Competition: Major League Soccer – Orlando City vs Vancouver Whitecaps
Venue: Citrus Bowl – Saturday, March 21 – 19:30 ET (23:30 GMT)
Match Odds: Orlando 5/4 – Draw 9/4 – Vancouver 11/5
Orlando will return home for what will be their second game in front of their own fans after a 1-0 road win at the Houston Dynamo last time out, courtesy of that Tyler Deric own goal after good pressure from Pedro Ribeiro.
Vancouver also picked up their one goal victory away from home last week as they beat the Chicago Fire thanks to a late Octavio Rivero goal, taking the new Designated Player’s tally for the season to two from as many games.
That win was an important one for the Whitecaps as they bounced back from a disappointing opening weekend defeat to Toronto FC.
A trip to Orlando this Saturday will pose another serious challenge as the Lions currently sit at the top of the Eastern Conference alongside fellow expansion club New York City FC after both remain unbeaten through the first two weeks.Embed from Getty Images
The home crowd at the Citrus Bowl witnessed amazing scenes two weeks ago as a late Kaka free-kick deflected in to earn a 1-1 draw with NYCFC and they will look to roar their Lions over the line in this one.
Both sides possess quality playmakers in Kaka for Orlando and Pedro Morales for the Whitecaps so we should see an open and entertaining encounter this weekend.
Orlando will still be without goalkeeper Tally Hall (knee) and forward Martin Paterson (groin), while Carlos Rivas (hamstring) and Christian Higuita (groin) are both doubts for the game. Rafael Ramos left training on Thursday with an illness but should be able to play on Saturday. Pedro Ribeiro could start in attack, though Bryan Rochez will also be in contention to start his first game. Aurelien Collin could return to the starting lineup after serving his one-game suspension for the red card picked up in the opening weekend draw.Embed from Getty Images
Vancouver Whitecaps have two injury worries going into the game as midfielders Andre Blake (knee) and Mauro Rosales (ankle) will both miss the trip though injury. Pedro Morales us a doubt as he is struggling with illness but should be in the squad. Sam Adekugbe could start at left-back in place of Jordan Harvey once again after impressing in the win at Chicago.
Orlando City’s form: D/W
Vancouver Whitecaps’ form: L/W
Key Stat: Vancouver Whitecaps have committed more fouls than any other side in MLS so far this season (43). With Kaka on set-pieces, that could prove to be a problem for Vancouver.
Key Player: Octavio Rivero – The Uruguayan forward has made a fine start to life in MLS with two goals in two appearances so far. He could be a real threat for the Orlando defence on Saturday night.
Orlando City 1-1 Vancouver Whitecaps – Both sides are coming into the game off the back of narrow wins and have yet to find any solid form in front of goal. That could lead to a low-scoring but entertaining game and it’s too difficult to separate them on paper ahead of this one.