MLS Preview and Prediction: Orlando City SC vs New England Revolution

Competition: Major League Soccer – Orlando City SC vs. New England Revolution

Venue: Orlando Citrus Bowl – Friday, May 8th – 20:00 ET (01:00 BST)

Match Odds: Orlando 7/5 – Draw 23/10 – New England Revolution 15/8

Match Preview

Orlando City host New England Revolution in the opening fixture of the weekend at the Citrus Bowl on Friday night.

The Lions are still yet to win at home in MLS and this will no doubt be adding pressure on Adrian Heath with every passing home game without a victory. His side have now lost two on the bounce, including last weekend’s home defeat to Toronto, and they are going to have to put that winless run at home to bed sooner rather than later.

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Orlando have only scored six goals this season and worryingly only found the net once at home in four games. They desperately need Kaka to lead the side and if they can get a positive result here it could spur them on their way to better things in their debut campaign.

New England Revolution are really showing their class and have extended their unbeaten run to seven games after last weekend’s 2-1 home victory against the New York Red Bulls. They sit at the top of the Eastern Conference, racking up 17 points from their opening nine games.

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Jay Heaps and his side inflicted the Red Bulls with their first loss of the season and they will not be taking any prisoners in this tie as he will expect nothing less than three points.

Charlie Davies will be hoping he can kick on after last weekend’s strike which was his third of the season. Goals have been easy to come by for the Revs, with five coming from midfield and seven from the forward line already.

Team News

Orlando City will be without Tally Hall, Pedro Ribeiro, Martin Paterson, Lewis Neal and Tony Cascio through injury. Kevin Molino is out for the season after tearing his ACL, though Rafael Ramos will return after serving his ban. Amobi Okugo is one booking away from a suspension and given Heath’s injury woes he will be hoping he can avoid another caution.

New England Revolution have a near fully fit squad and no suspensions to worry about. Darrius Barnes is sidelined while Daigo Kobayashi could be set to miss out again. Andy Dorman is one booking away from a suspension. Heaps will be hoping for a straightforward win here as the confidence continues to build.

Key Points

Orlando City’s last five: D/L/W/L/L

New England Revolution’s last five: W/D/W/W/W

Key Stat: Orlando’s dreadful home start to their inaugural MLS campaign cannot be ignored, scoring just once and yet to notch a win. It is only a matter of time before their fans will be calling for things to change.

Key Player: Charlie Davies – The in-form forward could be in for a game full of chances if the Revs dominate this one.
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Score Prediction

Orlando City 0-2 New England Revolution – The Revs should come away with all three points but nothing can be ruled out as we have seen on so many occasions already this season. Orlando have struggled to produce at home and a game against the league leader’s will be a real test.

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MLS Preview and Prediction: Orlando City vs Toronto FC

Competition: Major League Soccer – Orlando City SC vs. Toronto FC

Venue: Orlando Citrus Bowl – Sunday April 26th – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST)

Match Odds: Orlando 6/5 – Draw 5/2 – Toronto 9/4

Match Preview

Orlando City host Toronto FC on Sunday night in a key Eastern Conference clash with the Lions still looking for their first home win as an MLS franchise.

Head coach Adrian Heath has spoken of how important that first victory will be for the supporters that have turned out in their thousands for the previous three fixtures at the Citrus Bowl.

Orlando return home for the first time in three weeks after back-to-back road games in which they have experienced mixed emotions. A 2-0 win at Portland was followed up by a first ever away loss to the Columbus Crew as they were beaten 3-0 after playing most of the game with ten men.

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They will hope to seal an important first win in front of their own fans against a Toronto side that have struggled so far this season.

The Reds started with a 3-1 win against the Vancouver Whitecaps but have lost four in a row since and Sunday’s trip to Florida will be the Canadian club’s sixth straight road game.

Toronto will have to wait another two weeks before they can play at home but they will know that it’s important they stop the rot by getting a result in Orlando this weekend.

