It's hard to believe we're almost to the middle of August and there are still Eastern Conference rivals we have yet to face, but that's what's going on Saturday as Orlando City welcomes the Philadelphia Union to the Citrus Bowl for the first of two meetings. The Lions will close their inaugural MLS regular season at Philadelphia on Oct. 25.
Here to help us learn more about our opponents is Eugene Rupinski from our sister SB Nation blog, Brotherly Game. Eugene was gracious enough to give us the lowdown on Saturday night's opponents from Philly in our usual Q&A style. If you'd like to read my answers to Eugene's questions, you can do that here.
Who are three players from Philadelphia that Orlando City fans should know about?
Eugene Rupinski: 1.) Cristian Maidana -- The Argentine attacking midfielder is the creative force behind the Union's attack and is currently tied for second in assists with 11 on the season. His touch, ball handling, and vision are among the best in MLS, and had he have been on a team other than the Union he'd have been an All-Star.
2.) Maurice Edu -- The ex-Rangers and USMNT defensive midfielder has found new life as a center back for the Union. His ability to remain cool under fire is one of the reasons he's the captain.
3.) Brian Carroll -- The veteran defensive midfielder has seen a resurgence this season, proving wrong all those who said he was getting too old to play meaningful minutes anymore -- us included. This is the Brian Carroll we remember in Columbus in 2008 when he won an MLS Cup.
What is the team's preferred style of play and formation?
ER: The Union thrive on the counterattack. The club does best in games where they have less than 50% possession for some strange reason. They play a rather amorphous 4-2-3-1, which can turn into more of a 4-3-3 or 4-1-4-1, depending on the personnel and situation.
What are the Union's strengths and weaknesses so far in 2015?
ER: The Union can score on just about anyone, but unfortunately for them, anyone can score on them, as their league-worst 40 goals conceded can attest to. The defense is susceptible to lapses -- be it allowing a soft goal, failing to mark a man, or giving up free kicks in bad places.
What is your predicted starting XI and score prediction?
ER: Predicted Lineup: John McCarthy; Fabinho, Maurice Edu, Richie Marquez, Ray Gaddis; Brian Carroll, Zach Pfeffer; Tranquillo Barnetta, Cristian Maidana, Sebastien Le Toux; CJ Sapong
Predicted Score: I think the Union are going to be more focused on the U.S. Open Cup match next Tuesday than the match against Orlando. 3-1 Orlando City.
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Big thanks to Eugene for helping us get to know more about our new enemies.