Orlando City's upcoming game against the New England Revolution on Saturday will be a tough one for the Lions for many reasons. The team's still in a slump scoring wise, the Revs are a top-five team in the Eastern Conference, and the Lions will be without multiple players due to injury, suspension or international call-ups. So what will Head Coach Adrian Heath do for this game?
There will only be 21 possible eligible players to play for Orlando at Gillette Stadium, possibly 22 if Seb Hines has healed enough to play by the weekend. Now we're going to figure out who will miss the game, who is available to play the vacated positions, and who will ultimately end up starting.
Who's missing?: Darwin Cerén (international duty)
Who's available?: Servando Carrasco, Cristian Higuita, Estrela, Lewis Neal
Who will play?: Carrasco will be the one filling in for Cerén in this game -- depending on if Heath keeps the same formation -- while Higuita will start as usual. They'll have a tough job trying to shut down Lee Nguyen, Diego Fagundez and Charlie Davies in the Revs' attack. Expect to see Estrela traveling with the team, however, due to the thin bench.
Left and Right Wing:
Who's missing?: Carlos Rivas (yellow card accumulation)
Who's available?: Lewis Neal, Brek Shea (maybe), Luke Boden, Tony Cascio (maybe)
Who will play?: With a lot of Orlando's attack missing during this game, I wouldn't be surprised if Heath moves Boden up and puts Corey Ashe back at left back, now that Rafael Ramos will be back to play. Lewis Neal may play on the right side as he did this past game. Either that, or Neal will play at left wing, Adrian Winter will play right wing and Boden will be back in defense.
Central Attacking Midfielder:
Who's missing?: Kaká (international duty)
Who's available?: Pedro Ribeiro, Danny Mwanga, Adrian Winter, Brek Shea (maybe), Tony Cascio (maybe)
Who will play?: Ribeiro is the natural fit for this spot, since it's his preferred position. However, with Cyle Larin out, Heath may decide to play him up front and have someone else play behind him. Shea would be a good, creative player to plug in this spot for a game, but his playing status is still questionable. Still, I think Ribeiro plays in place of the captain.
Who's missing?: Cyle Larin (international duty), Adam Bedell (in Denmark on trial)
Who's available?: Bryan Rochez, Pedro Ribeiro, Danny Mwanga, Adrian Winter, Sidney Rivera
Who will play?: If Ribeiro plays in place of Kaká, then there will be four players who have experience playing up top. Rochez hasn't really proven himself to be a starter, Mwanga is a veteran who really won't contribute too much for the attack, and Rivera was just recalled from his loan spell in Pittsburgh. I'm going to go with what will probably be an unpopular pick here and say Adrian Winter will play striker. Winter has experience playing the position back in Switzerland and he's shown sparks of creative play in the two games he's actually played in. Without Kaká, the team will need someone up front to help create opportunities to score, and I believe Winter could be a serviceable replacement for that.
Needless to say, the rest of this week in training will determine who will end up playing, but Heath and his staff have a tough week ahead of them for sure.