Head coach Greg Vanney is under pressure, with some reports suggesting a loss on Sunday will cost him his job, but the Reds have been scoring plenty of goals.

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They have eight in five games so far, with Sebastian Giovinco netting two of those last week in a 3-2 loss to FC Dallas, and supporters will hope the Italian star can build on that display with another goal or two.

Giovinco will look to try and outperform Orlando’s very own foreign star in Kaka, and watching those two play on the same pitch should ensure this is a good one.

Team News

Orlando City will be without Tally Hall, Pedro Ribeiro and Martin Paterson, who are all still injured, while Lewis Neal and Tony Cascio are both doubts for the game. Rafael Ramos will also miss out as he serves a one game suspension after a red card in Columbus last weekend. Cyle Larin is likely to start in attack again with Kevin Molino and Carlos Rivas on the wings. Amobi Okugo is one booking off a suspension and will need to be careful.

Toronto FC have three injury concerns ahead of the trip as Clement Simonin, Steven Caldwell and Mark Bloom will all miss out. Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco are likely to start in attack, with Michael Bradley and Colleen Warner set to start in the centre of midfield.

Key Points

Orlando City’s last five: L/D/L/W/L

Toronto FC’s last five: W/L/L/L/L

Key Stat: Toronto have conceded at least two goals in their last four away games. They have questions to answer defensively and need to shore up a backline that has conceded more goals on average per game than any other team so far.

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Key Player: Sebastian Giovinco – ‘The Atomic Ant’ scored two excellent goals last weekend that showed how good a player he is. He needs to build on those strikes with another great performance in Orlando if his side are to get anything out of the game.

Score Prediction

Orlando City 2-2 Toronto FC – This looks set to be a real thriller between two sides that love to attack, without being too good defensively. That should lead to an open game and goals are to be expected. Neither side will want to lose this one though and that could see a draw.

Orlando City unveil CRAZY new purple pitch at Citrus Bowl

Orlando City have continued to make their mark on Major League Soccer by introducing the league’s first-ever coloured pitch at the Orlando Citrus Bowl by laying a purple surface made from 100% grass.

The Lions have enjoyed a solid start to life as a new MLS Expansion Franchise and currently sit in fourth place in the Eastern Conference after four matches.

They face another tough test on Friday as they host last season’s Eastern Conference winners, DC United on the brand new purple surface, and head coach Adrian Heath thinks the coloured pitch could give them a major advantage against opponents this season.

Orlando City's new purple turf at the Orlando Citrus Bowl (Photo: OrlandoCitySC.com)

Orlando City’s new purple turf at the Orlando Citrus Bowl (Photo: OrlandoCitySC.com)

“Our players will be virtually camouflaged against the pitch making it difficult for the opposition to spot them making runs. Imagine Kaká slipping into the box unnoticed and unmarked. Lethal,” Heath said.

Orlando City are the first MLS side to wear purple kits and they have entered the league looking to do things differently, something club founder and president, Phil Rawlins is proud of.

“I mean, purple is really our thing, man. We’ve painted the City purple, served purple beer at our parties, and even had purple sand at our groundbreaking – this is really just the next progression in our mission to make everything purple.”

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The surface may be purple but it is made from 100% grass and Dr. Chris Jones from TurfRite Labs –the laboratory who manufactured the pitch – thinks it will be perfect for soccer.

“When Phil Rawlins first approached us about growing purple grass we thought he was crazy. But it turns out not only was it possible, it actually has properties which make it perfect for bounce, performance and durability.”

The purple pitch at the Orlando Citrus Bowl is of course a fantastic April Fools stunt, but don’t rule out the Lions trying it for real in the future.

What do you make of the purple pitch? Is it a good idea?

MLS Preview and Prediction: Houston Dynamo vs Orlando City

Competition: Major League Soccer – Houston Dynamo vs Orlando City

Venue: BBVA Compass Stadium – Friday, March 13 – 19:00 ET (23:00 GMT )

Match Odds: Houston Dynamo 19/20 – Draw 11/5 – Orlando City 11/4

Match Preview

Houston Dynamo welcome Orlando City to the BBVA Compass Stadium on Friday evening for the first match of gameweek two in the 2015 MLS season.

