Orlando started the year winning six of their first seven but have stalled tremendously since that early run. The Revs have continued their road slump from last year, totally just three draws away from Foxboro this year.
As always, we chat with our good friend Michael Citro over at The Mane Land. You can hear me talk about the Jay Heaps saga on the “PawedCast” as well as read my responses to Michael’s questions over on their site before we predict a 2-2 draw because reasons.
TBM: Only two wins since June, three wins since May and all of this after winning six of the first seven games. I think I asked this last time but, what in the heck is going on in Orlando?
MC: It turns out, we're bad. Orlando City has had about everything go wrong that could, including two arrests this season. It's just been an extremely weird year in which the Lions have played with nine men on three occasions and actually managed to capture four points in those games. Yet, for some reason, they've usually lost or drawn when they've played well and won when they've played poorly -- except when they've played exceedingly poorly, in which case they get curb stomped. Four times the team has arrived at the host city more than a day before the game and in those games Orlando City is a combined 0-4 with an aggregate score of 0-15. The trip to New England was one of those, as was the Portland game on Sunday.
This team is fragile but it's also capable of playing good football. We just haven't seen nearly enough of the good stuff since the end of April.
TBM: Jonathan Spector is out with a red card suspension so how will the OCSC defense look and how confident are you in that group against the variety of players the Revs can send forward in the attack?
MC: I would say we're likely to see a back line (L-R) of Donny Toia, Seb Hines, Tommy Redding, and Scott Sutter. The Lions didn't have Spector at New England earlier this month and look how that went. Kei Kamara comes after Orlando City like it personally wronged his family and has done ever since he was in Columbus when the Lions entered the league. Whatever the reason, he can't stop scoring against City and I don't think our fan base is all that confident against anyone when Spector is out but especially a guy like Kamara. Throwing in Juan Agudelo, Teal Bunbury, and Lee Nguyen into the mix just makes it even more unfair.
TBM: Noted UConn Huskies legend Cyle Larin has had an interesting year on and off the field but he's still Orlando's leading scorer. Describe Larin's year before and after the Dwyer trade.
MC: Cyle came out guns a'blazing in 2017 and was on pace for his best year ever. He scored the first goal in Orlando City Stadium history in a win over New York City FC and added two more in Game 2 against the Union. Larin posted seven goals and an assist in the team's first 10 games in 2017. He went into a little bit of a lull and then got arrested for DUI, which he was slow in recovering from. It took a few games for Larin and Dwyer to figure each other out but then Larin scored in three straight games and two of the goals were off Dwyer assists. That was before the debacle at Portland at Sunday. He'll need to get hot again quickly over these last few games of 2017 to avoid his lowest goal output as a pro, but he has shown the ability to score in bunches.
Cristian Higuita (calf) has been out since getting hurt at D.C. United two weeks ago. But suspensions are hitting harder right now. Jonathan Spector and PC were both sent off Sunday so they're out. Will Johnson is suspended by the league after his arrest and may never see the pitch again for Orlando depending on how that goes.
Starting lineup will likely look something like this (4-4-2 diamond): Joe Bendik; Donny Toia, Seb Hines, Tommy Redding, Scott Sutter; Yoshimar Yotun, Antonio Nocerino, Kaká, Giles Barnes; Dom Dwyer, Cyle Larin.
Score prediction: Can I pick anything other than 2-2? I think not.