Orlando City's game this past weekend was nothing short of a disappointment. Both players and Head Coach Adrian Heath expressed their displeasure with the performance in Kansas City, which saw the home team get off 34 shots against the Lions' defense.
Despite the score line only showing a one-goal differential, Heath, who was suspended for the match, told the Orlando Sentinel that, "It's the most disappointed I've been since I've been on with the team. We had a couple of big defeats since I've been in MLS, but sometimes I didn't think the team was as strong as it should have been, but there was no excuse [Sunday]."
In that article Heath also said that changes to the lineup will be coming, which he hopes will get his struggling team results in the next three matches before the Copa América break. With the knowledge of impending changes coming, I decided to take a look at some possibilities in terms of the alignment of the team.
The back line on Sunday was, in a way, a shambles. Constantly under pressure, the defensive line was not able to do much in terms of stopping Sporting Kansas City's opportunities in front of goal. Brek Shea probably had the worst of it, getting constantly beat on the wings and on the few occasions he was able to get forward in the attack, it ended up coming to nothing. Shea also ended up sustaining an injury during the match, which could keep him out regardless of the coaching staff's opinion of his play. That means Luke Boden, who is all healed up from his hamstring injury, would most likely get the starting nod.
Also, if he is healthy, expect Seb Hines to be back in the starting XI. With David Mateos and Tommy Redding having a similar approach to defending, there was a lack of aggression in the center back pairing, something that Hines can bring to the table. Say what you want about Hines not having a good run of games lately, but it doesn't seem that the pairing of Redding and Mateos were well matched to get it done.
After serving his one-game suspension, following a red card vs. NYRB, Cristian Higuita will be back in the starting lineup, while it looks like Darwin Cerén may miss some time after sustaining a high ankle sprain in Sunday's match. The question that most fans are probably asking, is whether or not Antonio Nocerino will be benched? As our own Gavin Ewbank stated yesterday, the Italian hasn't been a good fit with the team since joining up in late February. Even with Cerén possibly out, I think starting Higuita and Servando Carrasco in the defensive midfield wouldn't be out of the question. Since Nocerino has been deployed more as a third defensive midfielder rather than a winger, switching back to the 4-2-3-1 style of play that worked in the game against Portland, the last time the team won a game, is also possible.
If the Lions do indeed go back to the 4-2-3-1, Kaká and Kevin Molino will be shoo-ins to start. With Heath mentioning how his team looked "lethargic and lackluster" on the pitch in Kansas City, the natural response to that would be to bring someone into the starting XI who is full of energy and hustle. Two names that come to mind are Adrian Winter and Carlos Rivas. Winter has done an excellent job to this point in the year creating chances in the attacking third and Rivas' speed is always a threat going forward. At this point, I'm not sure if there's an injury issue with Winter or if Heath is just deciding not to utilize him despite his good form, but I feel that he'll get the nod on the wing come Saturday.
Although he hasn't been great lately, it's hard to argue for someone else to start over Cyle Larin. Júlio Baptista still isn't, and probably won't be, ready to play a full 90-minute game in a demanding role up top anytime soon, so Larin is still the smart choice in this case.
Those are my thoughts on what we could see going into Saturday's match. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.