Following a 4-0 loss in Chicago on Saturday night, Orlando City returns to the site of Kaká’s first MLS red card almost two years ago to the day when the Lions take on Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium this evening (9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).
Three days after capturing a point in Seattle, Orlando found itself in a much less successful situation against one of the hottest teams in the league. The Lions let David Accam pick up his first MLS hat trick, suffering their first loss in four games this month after drawing the previous three.
Now, the Lions head to Utah to take on RSL, one of the worst teams in the league this season, one which fired its head coach just three games into the season. Now coached by former New York Red Bulls boss Mike Petke, RSL comes into the match off of a 2-1 loss at San Jose over the weekend. It currently holds the league’s worst goal differential (-20), but has won three straight home matches after taking all three points in just one of its first five at home this season.
For Orlando City Head Coach Jason Kreis, the trip also marks a return to Rio Tinto Stadium, which he left after the 2013 season to take over the New York City FC head coaching position. A win on the road against his former club, at this time especially, would likely cap off a good night for the Lions’ gaffer.
Note: Carlos Rivas is day-to-day with an ankle injury. If he can’t go, look for Giles Barnes to push up alongside Larin and Cristian Higuita to return to the left side of the diamond.
The big news coming out of the Orlando City camp this week — two big news items, actually — starts with the return of Cyle Larin, who was cleared to return to all team activities by Major League Soccer earlier in the week after completing the league’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health (SABH) course. After missing the club’s last three games, Larin will be eligible for selection this evening, and the Lions will surely be excited to have their leading scorer back, having scored just four goals in their last three games.
The second piece of roster news comes from Matias Perez Garcia, who was waived by the team on Wednesday ahead of his contract expiring this evening. The two sides could not come to an agreement on a contract extension, and the Argentine midfielder was forced to move on from the club after coming over late last summer. How the Lions move forward without one of their more important midfielders — in terms of minutes played — will be something to watch for in the coming weeks, especially as the transfer window officially opens up.
Real Salt Lake
RSL is not, at least according to the league standings, a very good team. Its home performances have been much better as of late, but don’t let that fool you. Only one other team in MLS has let in more goals than RSL this season. Nick Rimando has been faced with a lot, needless to say.
Yura Movsisyan is the club’s leading goal scorer with five this year. Albert Rusnák follows closely behind with three, and Joao Plata sits with just two. These are still dangerous men that can break down a back line, and will provide more than enough work for Jonathan Spector and company throughout the night.
Player to Watch For
Keep your eyes marked on Movsisyan. He has the most goals for RSL this season, and, if he can be so fortunate as to have the rest of his teammates up for it this evening, it would be an interesting evening against a defense that has had trouble preventing goals lately.
Prediction: Orlando City 1, Real Salt Lake 1
This game has a steady draw written all over it. Cyle Larin will return from his suspension and score a goal with a vengeance.