Orlando City got a reminder of what it’s like to win on Wednesday night as the club downed Miami United in the U.S. Open Cup. The Lions will look to build on that success with a quick turnaround as they travel on one of the most grueling road trips in the league (made slightly longer by leaving from Miami).
There will be a pair of familiar faces waiting for them with the Vancouver Whitecaps. Major 2015 signing Brek Shea has already made his return to Orlando, but José Aja will see his old teammates in his new colors for the first time after being traded away in February.
It’s been a while since these two clubs last met. What are the biggest changes Vancouver has undergone since last season?
Mark Dailey: Vancouver went through a pretty big rebuild over last winter. Gone are some of the key players from the past few years, including goalkeeper David Ousted, left back Jordan Harvey and midfielder Matías Laba. There are new players at virtually every position, with striker Kei Kamara being the most notable signing of the off-season.
How have Brek Shea and Jose Aja fit in with their new club?
MD: Brek Shea has been a pretty good addition to the club, and is one of the two Designated Players currently in the squad. Shea has been very effective off the bench this season, and has scored several match-winning goals. Aja’s start with the Whitecaps was a little quieter, and has only become a regular in the past month or so. He has formed a very good partnership with Kendall Waston, but with Waston away on World Cup duty with Costa Rica, Aja will mostly likely play next to Doneil Henry.
The Whitecaps have struggled defensively, having conceded the most goals in the Western Conference so far, with 28. What has been the biggest reason for the issues at the back?
MD: The Whitecaps have dealt with many issues so far this year, but a lot of their problems come down to consistency and doing the little things right. Also, starting goalkeeper Stefan Marinović has missed several matches because of a knee injury, forcing backup keeper Brian Rowe to take over as starter. Their problems have not been limited to their defensive struggles alone. In past years, to a certain extent they have been able to score their way out of trouble, but this season goals have been hard to come by for Vancouver.
What injuries/suspensions will keep players out this weekend and what is your projected lineup and predicted final score?
MD: Stefan Marinovic (left knee sprain) is out, while Jordon Mutch (hamstring strain) and Marcel de Jong (hamstring) are questionable. Kendall Waston is on international duty.
Formation (4-4-2): Brian Rowe - Jake Nerwinski, José Aja, Doneil Henry, Brett Levis; Alphonso Davies, Aly Ghazal, Felipe, Cristian Techera; Yordy Reyna, Kei Kamara.
Predicted score VAN 2 - 1 OCSC.
Thanks again to Mark for all of his insight.