Orlando City begins its post-Kaká era this weekend as the Lions will wrap up their third season in Major League Soccer with a trip to Chester, PA, to take on the Philadelphia Union this Sunday at Talen Energy Stadium (4 p.m. ET, TV27).
The Lions sent off their Brazilian captain in his final MLS this past weekend at Orlando City Stadium in a 1-0 loss to the Columbus Crew. Kaká, who played in 75 matches over three years for Orlando, will not make the trip to Philadelphia for the club’s season finale, but will play his final game in an Orlando uniform on Nov. 4 in a friendly against the Puerto Rican National Team to raise money for Hurricane Maria recovery efforts.
It’s been a rough season for Orlando, which jetted out of the gates to one of the best starts in league history. But after the end of April, that team completely vanished and now the Lions will miss out on postseason play for the third season in a row. With nothing to play for but pride, it’ll be one last opportunity in a competitive match for players to show the coaching staff, that they deserve to be here next season, as a surely active off-season for the Lions looms.
Philadelphia is in the same boat. A playoff team last season, the Union failed to create that same run of form in 2017, ultimately missing out on the playoffs as well. The Union will want to win this game just as much as Orlando, if not more, to finish out the season with a win at home in front of the fans that have stuck it out through a disappointing campaign.
It’s the second match-up of the season between the two clubs. The Lions took the first meeting way back on March 18, it was the second game of the new season and Orlando came out on top, 2-1 at Orlando City Stadium, thanks to a Cyle Larin brace.
No Kaká this weekend, as mentioned, but the Lions will be focusing on whether or not Cyle Larin gets back into the lineup before the season closes. The Canadian forward hasn’t started in any of the Lions’ last three games, missing last weekend’s match against Columbus because of a hip flexor injury.
The Lions will be without Will Johnson this weekend. The midfielder returned from suspension due to a domestic violence situation only to see a yellow card against Columbus, earning him a one-game suspension for accumulation.
Keegan Rosenberry has been suspended by Philadelphia because of an inappropriate tweet sent out before the last match. Like Orlando, the Union have plenty of questions heading into the off-season and will be looking to finish the year on a positive note as the club heads into an uncertain winter.
Player to Watch For
C.J. Sapong, like most good players on bad teams, has quietly been good for the Union this season with 14 goals. He’ll be someone the Lions’ back line will need to pay attention to throughout the match and he has hurt Orlando in the past.
Prediction: Orlando 1, Philadelphia 1
It’s tough to get motivated for a game when you’ve got nothing to play for, so I don’t expect this to be the most thrilling match we’ve seen all season, but it will at least be a closely contested ball game.