Orlando City may now be in the American top tier that is Major League Soccer, but they're in the unique position of being intimately familiar with a number of the lower division teams they may face in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
One such team -- the Charleston Battery -- will be their opening opponent tonight in South Carolina. Orlando is 11-2-1 all time against the Battery, and believe it or not, the lone loss came in the teams' first-ever match in 2011. So, it's an MLS team against a minor league team, that they already dominated when they were in the minor league. Easy win, right? Not so fast.
While Orlando City is undoubtedly the better soccer team, there will be a number of factors against them tonight. First, it's not typical for MLS teams to play a top starting XI in the U.S. Open Cup. Simply put, the MLS season means far more to most MLS teams, and most choose to rest the majority of their starters. "Going to change the team around a little bit," said City Head Coach Adrian Heath on Tuesday. "I have to place faith in a lot of people who haven't played a lot of minutes."
Also, teams are limited to five international players on the roster, which limits a diverse team like the Lions. Not to mention, Orlando will be on the road, against a team that hasn't lost a competitive match at home in just over a year. Not only that, but the Battery will be heavy underdogs, with very little to lose.
Heath has been guarded about who he intends to start in this match. The team is coming off an intense game against D.C. United on a blisteringly hot Orlando evening, so you could argue that every starter could use a rest. Still, Heath has made it clear on multiple occasions that he intends for the Lions to do well in this tournament.
"Regardless of whatever lineup we put out tomorrow night," Heath said. "I fully expect us to win the game and progress."
- Absolutely, totally, MUST read our complete Orlando City/U.S. Open Cup Primer.
- Here's our PawedCast from this week, where we discuss the Battery match.
Orlando City (4-2-3-1):
Goalkeeper: Earl Edwards Jr.
Defense: Luke Boden, Seb Hines, Conor Donovan, Tyler Turner
Defensive Midfielders: Amobi Okugo, Harrison Heath
Attacking MIdfielders: Carlos Rivas, Lewis Neal, Eric Avila
Forward: Danny Mwanga
Bench: Tally Hall, Aurelien Collin, Sean St. Ledger, Rafael Ramos, Pedro Ribeiro
Charleston Battery (4-2-3-1):
Goalkeeper: Odisnel Cooper
Defense: Emmanuel Adjetey, Shawn Ferguson, Taylor Mueller, Obi Woodbine
Defensive Midfielders: Jarad van Schaik, Justin Portillo
Attacking Midfielders: Maikel Chang, Ricky Garbanzo, Navion Boyd
How to Watch:
Match time: 7:30 p.m. (ET)
Venue: Blackbaud Stadium, Charleston, SC
Match thread rules:
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