Orlando City is set to begin its 2018 U.S. Open Cup run against Miami United FC tomorrow night. This is just the first round for MLS teams, but Miami has had a difficult road to get here. As is typical with early-round Open Cup matches, the Lions will feature a lineup that will test the depth of the club. Below are some possible starting XI combinations that Lions Head Coach Jason Kreis can put out.
While there are few certainties, there are a couple of things that are likely to happen. Joe Bendik will almost certainly not be in the 18 as he can use the rest. Stéfano Pinho should be starting and could be expected to score at least one goal. There will be, at minimum, a few bench players that have yet to see a decent amount of MLS action in the starting XI. And with the back line as beat up as it is, there may not be many changes to it.
Most of these hypothetical lineups were devised with the assumption that Kreis will stick with a 4-2-3-1 formation that he has used for most of this season, and that the same injury report from this past weekend will carry over. Dom Dwyer, Lamine Sané, Chris Schuler, and Jonathan Spector were all participating in practice yesterday but until I see them not listed on the injury report, I will wait to add them to a possible starting XI.
The “All-In” XI
After last year’s embarrassment, combined with the current losing streak, Kreis may want to prove a point and put out a strong team. An emphatic win will help end the streak as well as instill a certain level of confidence in the squad.
The back line that played against New York City FC on Saturday exceeded expectations. Only Donny Toia was playing in his natural position, and it included two midfielders. The one change to it would be Toia getting a rest and Mohamed El-Munir stepping in at left back.
The two biggest names on this lineup are Justin Meram and Sacha Kljestan, and both might need this game. They have not played particularly well in recent weeks and if they are able to exploit Miami’s defense, it could be a huge confidence booster heading into the Vancouver game.
Another option for Kreis is to go with the young guys. Pierre da Silva could finally get a chance to see the field this season and Josué Colmán could see time in the No. 10 role. It would be interesting to see what this attack can produce with two teenagers as attacking midfielders.
Another option Kreis will have is to use depth but stay with guys that have been around the league. This back four is completely capable of keeping a shutout, while Uri Rosell provides more stability in front of them. Dillon Powers and Jose Villarreal could be loose cannons and make mistakes. Neither has played much this season, but they have a combined total of 212 MLS games under their belts.
The “In a Perfect World” XI
I know that I stated above I wouldn’t list anyone that is on the injury report, but let’s pretend that everyone on the roster was healthy for a minute. Amro Tarek and Yoshimar Yotún are not part of this — not that Yoshi would play in this game anyway — because they are on international duty. Tarek did not make Egypt’s World Cup roster but it should still be too soon for him to play by the time he gets back to Orlando.
This is a good blend of experienced players and guys that need to see more game action. The back four could compete against MLS sides, while the two CDMs have proven they could hold their own. Dwyer and Kljestan would be the first off the bench in emergency situations, but preferably the Lions would be up and Pierre Da Silva and Dillon Powers would come in as subs.