The Montreal Impact will face Orlando FC tonight for the first time at Orlando City Stadium. As of late, the Impact has been playing good soccer can they continue this vs Orlando?
1. With Cyle Larin recently getting a DUI do you see this becoming a problem in the future? With him being out of the lineup this Saturday how will that effect Orlando’s overall performance?
Michael Citro: Cyle doesn’t seem the kind of person who will let this define his career, so I don’t expect it to be a long-term problem. However, it’s obviously a short-term problem for the team. The Lions aren’t deep at striker and Jason Kreis likes to use two. Larin is the team’s only true target striker although Giles Barnes can slide into that role if need be. Carlos Rivas isn’t a sniper and is more the kind of striker who works better with a partner up top. He’s not too shy to shoot but he’s much better at passing the ball into the penalty area for his strike partner.
Switching Barnes in for Larin is the most likely scenario, but Kreis could switch to a 4-2-3-1 like a team played last year and deploy either Barnes or Rivas up top. Hadji Barry, a first-round pick from last year, will most likely be brought up from his USL loan to provide depth. Not having Larin will certainly hinder an offense that has relied heavily on him since early in 2015 – particularly this season. Others will have to step up.
2. With Orlando currently in 4th place in the Eastern conference do you see them holding down this position throughout the remainder of the season or will they drop off?
Michael Citro: If Orlando City can play defense like in the early part of the season, and recently against D.C. United and Chicago Fire, the Lions can hold their current spot or move up in the standings. Similarly, if the club’s home field advantage lasts the full season, the team should make the playoffs. But the offense has been the main problem so far this year and that won’t likely get better until/unless Larin returns unless Kaká catches fire and stays healthy.
There’s no reason for the team to drop off, but a difficult May showed that you can never be sure of your position in the table.
3. Who has been Orlando's unsung hero for the 2017 season so far?
Michael Citro: This has to be Will Johnson. He and Jonathan Spector have largely changed the culture in the locker room and on the field. Either would be a good captain. Spector gets a lot of the accolades for helping improve the back line, but Johnson has been at least as important. He sets the standard for the team’s work rate, does a lot of the little things that aren’t glamorous, and provides an emotional lift for Orlando City. Johnson simply wouldn’t let the club give up after going down two men against Chicago last weekend and willed the team to a point. That kind of performance is something we’ve seen regularly this year from the veteran midfielder.
Injuries: Orlando is healthy as of late.
Suspensions: Antonio Nocerino is out with a red card suspension & and Larin is out until he goes through the league’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program.
Projected lineup: I think Jason Kreis will do the Barnes-for-Larin swap and lineup in a 4-4-2: Joe Bendik; Donny Toia, Jonathan Spector, Jose Aja, Scott Sutter; Cristian Higuita, Servando Carrasco, Kaká, Will Johnson; Carlos Rivas, Giles Barnes.
Score Prediction: Draw, 1-1.