It’s about to be a midweek match day, y’all. Orlando City is taking its six-game unbeaten show on the road. The Lions face off against Sporting Kansas City tomorrow to try to stretch that unbeaten streak to seven in a row.
I sat down with Cody Bradley of SBNation’s The Blue Testament and he gave us a little insight about what to expect from tomorrow’s opponents.
It’s been a good year so far for SKC, with the club advancing to the quarterfinals of the MLS is Back Tournament and currently sitting in second place in a tightly contested Western Conference. What has been the key to the team’s success?
Cody Bradley: Well, they don’t feel very successful. The team has strung together a bunch of very poor performances in the absence of striker Alan Pulido. They came out firing on all cylinders to start the season. You know, before the world shut down.
Alan Pulido was brought in as a Designated Player and is the club’s record signing. How has he performed this year?
CB: He started off the season as good as anyone could have hoped for, if not better. He had three goals and four assists while playing every minute of the first eight matches.
Peter Vermes says he was then just given regular rest but then experienced some hamstring tightness that they have been very careful with — as in, not in the lineup for four matches. But he is now “ready to be included” ahead of Wednesday’s match.
What is an area where you think Kansas City can improve? Is there anything in particular that Orlando City should look to exploit?
CB: The SKC defense is not in good shape right now. Vermes has tried countless different combinations across the back four and nothing seems to stick. If Graham Zusi is back out there again, Orlando will follow a trend of opposing teams, and attack that right side.
Are there any injuries or suspensions that will keep players unavailable for selection? What is your projected starting lineup and score prediction?
CB: Hard to say at the moment, but I think Roger Espinoza is still out. And of course, Felipe Gutierrez is out for the season. Gianluca Busio will serve a suspension for yellow card accumulation. I’m going optimistic about the rest, leaving us with this lineup:
Tim Melia; Amadou Día, Roberto Puncec, Matt Besler, Graham Zusi; Ilie Sanchez, Felipe Hernandez, Gadi Kinda, Khiry Shelton; Alan Pulido, Johnny Russell.
[No score prediction provided.]
Thank you to Cody for giving us a preview of Sporting Kansas City.