Competition: Major League Soccer – Orlando City vs. Philadelphia Union
Venue: Orlando City Stadium – Saturday, March 18 – 19:30 ET (23:30 GMT)
Match Odds: Orlando 19/20 – Draw 5/2 – Philadelphia 5/2
The Lions have had two weeks to prepare for this game following the postponement of last Saturday’s game at New England. That has given Jason Kreis extra time to prepare for the Union but also means that match fitness levels might be inferior to those of the Philadelphia players.
Orlando opened the season with a 1-0 victory over NYCFC to give the new Orlando City Stadium a perfect opening night. Another incredible atmosphere is expected here and the hosts will hope that can inspire them to three more points.
Philadelphia are still looking for their first win of the season after back-to-back draws so far. Their opening 0-0 draw at Vancouver was followed by last Saturday’s 2-2 home draw with Toronto.
The Union led in that game and missed a penalty at a pivotal time but showed good spirit to earn a point after going behind in the second half. They will looking to remain unbeaten this week but will fancy their chances of getting three important points against an Eastern Conference rival.
Both these sides are expected to be fighting for a similar position come the end of the season, with both likely to be fighting for one of the final playoff spots in the East. It might only be Week 3 but this is an important fixture for both sets of fans.
This will be the sixth MLS clash between the two sides since Orlando entered the league two years ago. Philadelphia hold the advantage based on previous meetings, having put up a 2-1-2 record against the Lions so far.
Orlando will be without Kaka as the star man is out for at least another month with that hamstring injury sustained early in the win over NYCFC. Rafael Ramos, Tony Rocha and Kevin Alston are all ruled out with hamstring injuries too. Giles Barnes is set to start his first MLS game for Orlando in Kaka’s absence.
Philadelphia striker Jay Simpson scored on his home debut last week but was forced off with a rib injury just moments after heading in the opening goal. He is a doubt for Saturday’s game as a result, while the same applies to Ilsinho, Charlie Davies and Ken Tribbett. Maurice Edu and Josh Yaro are still sidelined.
Orlando City’s form: W
Philadelphia Union’s form: D/D
Key Stat: Philadelphia have not won any of their last ten MLS games, dating back to a 2-0 home win over SKC in August.
Key Player: Giles Barnes – Barnes wasn’t set to be an automatic starter in this Orlando side following his offseason switch to Florida but has been thrust into the limelight following Kaka’s injury. He came off the bench and grabbed the assist to guide the Lions to victory two weeks ago so the hosts need him to be just as efficient in the final third here.
Orlando City 1-0 Philadelphia Union – This is likely to be a close battle between two sides that know this is a winnable fixture. Philadelphia haven’t won in ten and are unlikely to spoil Orlando’s extended home party on Saturday. The Lions defended well against NYCFC and might be able to earn a repeat result if they can create enough chances without Kaka in the team.