The last 48 hours have been, to put it bluntly, pretty damn terrible for Orlando City.
First, the Lions crashed out of the U.S. Open Cup in the first game they played, losing to Miami FC. Then, just a few hours after the game, leading scorer Cyle Larin was arrested and charged with a DUI and will likely miss the next three to four matches at least.
Now, Orlando will somehow have to get mentally set to take on the Montreal Impact, a team that has been undefeated in four of their last five games and has scored 12 goals in that time frame. The Lions will have home field advantage for this game and Montreal is 1-2-4 away from Stade Saputo. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. on Saturday with the local broadcast on TV27.
Ignoring Wednesday’s result, Orlando is coming off a 0-0 performance against Chicago after being down two players. Rafael Ramos’ red card was unanimously rescinded, but Antonio Nocerino’s was upheld, meaning he will miss this match. Cyle Larin will miss his first match this season, now starting the MLS mandated Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program.
Half the usual Orlando starters were able to rest up from the last league game, especially players in the back line like Scott Sutter, Donny Toia, and Jose Aja. Tommy Redding is also back in the discussion, having come back from a successful U-20 World Cup campaign with the U.S. team that made it to the round of 16.
After playing the last 30 minutes or so on Wednesday and against Chicago, Kaká looks like he should be fully ready to go as well after missing the Minnesota and D.C. games with injury. Up top, Giles Barnes will most likely be the man to replace Larin. Barnes has two goals in his last three games, counting the U.S. Open Cup match.
Currently sitting ninth in the Eastern Conference standings, Montreal has had a very up-and-down season to this point. In two of their last five games the Impact have scored four goals and are currently undefeated in their last three matches (2-0-1). However, the injury and suspension bug has hit the team pretty hard coming into Saturday’s game. Both starting fullbacks, Chris Duvall and Ambroise Oyongo, will miss the upcoming game. Duvall will serve a red card suspension after getting sent off in the Impact’s last match against Sporting Kansas City and Oyongo will miss the rest of the season after getting surgery on a ruptured patella tendon in his knee. Starting striker Matteo Mancosu is questionable with a thigh injury and usual starters Hernan Bernardello and Andres Romero are doubtful for this one as well, dealing with some minor knocks.
Up top for the Impact, Anthony Jackson-Hamel has had a good campaign so far this season. In his third year with the club, he has had a breakout year, scoring four goals in league play and most recently netting the game-winning goal for Canada in its 2-1 win over Curaçao. The two players alongside him, Ignacio Piatti and Dominic Oduro, are very dangerous in their own right. Piatti’s skill and Oduro’s speed can make a powerful combination going forward, alongside Jackson-Hamel up top.
Player to Watch For
It would almost be a given to say Nacho Piatti, given he leads the team with six goals, however I’m going to say Oduro is going to be a player to watch out for. His pace causes problems for defenses and it seems that pacey forwards have given Orlando problems as of late. He also has a history of scoring against Orlando.
Prediction: Orlando City 1, Montreal 1
It remains to be seen how this Orlando side will do without its main striker up top. The team relied so much this year on Cyle Larin that someone will have to step up offensively and score before I can confidently say Orlando can win. Let’s just hope that the team is well motivated after Wednesday’s game and will go out and grab all three points. For now, however, I’ll say Montreal comes in and takes a point from a struggling Orlando side.