The New England Revolution and Orlando City SC will do battle for the second time in 14 days. While the time between games hasn't been long, don't expect a repeat of the 2-2 draw that occurred on April 17, especially since referee Baldomero Toledo won't be in the middle.
So, what can we expect? The Bent Musket spoke to Michael Citro of The Mane Land to find out.
1. Julio Baptista was a bit of a surprise against New England, drawing an early penalty and causing some matchup problems for the Revs backline in the last game. Are we going to see the big man again and what can Orlando do to give him more opportunities in the final third?
TML: Whether we'll see him is a good question. He didn't play great against the Red Bulls but to be honest, no one did and he was playing central midfield for an injured Kaká. I would suspect if the captain can't shake the groin injury in time for the game, Baptista will reprise his role at CAM. Otherwise, I'd expect him to start the match on the bench and spell Cyle Larin later in the game. (Editor's note: Kaka has been ruled out of Saturday's game)
As far as getting him opportunities, having Kaká on the pitch is one good way to provide service for him. Baptista seems to be developing some chemistry with Kevin Molino as well. The Lions need better crosses from the outside backs to keep teams from packing the middle of the pitch to ward off the likes of Kaká, Molino, and Adrian Winter and until Brek Shea and Rafael Ramos start providing those and keeping the defense honest, the service to the striker will be spotty at best.
1. So that Karl Ouimette non-call aside, what happened last week against RBNY and how did BWP unlock your backline and how do you fix that against the Revs?
TML: The biggest problem was a lack of composure in the defensive half of the field. Orlando defended well one-on-one but after gaining possession, usually gave it right back to New York, and often in the cheapest of ways. So, the Red Bulls just kept coming in waves and eventually found cracks or caught a guy ball watching. Orlando's outside backs and defensive midfielders could not link up with the attacking players due to both poor passing and a lack of movement up top. There was also far too much space at times between the lines and New York's high pressure was able to take advantage of that and turn the Lions over.
One way to fix it is to have a healthy Kaká, who can keep the ball longer and allow plays to develop. Another way is to simply do a better job of maintaining shape and delivering more accurate passes. That's easier said than done but last Sunday was one of the worst passing performances I've seen out of this team in its 40+ MLS matches.
3. The Aurelien Collin trade seems like a big deal, but are the Red Bulls just really desperate or has Collin fallen off a little bit since last season? What are your thoughts on the trade?
TML: It's some of both. New York's back line has been bad for the most part this season and there aren't many good options out there this time of year. If you can pick up a former MLS All-Star and get the other team to pick up half the salary, you definitely take that chance. I'm not sure if Collin has fallen off or if he just never really fit right into Adrian Heath's system. One source told me that one of Orlando's other center backs doesn't really like playing with Collin because he never feels comfortable in knowing where he'll be at any given time.
Collin does like to step up and take chances, and he's a good tackler, league-wide reputation notwithstanding. In fact, if Collin can't win the ball cleanly, he will at least usually put himself in a position to stop the other player anyway. His career hasn't seen as many red cards as most people would have you believe, but he's definitely good for a yellow per game, usually.
I think this trade helps Collin, who still wants to get minutes that he just wasn't going to get in Orlando without an injury to at least one -- and probably two -- players. It also helps Orlando shed about $250K if stories are true regarding the Lions picking up about half his salary, and it opens an international slot. This gives the team more roster flexibility with the summer window approaching. City already has two international players with OCB right now who could be getting first-team minutes if they had enough international slots. And the Red Bulls obviously get a veteran center back. So everyone seems to benefit -- both clubs and the player. That said, we play them again next week.
Lineups, Injuries, and Predictions
The team is mostly injury free but Kaká's groin is a concern and as of Friday we weren't sure what his game status would be. Even if he's a bit iffy, I would think the team wouldn't risk him on the artificial surface of Gillette Stadium, but we'll see. Pedro Ribeiro is still coming back from a back injury and Conor Donovan continues to rehab an ACL he tore last year. Other than that, it's a pretty healthy team overall (for a change).
If Kaká is available, I think it'll be something like a 4-3-2-1 or a 4-3-3 with: Joe Bendik; Brek Shea, Seb Hines, Tommy Redding, Rafael Ramos; Antonio Nocerino, Cristian Higuita, Darwin Ceren: Kaká, Kevin Molino; Cyle Larin.
If the captain can't go, I'd think they'd go with the same five in the back and the same defensive midfielders but perhaps Adrian Winter in for Kaká. Or we could see the same 4-4-2 the team tried against the Red Bulls, where one DM is sacrificed (likely Nocerino) for Baptista up top.
I'm going to be optimistic here and predict a 2-2 draw if Kaká can play and I'm less positive if he's out, giving the Revs a likely 3-2 advantage if he can't go.