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With So Many Players Suspended or Injured, Who Will Start For Orlando City at Atlanta?

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No Hines, Kaká, Johnson, Aja, or Carrasco. So who starts?

MLS: Orlando City SC at D.C. United Patrick McDermott-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando City’s 2-1 win in the nation’s capital was bittersweet. Yes, it was the Lions’ first win in nine matches, but it also saw two players, Seb Hines and Servando Carrasco, get sent off, earning them a suspension for next week’s clash with Atlanta. Kaká was also issued a yellow card in stoppage time, meaning he will join Hines and Carrasco in missing out because of yellow card accumulation. And if that’s not enough, Cristian Higuita was taken off at halftime with an injury.

Combined with Will Johnson’s domestic violence charge and Jose Aja’s red card/yellow card accumulation duo last week, Orlando City could be without six players in a must-win away game to keep the club’s bleak postseason prospects on life support. Below I break down what the starting XI may look like, position-by-position.

Goalkeeper:

While Earl Edwards Jr. needs some playing time, the truth is the Lions are only five points behind Atlanta for the final playoff spot. Atlanta does have three games in hand, but its eight games in 3.5 weeks means the expansion side is bound to lose some during a congested schedule. Orlando’s playoff hopes may be small, but they are still there and, as long as there is a chance, Joe Bendik is in the net.

Fullbacks:

There will be no change here. Donny Toia and Scott Sutter will remain the starters for the rest of the season whenever healthy and not suspended.

Center Backs:

Seb Hines did exceptionally well on Saturday, and it is a shame that he is suspended. Tommy Redding also had a good game and there is no reason for him not to be back in the XI. Jonathan Spector was on the bench this weekend, so he should be close to a return. The only other option is Leo Pereira, but I think Jason Kreis goes with Spector and Redding.

Midfielders:

Much of the midfield will remain the same as Saturday. The Lions did not play amazing soccer, and the 62% passing accuracy was atrocious, but the team still did get the three points. If Higuita cannot go, Dillon Powers will fill in for the Colombian. Powers has not seen much of the field since being signed, but this may be the opportunity that he has been waiting for.

Forwards:

Kreis may decide to play Carlos Rivas, but he shouldn’t. Dom Dwyer and Cyle Larin are two of the best attacking options in the league. They combined for a goal on Saturday and it is only a matter of time before they connect again.