Welcome to your match thread for tonight's meeting between Orlando City (2-0-2, 8 points) and the Philadelphia Union (2-2-0, 6 points) in an early battle for the top of the Eastern Conference.
This is the first of three meetings scheduled for 2016, with the Lions hosting the Union on Wednesday, May 25, and returning to Philadelphia on Sunday, Oct. 16. Orlando City went 0-1-1 in two match-ups with the Union last season, drawing 0-0 in the Citrus Bowl on Aug. 8, 2015, and falling 1-0 in the season finale in Philadelphia on Oct. 25.
The only goal scored in the series so far was a penalty by Sebastien Le Toux in that second meeting, when Cristian Higuita was whistled for a foul in the box. Higuita collected a pair of yellow cards from referee Chris Penso, who dished out bookings like they were Halloween candy, showing yellow to seven different Lions (and three Union players).
After getting Kaká (thigh) back on Sunday, the Lions lost two players during the game against Portland, with Cyle Larin (hamstring) and Tommy Redding (head) taking knocks. Both are out for tonight's match. To make matters worse, the MLS Disciplinary Committee upgraded -- or downgraded, depending on how you look at it -- the yellow card Brek Shea received against the Timbers, making it a red and suspending the left back for tonight.
Look for Luke Boden to step in at left back. Kaká may reprise his role as a false No. 9 that worked so well after Larin left Sunday's game, although certainly Carlos Rivas and Hadji Barry are possibilities to step in for the Canadian. Antonio Nocerino should be closer to full match fitness, as well. Aurelien Collin stepped in for Redding last week, but didn't play all that well. He'll be the man next to Seb Hines, though.
Julio Baptista will be in the 18-man roster but is not expected to start and will play only as much as game circumstances dictate. Meanwhile, for Philadelphia, midfielder Warren Creavalle (red card suspension) and defender/midfielder Maurice Edu (tibia stress fracture) are out.
As we prep for tonight, here is your mandatory content to prepare you for the match:
- Austin Siegel's got your match preview and prediction.
- Our Intelligence Report gives us more about the Union from sister SBN blog Brotherly Game.
- This week's PawedCast has our key match-ups and more predictions, plus an interview with Eugene Rupinski from Brotherly Game.
Orlando City (4-3-3)
It's hard to say exactly how Adrian Heath will attack this Union squad without Larin. I'll predict he sticks with his captain in the false No. 9 role. I also think there's a pretty solid chance Carrasco gets the start with Nocerino on the bench at kickoff.
Goalkeeper: Joe Bendik.
Defenders: Luke Boden, Seb Hines, Aurelien Collin, Rafael Ramos.
Midfielders: Antonio Nocerino, Darwin Ceren, Servando Carrasco
Forwards: Adrian Winter, Kaká, Kevin Molino.
Bench: Earl Edwards Jr., Kevin Alston, David Mateos, Carlos Rivas, Hadji Barry, Julio Baptista.
Philadelphia Union (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Andre Blake.
Defenders: Fabinho, Richie Marquez, Ken Tribbett, Keegan Rosenberry.
Defensive Midfielders: Brian Carroll, Vincent Nogueira.
Attacking Midfielders: Chris Pontius, Roland Alberg, Sebastien Le Toux.
Forward: C.J. Sapong.
Bench: Matthew Jones, Raymon Gaddis, Anderson Conceicao, Fabian Herbers, Tranquillo Barnetta,Leo Fernandez, Walter Restrepo.
Ref: Jair Marrufo
AR1: Peter Balciunas
AR2: Daniel Belleau
4th: Rubiel Vazquez
How to Watch
Match Time: 7 p.m. (ET).
Venue: Talen Energy Stadium -- Chester, PA
Radio: 104.1 FM Real Radio (English), La Grande 1030 (Spanish).
Streaming: MLS Live.
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