Because of the international break for the World Cup qualifiers, Orlando City SC will have to wait two weeks for its next Major League Soccer competition after this Saturday’s match against the Philadelphia Union.
On April 1, the club will play its first road match of the year, against Columbus Crew SC. By then, the Lions will hopefully have solved one of their most pressing issues in 2017: the right back position.
Orlando City has three right backs currently under contract in Portuguese Rafael Ramos, American Kevin Alston and Swiss-English Scott Sutter. It happens, though, that none of them was available for the club’s first MLS match for multiple reasons.
The 22-year-old Ramos was one of many Orlando City players to suffer with hamstring issues early in 2017. He got injured during preseason, in the last week of February, and with his recovery timeline set for six weeks, it is not likely that the Portuguese will be ready to play before the April 9 match-up against the New York Red Bulls. Indeed, he was placed on the Disabled List, which means he’d miss six games.
Alston, who was also sidelined because of a hamstring injury, is very likely to be available, though. The 28-year-old veteran trained in full last Tuesday according to a report from the Orlando Sentinel, but Head Coach Jason Kreis isn’t likely to start him against the Philadelphia Union today. With two weeks until the match against Crew SC, there is no reason to believe Alston wouldn’t be able to see the field in Ohio.
Scott Sutter is another player who will take advantage of the two-week break. The 30-year-old fullback was signed from BSC Young Boys on March 3 and tweeted yesterday that he was on his way to Orlando. As he was recently playing for his former club, the defensive-minded right back should be able to be used by Kreis against Crew SC.
Orlando......I'm on my way! ✈️— Scott Sutter (@scott_sutter) 17 de março de 2017
Having a right back available, whether it is Alston or Sutter, will also lead to other important changes in Orlando City’s lineup against Crew SC. Will Johnson, who is currently playing the position, will be able to slide to his original defensive midfielder role, and pair with Antonio Nocerino to both shield the Lions’ back line and help out with distribution.
With more pieces available, it’s expected that Orlando City’s team will start taking the shape Kreis expects for the 2017 season.