Welcome to your live match thread for tonight's friendly match-up between Orlando City and EPL side Stoke City, kicking off at 7:30 at the Titan Soccer Complex in Melbourne. It’s a mid-summer friendly between two clubs that signed a partnership deal back on May 6.
The last (and only previous) time the Lions hosted the Potters, the Premier League side eked out a 1-0 victory in front of more than 10,000 fans at the Citrus Bowl. That was back in the USL days for Orlando but the venue tonight will keep the attendance far below the 2012 meeting. Jonathan Walters scored off a Peter Crouch assist in first-half stoppage time for the game’s lone goal. For a "friendly" match, it sure was contentious. There were six bookings in the match, including an ejection for Stoke’s Glenn Whelan for elbowing Charlie Campbell in the 61st minute.
Orlando City is 2-2-0 against EPL sides, with wins over Newcastle (1-0 in 2011) and West Bromwich Albion (3-1 in 2015), and losses to Stoke City and Bolton Wanderers (3-1 in 2011). The Lions are 1-0-0 against the EPL since jumping to MLS, with the aforementioned win over WBA.
I’m not even going to hazard a guess on the starting lineups for this friendly. Both teams will use a lot of players tonight. New Orlando City Head Coach Jason Kreis was initially leery of starting his tenure with a friendly right off the bat, but he said he’s come around a bit on his way of thinking.
"Honestly when I first saw that (there was a friendly his first week on the job) I was a little bit aggrieved," Kreis said with a laugh at Tuesday’s media availability. "I didn’t want to have to deal with a match in the first week -- would have preferred a full week of training. But we’ll approach that match and use it the right way, which I think it could be beneficial, now that I’ve had time to digest it a bit. We’ll use it as a training session. We’ll use it as an evaluation piece to make decisions going forward."
What we do know about the lineup is that Kaká and Cyle Larin will be out, as both are away for the MLS All-Star Game. In addition, right back Tyler Turner is in San Jose for the MLS Homegrown Game. Rafael Ramos (hamstring) wasn’t training as of yesterday and Pedro Ribeiro (back) continues to rehab after surgery. Tommy Redding (hamstring) was jogging lightly off to the side at training Tuesday, while Harrison Heath (knee) also made an appearance but is not likely to be risked. Brek Shea (knee) and Antonio Nocerino ("minor injury") were both on the pitch. Before Shea had come out to the training field, Kreis said his progression from working in the gym to the field would be a good sign of him moving toward being game ready for Sunday.
"I would say it’s about 50/50 right now," said Kreis. "Wish I could give you guys a little more direction with that but the honest truth is I don’t know. If he progresses from the work he’s doing in the gym right now, he’ll come out to training and we’ll move him forward step by step and see where we get."
Look for center back Jose Aja to make his Orlando City debut.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7:30 p.m. (ET).
Venue: Titan Soccer Complex – Melbourne, FL
Streaming: Orlando City’s YouTube page or at orlandocitysc.com/live
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