Houston Dynamo enjoyed a successful start to the season last weekend as a 66th minute Giles Barnes goal earned Owen Coyle‘s men a hard fought 1-0 victory in a tight game at home to the Columbus Crew.

Orlando City’s first ever competitive encounter at home to fellow MLS debutants New York City provided late drama as they came back from 1-0 down to secure a draw thanks to a 90th minute deflected free-kick by star man Kaka, despite being down to ten men for the last seven minutes after Aurelien Collin saw red for a dangerous tackle on David Villa.

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The Dynamo will be pleased that they have the comfort of being able to enjoy the home advantage for the second week running. They fared considerably better on home soil in the 2014 season (P17, W8, D4, L5) than they did on the road (P17, W3, D2, L12).

Adrian Heath‘s Orlando team head to Houston for what will be their first away game in MLS history, so they’ll be hoping to begin life on their travels with a good performance and positive result.

Houston Dynamo recorded a convincing 3-0 win over Orlando City in their final preseason game at the end of February with goals coming from Boniek Garcia and Brad Davis, although Orlando finished the game with only nine players after Collin and Carlos Rivas were sent off.

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With the competitive element now being introduced, that will act as a key motivational factor and we can expect to see a much tighter contest between these two sides compared to the one we saw in preseason.

Houston will of course be hoping for a repeat performance and result but Orlando showed some promising signs in their opening game last week and the Lions will provide a stronger attacking threat this time around.

Team News

Houston Dynamo have no injuries or suspensions, so Owen Coyle has a full squad to choose from as they hope to make it two wins on the bounce.

Orlando City defender Aurelien Collin will be suspended following his red card last weekend. Forward Martin Paterson may be unavailable after he missed the game with New York City because of a groin strain. Goalkeeper Tally Hall remains out with a long-term injury.

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Key Points

Houston Dynamo’s form: W

Orlando City’s form: D

Key Stat: Houston Dynamo haven’t earned a point when conceding the first goal at home since November 2013 when they came back from 2-0 down to earn a 2-2 draw with the New York Red Bulls. They have conceded the first goal four times on home soil since then and have gone on to lose on each occasion. So if Orlando can get themselves into the lead, they may fancy their chances of seeing it out.

Key Player: Tyler Deric – The Houston Dynamo goalkeeper was given a chance to shine and was kept busy by the Columbus Crew attack last weekend as he made six saves on the way to securing a clean sheet. He can expect more of the same on Friday as Orlando boast an array of talent in offensive areas so Deric will need to be on top form.

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Score Prediction

Houston Dynamo 1-1 Orlando City – Houston Dynamo edged out a win in their last game while Orlando City showed great spirit to fight back from a goal down late on, so both will be confident. This should be another tight contest.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Orlando City vs New York City

Competition: Major League Soccer – Orlando City SC vs New York City FC

Venue: Orlando Citrus Bowl – Sunday, March 8 – 16:00 ET (21:00 GMT – Live on Sky Sports 3)

Match Odds: Orlando 23/20 – Draw 9/4 – New York City 12/5

Match Preview

Orlando City and New York City FC will make their highly anticipated debuts as Major League Soccer franchises when they face each other at the Citrus Bowl in Florida on Sunday night in the first of three big games to round off the opening weekend.

An enormous crowd in excess of 62,000 are expected to be at the game and Orlando will be hoping that the home advantage will see them win their first ever regular season game as an MLS club.

New York City will obviously be aiming for the same thing and will take confidence from the fact that they are coached by former Real Salt Lake head coach, Jason Kreis, who has more experience in MLS than his Orlando counterpart, Adrian Heath.

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Most of the focus will be on each sides’ Designated Player superstars in the shape of Kaka for Orlando and David Villa for New York City and both will need to show their experience and lead by example as both players will captain their teams.

