Orlando City Match Preview

For the Orlando City fan perspective, please visit Rip Roaring 11.

Orlando City is currently in first place in USL-Pro and boasts the best home record in the league (6-0-2).  The defending champs could open up an 11 point lead on Rochester if they win at home on Saturday night.  For the Rhinos, playing in the Citrus Bowl will be the hardest match of their remaining schedule and the team will want to enter the home stretch in good form.

These two teams, first and second in the league, have not yet played each other this season.  The preseason favorites will face each other a second time in Sahlen’s Stadium on August 3 and this series could well determine the regular season championship.

Orlando has scored more goals than any other team in the league, 33 goals or 1.94 goals per game, at home this figure is 2.125.  While the Rhinos found early season success by defending hard on the road, only giving up .73 goals per away game, they may likely find it impossible to blank the City Lions in Florida.

Orlando’s favored starting 11 this season looks like this:
GK- Miguel Gallardo-Aparicio
D- Luke Boden
D- Kyle Davies
D- Kieron Bernard
D- Jerome Mechack
M- Kevin Molino (1 goal and 1 assist in last 5 games)
M- James O’Connor
M- Anthony Pulis
M- Westley Allen
F- Jamie Watson
F- Dennis Chin (4 goals in last 5 games)

Rodrigo Lopez, who just joined the club from Ventury County in the USL-PDL, and Adama M’Bengue, who signed from the youth team, could also play in midfield.

Ian Fuller has been used mostly as a late game substitute, averaging just under a half hour per appearance, but has chipped in with 2 goals and an assist this season from midfield.

Erik Ustruck and Robert Valentino could feature in defense depending on the injury situation.

Matt Luzunaris has been in red hot form lately, scoring 3 goals and adding an assist in Orlando’s last 5 games despite averaging 45 minutes per appearance on the season.

The newest Rhino, Chris Estridge, debuted Thursday night in Wilmington.  Estidge came in for Quavas Kirk in the 70th minute of the game and slotted into left back which allowed Danny Earls to move into midfield.  I expect Estridge to be more involved against Orlando and may even start.

This move would give Rochester much more going forward (with J.C. Banks and Earls on the wings) but also in defense with Quavas Kirk starting at right back instead of Lucas Fernandez and Estridge starting on the left side instead of Danny Earls, who likes to drift forward.  Having two wide players sending service into the box is great for Andrew Hoxie who will look to flick balls onto the foot of Kendell McFayden or rifle headers on frame himself.

Estridge may turn out to be the missing piece for this Rochester Rhinos team.  If they play to their potential there is no reason why the Rhinos can’t leave the Citrus Bowl on Saturday night with at least a point.


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