We’ve reached the final four games of Orlando City’s third season in Major League Soccer. After a month on the road, which included two blowout losses, a win, and a draw in front of 70,000 fans, the Lions finally return home this evening when they host the New England Revolution at Orlando City Stadium (7:30 p.m. ET, TV27).
The club’s playoff chances have been at slim to none for all of the past month, and following Sunday night’s 3-0 loss at the Portland Timbers, now it would only take a loss this evening coupled with a New York Red Bulls win at home against D.C. United (also tonight) to officially close the curtain on the team’s playoff chase.
The aforementioned 3-0 loss at Portland killed all of the momentum the team had been building up. A pair of first-half goals sent the team trailing at halftime, then the wheels fell off in the final 45 minutes when Jonathan Spector was sent off with a second yellow card, Portland scored a third goal, and then PC picked up a straight red in the final 10 minutes, putting the Lions down to nine men for the third time this season.
After the match, Head Coach Jason Kreis said the team didn’t show up ready to play in what he also called their “most important match of the season.”
Orlando is meeting up with New England just a few weeks after an embarrassing 4-0 loss at Gillette Stadium on Sept. 2. Jose Aja saw red in a game when the Lions were also playing without Cyle Larin, Yoshi Yotun, Will Johnson, Jonathan Spector, and Cristian Higuita.
Since that match, the Revs have picked up two wins in four games, but were also blown out of the water by Atlanta United, 7-0. But they’re coming into the week off a 2-1 win over the league-leading Toronto FC.
The Lions will be without Spector this weekend after seeing a red card following a second yellow on Sunday night. Spector, who was clearly playing below 100 percent health with a bum knee, was having a rough night right up to being sent off in the 49th minute to begin with. Expect Seb Hines to get the start in his place, as he did come into the match as a sub moments after the red card.
We could see Kaká return to the starting lineup tonight. With the Lions only playing on two days of rest, he would bring a set of fresh legs into the lineup after not seeing any action off the bench on Sunday in his return from a one-game suspension.
Sunday was also a rough night for Dom Dwyer and Cyle Larin, who snapped his three-game goal-scoring streak. The two had a tough time finding each other and quality chances throughout the match. Maybe Carlos Rivas finds his way back into the mix tonight with fresh legs, too?
New England Revolution
While the Revs are coming into this one on short rest as well, they do have the advantage of an extra day of prep, and unlike Orlando, they’re not flying into town from the opposite corner of the country.
The biggest difference for New England since the last time they saw Orlando is that they now have a new coach after Jay Heaps was fired by the club last week. Assistant Coach Tom Soehn has taken over the head coaching duties through the end of the season.
Player to Watch For
Last time, I said to keep an eye on Kei Kamara because of his history of doing big things against Orlando, and sure enough he went out and bagged a hat trick in that Sept. 2 meeting. So, watch him again.
Prediction: Orlando City 1, New England Revolution 1
It’s easy to be wrong about predictions in MLS because this league is so hard to predict sometimes, but this match has terrible soccer written all over it. You have two bad teams on short rest playing mid-week. What could go wrong? A lot.