These two met in a preseason friendly in Charleston two weeks ago and played out an entertaining 1-1 draw, with the goals coming from Kaka and NYCFC rookie Khiry Shelton.

The Brazilian playmaker was allowed too much space on that day and Kreis will be desperately trying to ensure his players close down the former Ballon d’Or winner on Sunday.

David Villa was effective in that friendly too and Orlando need to hope that their experienced centre-back duo of Aurelien Collin and Sean St Ledger can deal with the Spaniard.

David Villa NYCFC

It should be an open, entertaining game and both sides will be looking to get off to a flying start as they kick off their inaugural seasons in fine style.

Team News

Orlando City will be without goalkeeper Tally Hall (torn ACL) so Donovan Ricketts will start the season between the sticks. Northern Irish striker Martin Paterson (groin) is also out so DP forward Bryan Rochez will get the nod in attack. Brek Shea is expected to start at left-back for the Lions.

New York City have no injury concerns ahead of their opener and are likely to lineup with two strikers in the shape of David Villa and Adam Nemec. Mix Diskerud should play while the MLS experience of Ned Grabavoy will steady the NYCFC ship in midfield.

Key Points

Orlando City’s form: N/A

New York City’s form: N/A

Key Stat: Only two of the last six MLS Expansion franchises have won their opening match of their inaugural season (Seattle Sounders 2009 and Vancouver Whitecaps 2011).

Kaka in training with Orlando City for the first time (Photo: OrlandoCitySC.com)

Kaka in training with Orlando City for the first time (Photo: OrlandoCitySC.com)

Key Player: Kaka – The 62,000 fans in attendance will be expecting big things from their team but mainly Kaka. The Brazilian has already scored against NYCFC and will look to make a real statement in his MLS debut.

Score Prediction

Orlando City 2-1 New York City FC – The home advantage could be a key factor in this one and that should give Orlando the edge in what should be a really entertaining game between two sides looking to start life in MLS with a bang.

MLS 2015 Season Preview: Orlando City SC

As the 2015 season draws closer, we’ll have a new MLS 2015 Season Preview up everyday. Today we take a look at what Orlando City SC will be hoping to achieve in their first-ever season…

The arrival of Orlando City SC into Major League Soccer is fast approaching and we are excited to see what they have to offer. Expectations to perform will be high, but with Kaka leading the team they stand a strong chance of finishing at the top end of the Eastern Conference in their inaugural season. As it is their first ever campaign people will question how much they can achieve, but their introduction to MLS is exciting and we are looking forward to seeing how it all unfolds.

Last season’s finish: N/A (Inaugural Season)

Orlando City players huddle up in preseason action (Photo: http://www.orlandocitysc.com/)

Orlando City players huddle up in preseason action (Photo: http://www.orlandocitysc.com/)

What to expect this year:

Seeing as it is their initial season we obviously cannot compare previous campaigns, but with the players they have bought in there are high expectations. With big signings Orlando have to reach the playoffs and much comparison will be made between them and fellow expansion franchise, New York City FC. With Kaka at the heart of the midfield we can expect classy counter-attacking play led by a calm experienced head. Aurelien Collin will play a major part into how they perform defensively and his MLS experience is vital. Bryan Rochez has been brought in as a Designated Player up top and he will be expected to score the goals that fire Orlando to success this year.

Key changes to the squad:

As it is their first season the squad building at Orlando was vast. Their key additions are:

Ins: Kaka – Midfielder (Designated Player), Bryan Rochez – Forward (Designated Player), Aurelien Collin – Defender, Brek Shea – Midfielder, Donovan Ricketts – Goalkeeper, Amobi Okugo – Defender

Outs: N/A 

Key player: Kaka – Midfielder

Kaka Orlando City SC

There isn’t much to say about former Ballon d’Or winner that already hasn’t been said. He will play a pivotal role in Orlando’s first season and his experience in the squad is unparalleled. Playing at the top level and wrapping up European honours such as the Champions League, La Liga and Serie A mean he is the star. The 2002 World Cup winner will take the pressure for the Lions’ performances on the field and will improve the players around him. The rest of the Orlando squad can learn so much from Kaka and the number 10 will need to be at his brilliant best to set examples and keep his side composed. The 32 year old is a natural finisher and will show why he is regarded so highly by driving the side on with his midfield surges and range of passing. Kaka has always been a pleasure to watch and don’t expect that to change in MLS.

