Two of the top three teams in the Eastern Conference meet in a vital early season match on Friday night. The Philadelphia Union host Orlando City at Talen Energy Stadium as Orlando look to stay atop the East. It’s City’s first time in their MLS history being all alone at the top of the conference and they have done so with star midfielders Kaka and Antonio Nocerino missing significant time. With second-year striker Cyle Larin set to miss the match due to a hamstring injury, it won’t get any easier for the Lions.
Philadelphia’s two-game win streak came to an end last week after a 1-0 defeat to Chicago, but the clubs surprising start still has them just two points back of Orlando.
Orlando City is just one of two teams in the league yet to lose a match, but it will be a challenge this week without Larin and Redding. Brek Shea will also miss the Union match as he picked up a one-game suspension from the MLS disciplinary committee. Philadelphia is still coping with Maurice Edu’s injury, but otherwise, the club is at full health.
The teams met twice in Orlando’s first season with just one goal scored in those matches. Philadelphia won the most recent, 1-0.
Adrian Heath has many options available to replace Larin for the week, but I’d like to see Kaka pushed forward into a false nine position such as the case when Larin went down last Monday. I think Orlando comes away with the victory in Philadelphia 2-1.