okugo, Darwin Cerén and Cristian Higuita all playing the midfield while Kaká, Cyle Larin and Eric Avila all play forward in a 4-3-3.
Or maybe Heath will go with a 4-4-2 formation, putting Kaká on the left and Avila on the right while having Cerén and Higuita drop a step back. Then, there could be a possible Larin-Martin Paterson combination up top, which could add more of a scoring threat on counter attacks.
There's also the added bonus of midfielder Pedro Ribeiro coming back from injury a bit sooner than originally expected. The versatile Brazilian is able to play pretty much any position that he's asked to, so it's possible we could see him in the starting 11. However, in terms of where he could play, there's too many options to say at this point.
All in all, Heath still has options to plug in for the suspended Shea. With international call-ups coming, the team will probably lose Shea for the CONCACAF Gold Cup in the near future, so this situation, although unfortunate, is a good opportunity to figure out what the team will do when he is away. Now all we have to do is put our trust in "Inchy" and hope it all works out in the end.