One to watch: Bryan Rochez – Forward

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The Honduran forward has an impressive goals-to-games ratio for former club Real Espana with 30 in 62 and he could be a dark horse for the Golden Boot this season. He has showed in glimpses what he is about in Orlando’s preseason campaign and will need to prove he is worthy of the DP tag Orlando have given him. The 20-year-old striker will enjoy working with Kaka and the service he should receive gives him a good chance of continuing his impressive scoring record.

Predicted finish: Eastern Conference – 2nd

Orlando should have a strong first season and we are expecting big things from them. With the squad they have we can expect them to put up a good challenge against everyone they face. The team is strong throughout with experienced defenders, and creative midfielders and Adrian Heath has one of Major League Soccer’s strongest team’s on paper. With Kaka at the heart of it all we are just counting down the days until kick off now.

How will Orlando do in their first-ever MLS season?

Kaka named as Orlando City captain ahead of debut MLS season

Brazilian star Kaka will captain Orlando City SC in their first-ever season in Major League Soccer, the club have confirmed.

Kaka became the club’s first ever Designated Player signing when he joined from AC Milan last June and it seem fitting that the 32-year-old playmaker will lead the Lions in their first MLS campaign.

The 2007 Ballon d’Or winner has captained Orlando throughout preseason and is already looking like a natural leader capable of guiding his team to success in their debut campaign.

“Kaká has demonstrated great leadership both on the field and in the locker room since the start,” head coach Adrian Heath said.

Kaka in training with Orlando City for the first time (Photo: OrlandoCitySC.com)

Kaka in training with Orlando City (Photo: OrlandoCitySC.com)

“The other players have naturally looked to his guidance throughout preseason so he was the natural pick to skipper the club.

“Ricky’s role will extend off the pitch as well, serving as the team’s liaison with the front office and coaching staff on all player-related concerns to ensure we provide the best possible environment for the players to train, develop and succeed personally and professionally.”

Orlando City open the 2015 season against fellow expansion franchise New York City FC, who will be led by their own star in David Villa.

Is Kaka the right choice for Orlando City captain?

Sean St Ledger will offer Orlando City vital experience if signed

By Keave Tollington – @KeaveT

Sean St Ledger has been targeting MLS as his next career move since he was released by Championship side Ipswich Town in December and he could prove to be a fine signing if Orlando City offer him a contract in the next few weeks.

St Ledger’s career in England had been dwindling even before Leicester City released him last summer, as he made only 2 appearances last season. He picked up various leg injuries whilst at City, forcing him out of the squad most weeks. His time at Ipswich was also short lived and he made no appearances for the club.

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Things aren’t all doom and gloom for St Ledger, who has spent much of the last month stateside trying to forge a path in MLS. He was unable to impress at his initial trial at DC United and is now looking to secure a spot on MLS Expansion Team Orlando City’s 2015 roster.

The defender is definitely ready for a change of scenery away from British football and is a bright prospect for Orlando City. Vice President of Soccer Operations at Orlando, Paul McDonough said the club were very keen to get St Ledger’s deal confirmed as quickly as possible.

“Sean is very much first choice at the moment,” he said. “He has the experience and the kind of ability we’re looking for in the middle of the back four.”

Orlando City’s current squad is mostly comprised of young players, who have less than half of the practical knowledge that St Ledger has acquired over the years, and signing him is expected to give Orlando’s backline the experience that it needs to be successful in the 2015 MLS season.

