Orlando City SC vs. Colorado Rapids | 2017 MLS Match Preview
Orlando City SC vs. Colorado Rapids
2017 MLS Regular Season
Orlando City Stadium - Orlando, Fla.
Saturday, April 29 - 3:55 pm ET
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The fact that parity reigns in MLS is one of the biggest-selling points for any player, coach or owner. All you have to do is look at the Colorado Rapids, who went from finishing last in the Western Conference in 2015 to finishing second in the Supporters' Shield standings last season. Unfortunately for the Rapids, parity means that it is tough to stay at the top, and this season has not started as they would hope.
Defender of the Year finalist Axel Sjoberg went down with an injury early on, Tim Howard was suspended for three games and the team decided to trade two players who were part of the foundation of one of the best defenses in MLS history. This has led to a 1-4-1 start for the club, placing them at the bottom of the West. Turning that around this weekend will not be an easy task when they visit Orlando City SC, a team that has started 2017 4-0-0 at Orlando City Stadium.
Orlando City SC
Orlando became the first team to win their first four games in a new stadium a couple weeks ago when they beat the LA Galaxy and they followed that up with a 2-1 win at New York City FC last weekend. They have accomplished this with one of the best defenses in the league and the timely goalscoring of Cyle Larin. After two more goals against NYCFC, Larin has now scored 10 goals against the two New York teams, tied for the most in MLS history.
The big story in Orlando this week (aside from all the wins and Larin goals) will be the health of star Designated Player Kaká. The former World Player of the year has been out with a hamstring injury since coming off with the knock in the first game of the season. He trained fully with the team at the end of last week but did not make the trip to New York despite head coach Jason Kreis saying it was a possibility – his chances should improve this week.
- Suspended: None
- Int’l Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT: D Kevin Alston (knee injury); DAY-TO-DAY: D Rafael Ramos (hamstring injury), D Jose Aja (hamstring injury), D Kaká (hamstring injury)
Projected Starting XI (4-4-2, diamond): GK: Joe Bendik — Scott Sutter, Tommy Redding, Jonathan Spector, Donny Toia — Antonio Nocerino, Will Johnson, Cristian Higuita, Giles Barnes — Carlos Rivas, Cyle Larin
Notes: Cyle Larin currently has a 40% conversion rate off 15 total shots this season. The best conversion rate over an entire MLS season since 2010 is Frank Lampard’s 36.4% (15 shot minimum).
The Rapids will have to play this game without Howard, who will be serving the last game of his three-game suspension. While the defense has not been at its 2016 level, the nine goals they have conceded are tied for the eight-fewest in MLS. The real problem has been the attack, which has produced just five goals.
Designated Player Shkelzen Gashi missed last week's game with an illness and will need to improve his play if the Rapids have a shot at returning to the MLS Cup Playoffs. The Albanian international has not produced a goal or assist in 147 minutes so far this season.
- Suspended: Tim Howard (Disciplinary Committee decision), Kortne Ford (Disciplinary Committee decision)
- Int’l Duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT: Axel Sjoberg (hamstring injury), Bismark Adjei-Boateng (back injury); QUESTIONABLE: Dillon Serna (calf injury)
Projected starting XI (4-2-3-1): GK: Zac MacMath — Eric Miller, Jared Watts, Bobby Burling, Mekeil Williams— Micheal Azira, Dillon Powers — Marlon Hairston, Shkelzen Gashi, Dominique Badji — Kevin Doyle
Notes: Colorado had only three shots on target against Minnesota last weekend. They have 15 shots on target this year, the lowest in the league by nine.
Colorado have yet to beat Orlando City in MLS play, losing 2-0 in Orlando in 2015 and drawing 0-0 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in 2016.
- Overall: Colorado 0 wins (0 goals) … Orlando 1 win (2 goals) … Ties 1
- At Orlando: Colorado 0 wins (0 goals) … Orlando 1 win (2 goals) … Ties 0
Referee: Robert Sibiga
Assistant Referees: Adam Wienckowski (bench side), Frank Anderson (far side)
Fourth Official: Caleb Mendez