A week after losing team captain and leader Kaká, thanks to a red card against Real Salt Lake, Orlando City was dealt another tough blow on Saturday night via the red card, when Luke Boden was sent off late in the match due to a second yellow for a rough -- yet accidental -- hit on an FC Dallas player.
As the Lions get Kaká back against the New York Red Bulls next Saturday at the Citrus Bowl, they will now be without their starting left back, Boden, who has seen a large string of playing time over the past two months since Kevin Molino went down, forcing Brek Shea back up to the midfield.
"I'm not that kind of person to go out there and intentionally try to hurt someone, I'm not that type of kid. So I'm disappointed," Boden said of his red card after the match. "It's never good to get red cards. You know it happened now you can't do anything about it. All I can do is put my head down and work harder and hopefully try and get back on the team."
Head Coach Adrian Heath faces a tough task this week in replacing Boden at left back, as the Lions don't have much depth on the back line at the moment -- Conor Donovan is hurt and out, Tommy Redding hasn't appeared in a game this season, Shea is hurt, and now Sean St. Ledger could miss some time after Tweeting that he popped his shoulder out in Saturday night's 2-0 loss to Dallas.
Heath didn't say much about how he plans to fill that slot after the game, but noted they'll regroup on Monday and talk about it.
"Obviously Brek Shea is no nearer in coming back and now Bodz is going to be missing." he said. "It is disappointing. We will have a look at it."
The safe bet is that Orlando City will get their 19-year-old homegrown fullback Tyler Turner worked into the lineup. Turner has appeared in four games this season for the Lions, making two starts.
"He's a good player, he's played a lot of games for us and he'll do great." Boden said of Turner potentially playing on Saturday. "You can put Tyler anywhere out on the field and he'll have a great knowledge of the game, and he's only 19 years old. So there's no worry at all about Tyler playing."
The problem is that Turner, however, is primarily a right back, where Rafael Ramos is still fit and healthy. Orlando City might switch Ramos to the left back spot, where he played several times with the Lions in the USL last season.
That would do two things for Orlando City:
- It keeps Turner in his natural position, where he'll feel much more comfortable; and
- iI you put Ramos on the left side with Carlos Rivas, you're creating a dangerous attack force that'll make it tough for New York's defense to handle -- talk about extreme pace.
Ramos was a big threat pushing forward earlier in the season, but he's seemed less involved since Molino went down in May and the Lions stopped playing to the right with the more defensive Eric Avila on the wing.
Another -- but far less likely -- option would be moving Seb Hines out to the fullback slot, where he can also play, in addition to center. However, with St. Ledger now apparently hurt, the Lions can't afford to move Hines out of the center back spot, where Tommy Redding is the only other primary defender on the roster. Amobi Okugo and Pedro Ribeiro both played out of position at center back in Philadelphia and could be the "break in case of emergency" options.
Wednesday's friendly at the Citrus Bowl against Premier League side West Bromwich Albion will be a great opportunity for Orlando City to get some different looks from players at left back, while also giving Boden some extra minutes during his extended break before he'll be eligible to return for Orlando's trip to Yankee Stadium in two weeks.
Regardless of how Orlando City lines up in the back next week, this just once again shows the Lions' need to bring in defensive depth this summer with injuries and suspensions continuing to pile up, as Heath will be without one of his best defenders against New York.
"Luke has been, for me, a bright spot this year," said goalkeeper Tally Hall. "Obviously, Orlando fans that have been around know that in the league he was a big and known player coming in. I think he's done an absolute phenomenal job at not just being good enough for this league, but like I said, he's a bright spot on the team. We're better with him on the field."
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What do you think? How should the Lions adjust without Luke Boden next weekend against the Red Bulls? Comment below!