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St Ledger played the first 60 minutes of Orlando’s preseason friendly against Swedish side BK Häcken last week and is said to have impressed head coach Adrian Heath. The veteran defender also spent the first-half acting as an instructor for US-under 20 international player, Conor Donovan, helping him to correct mistakes and improve his play.

If things go to plan and St Ledger joins up with the club officially in the next few weeks, it is fair to say that he will provide invaluable experience to the younger members of the Lion’s roster. Aurelien Collin is expected to be the first-choice centre-back with Orlando this season but St Ledger would prove to be a more than capable partner in what could be a solid defence.

Last year might not have been St Ledger’s best, but could 2015 see him succeed in MLS with Orlando City?

Orlando City to bring in English and Irish defenders this week

Orlando City SC are looking set to bolster their backline with the addition of Republic of Ireland international Sean St Ledger and another unnamed defender from England.

The Lions are preparing for their debut campaign in Major League Soccer and have started their first ever MLS preseason in solid form, with two draws and a 4-0 win against FC Dallas so far.

Sean St Ledger played 45 minutes in a goalless draw with Toronto FC yesterday and the Irishman will be hoping to secure a contract with Orlando after failing to impress DC United enough during a short trial with the Eastern Conference champions.

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Orlando City general manager Paul McDonough revealed that St Ledger is likely to be signed in time for the start of the new season, which gets underway in less than a month, while another defender from England could also be brought in this week.

“Sean is very much first choice at the moment,” McDonough said. “He has the experience and the kind of ability we’re looking for in the middle of the back four.

“But we will also be bringing over another English player from the Championship on Monday or Tuesday and giving him a full trial as well. He can play both at centre-back or on the right, so it’s perfectly possible we could sign both of them.”

St Ledger has been without a club since being released by Ipswich Town at the end of December but he will be hoping to find himself playing regular first-team football again if he can earn a deal with Orlando.

The 30-year-old defender looks like he’s enjoying his trial with Orlando so far as he posted a picture on Twitter with Brazilian superstar Kaka on Sunday.

He could form a solid partnership with Aurelien Collin if signed, while it will be interesting to see who the other unnamed defender will be.

Orlando City already have four English-born players on their roster as English coach Adrian Heath is more than happy to bring players in from across the Atlantic.

How will Orlando City do in their first ever MLS season in 2014?

Orlando City bolster attack by signing Martin Paterson and Carlos Rivas

Orlando City SC have made two more important moves to strengthen their squad ahead of the debut campaign in Major League Soccer by bringing in Northern Irish forward Martin Paterson and Colombian Carlos Rivas.

Paterson joins the Lions on loan for the season from Championship club Huddersfield Town and the 27-year-old will hope to find himself playing consistent football after struggling for the past couple of seasons.

The Northern Ireland international has been with Huddersfield since joining in 2013 from Burnley, with whom he played in the Premier League, but has been sent out on loan twice in the past 12 months.

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After ending last season with Bristol City, Paterson then joined League One side Fleetwood Town for the first half of the current campaign but an injury cut short his time there and he moves to MLS hoping to become a key player with Orlando City.

“Martin is an experienced striker who will be a valuable asset for the team and our younger players in particular,” Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath told the club’s official website. “We’re very pleased to have him with the Club for our first season in MLS.”

Orlando also confirmed the signing of Colombian forward Carlos Augusto Rivas today and the left-midfielder, who can also play as a striker, is an exciting addition.

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The 20-year-old joins from Colombian side Deportivo Cali, with whom he won the Superliga Colombiana in 2014, in his third year with the club.

Rivas scored 12 goals in 29 appearances last season and he could be a real star for Orlando City in 2015 and beyond.

“We’ve had our eyes on Carlos for quite some time now,” Adrian Heath said. “He ticks a lot of the boxes that we look for in players, and we believe that he’s an exciting midfielder who will certainly contribute for us moving forward.”

How important will the additions of Martin Paterson and Carlos Rivas be for Orlando City?