This week’s game shifts to Exploria Stadium in Orlando. Both teams could use a win, as both sides sit on the outside of the playoff picture. The Lions are in a better spot, sitting just one point out of postseason play but this game is important either way.
To get a better senes of what’s been going on with Orlando City, we once again spoke with Ben Miller of SB Nation’s The Mane Land.
Questions for The Mane Land:
Massive Report: It’s been a busy schedule for Orlando City since these two teams last met with three games over the last seven days. How will that impact James O’Connor’s plans for this match?
The Mane Land: I would definitely expect to see some rotation from the previous games starting lineup, especially considering that last game went all the way to penalties. Add in the fact that the team’s following game is next Thursday in Portland and I would expect to see a couple usual starters get some rest.
MR: City is only one point out of the playoffs in the Eastern Conference but also reached the semifinals of the U.S. Open Cup last night in dramatic fashion. Given they’re only two wins away from a trophy, will the team prioritize the Open Cup to bring home some hardware or continue to try and balance both competitions?
TML: Truthfully, its difficult to say. While the Lions have never made the playoffs they’ve also never made it this far in the U.S. Open Cup so I don’t think there’s an easy answer there, and devoting full energy to both endeavors is hardly an easy task. With that being said Orlando does have the luxury of a home game against FC Dallas on the Saturday before its Open Cup clash with Atlanta United. I would honestly expect the team to put forth as close to full effort as it can in both competitions and pray that injuries and suspensions enable it to walk that tightrope.
MR: Aside from Nani, who is a player or a couple of players that have been city for Orlando this year that Crew fans may not know much about?
TML: There are a couple names that come to mind for me here. Forward Chris Mueller is one of them, and he’s had a pretty great year so far with five goals and three assists in the league, and a goal in this week’s Open Cup win. He’s matured a lot since last year’s rookie season and is really starting to take on a lot more responsibility with the team. The other guy is Ruan, the team’s starting right back. In his first year with the team he came in, won the starting job after a few games and hasn’t really looked back since. His pace is flat out electric, and he’s tricky enough to beat players on the dribble and get service into the box. The team is much more dangerous going forward when he’s in the lineup, and he’s proven to be a great signing.
MR: Are there any injuries, call-ups, players that will be unavailable for this game?
TML: Cristian Higuita is listed as out with a hamstring injury, and Joao Moutinho is still listed as questionable; no word recently on whether or not he’ll be fit for selection. Sacha Kljestan will be unavailable due to suspension after receiving an extra game suspension for serious foul play in July 7th’s loss to the Philadelphia Union.
To read Massive Report’s answers to The Mane Land’s questions, check out their Intelligence Report.