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Orlando City vs New England Revolution: Players to Watch

With some familiar faces gone on international duty, and fresh faces in the lineup, keep an eye on these players as the Lions and Revs meet in a pivotal match in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando City has its hand full tonight as the Lions take on the New England Revolution. Here are some players to watch in a game that is vital in the Eastern Conference playoff race:

Orlando City

Lewis Neal -- I'm not sure I've ever paid so much attention to a player who was so mediocre. Neal is by no means a star; he will be the first to admit it. But it seems like every game this year he finds himself playing in an important role. Today he could wind up being tasked with playing center midfield and replacing Kaká. Neal struggled last week against Chicago, and with so many players missing he will need to turn in a much better performance today if Orlando City is going to get a positive result.

Tony Cascio -- Adrian Heath hinted at the possibility of Cascio making his Orlando City debut in this one. If so, a lot of eyes will be watching him to see how he fits in with the team and what he may be able to contribute. I wouldn't expect a big contribution from Cascio, but anything positive he can give the club in the attack would be a welcomed addition. A back injury has kept Cascio on the sidelines for a long time and he'll want to make an impression.

Servando Carrasco -- With Darwin Ceren away on international duty, Carrasco must replace one of Orlando City's most reliable performers this season. Carrasco is capable of playing well, but it doesn't seem as if he's fully integrated yet with his new teammates, since coming over from Sporting Kansas City. Carrasco has exhibited a better-than-average long ball and ability to switch the field, but he's also given the ball away cheaply in bad spots. Carrasco needs to step up and help Cristian Higuita stymie New England's potent midfield.

New England

Charlie Davies -- Davies has perhaps the best comeback story in soccer. He has fully recovered from the injuries he sustained in a 2009 automobile accident, and has shown it by punching in nine goals this season. His current form has thrown his name into consideration for the USMNT. Orlando City's back line has improved each game since David Mateos has been inserted into the starting lineup, but it will have its hands full with Davies and company.

Lee Nguyen -- New England thrives when the Revs are able to get the ball out wide, and a big reason for that is the play of Nguyen. "MVLee" is the guy who sets up the Revolution's offense, and Cristian Higuita and Servando Carrasco will have their hands full trying to contain him, especially when he gets the ball out wide. They'll have to play technically sound if they are going to protect from Nguyen and New England on their speedy counter-attacks.

Daigo Kobayashi -- Orlando City (for once) isn't the only team missing an important player. Jermaine Jones won't be with the Revs on Saturday, and thus more responsibility will fall on Kobayashi to hold strong in the defensive midfield. Kobayashi is just one of quite a few Revs players enjoying a good run of form, and he won't have as tough of an offense to contend with since OCSC -- already offensively challenged -- is missing so many key players, but he will have to be the leader of that unit if New England wants a positive result.

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That's who we'll keep our eyes on tonight. Who will you be watching? Let us know in the comments section below.