Competition: Major League Soccer – Orlando City vs. Real Salt Lake
Venue: Citrus Bowl – Sunday, March 6 – 14:00 ET (19:00 GMT)
Match Odds: Orlando 1/1 – Draw 12/5 – Salt Lake 14/5
Both these sides failed to make the playoffs last time around and both have room for improvement heading into the new campaign.
Orlando City drew their opening game of their inaugural MLS season and went on to finish 7th in the Eastern Conference.
Their best spell of the 2015 campaign nearly pushed them into the playoffs at the end of last season where they won five out of six – five of those wins coming on the bounce.
Adrian Heath has made some key additions to his squad and will be hoping his side can make a push for the playoffs this time around – Orlando had a solid preseason, only losing once so they have some good form to build upon.
Real Salt Lake come into the new campaign with optimism and will hope for a repeat of their form at the opening of the 2015 season where they went through their first five games unbeaten – winning twice and drawing three.
Jeff Cassar’s side finished the 2015 campaign 9th in the Western Conference and will want to get off to the best possible start to avoid being in the depths this time around.
They didn’t have the best preseason but this is a chance to start afresh and prove to everyone their not just here to make up the numbers.
They crashed out of the CONCACAF Champions League to Tigres but impressed in the second leg on Wednesday and will hope those games have helped their match sharpness.
Their 2015 season ended with four losses in five outings – a domestic run of form they will not be looking to continue.
Orlando City have no injuries heading into the new campaign. They have made some key signings, with the likes of Antonio Nocerino and Joe Bendick coming into the squad. Devron Garcia is one to watch for Orlando. He has represented Honduras at U17 and U20 level and is an energetic defensive midfielder. He could prove to be the legs Orlando need in the middle and do some of the running to keep key man Kaka fresh this campaign.
Real Salt Lake also have no injuries ahead of this tie. They welcome back Yura Movsisyan – he won the playoffs in his last spell with the club and has a record of 20 goals in 81 appearances in MLS. Danilo Acosta also signed for RSL and he will be hoping to make his debut here.
Orlando City’s preseason form: W/L/W/W/W
Real Salt Lake’s preseason form: L/L/D/D
Key Stat: Travel-sick – Real Salt Lake have struggled on the road, losing ten of their last 12 MLS outings away from home.
Key Player: Kaka – The Orlando captain had a solid first MLS season and now is the time to build on that. He may be 33 now but can still cut it. He bagged nine goals and notched seven assists last season in 28 appearances. He will expected to boss the middle of the park here.
Orlando City 3-1 Real Salt Lake – Orlando to get off to a flyer and take advantage of Real Salt Lake’s difficulty on the road. The only meeting between these two last season ended 1-1 but that was at the Rio Tinto Stadium. The Orlando fans will be expecting nothing less than three points and will want to see their side pick up the first opening day win in their short history.