It is only the second game of the season but both Chicago and Orlando City will look for positive results after falling short in their openers.
Orlando City, playing at home in front of their usual full house, had to settle for a 2-2 draw against Real Salt Lake Sunday and needed two extremely late goals just to get that draw. The Chicago Fire also failed to take full advantage of their home opener, dropping a 4-3 decision to New York City FC.
As both teams head into the game Friday, injury concerns could derail their optimal lineup. Orlando City will be without superstar Kaka while Chicago will likely be without its Designated Player striker, Gilberto.
Our friends at The Mane Land were kind enough to give a glimpse into Orlando City and what Fire fans should expect to see Friday. Mane Land staff writer Luis Hernandez talked team expectations, life without Kaka and speculated on Friday's result.
1) Orlando City came into last season with plenty of hype but failed to make the playoffs. What are the expectations from fans this year and do you think the team is equipped to reach those goals?
I don't think the expectations have changed at all from last year to this one. Everyone within the team from the president on down has to bench players continue to mention defying expectations and reaching the playoffs. The fans are no different; they expect to make the playoffs and perhaps even host a match. Head Coach Adrian Heath has shown more flexibility with his tactics this year plus with the added depth should get the Lions more points and into the playoffs. The team just needs to avoiding injuries and game suspensions, but that hasn't happened so far.
2) This will be the second match without Kaka. How much does that hurt the team and what should Fire fans expect Orlando to do to make up for that absence?
Losing Kaká to injury is always a big deal because he's a hard player to replace like for like. The team has to take on a different formation with the captain; as we saw against RSL, they played a 4-3-3 which the team did not use in the preseason. I wouldn't be surprised to see a different lineup and formation against the Fire. I think the speed the Fire have is a concern to the coach, and the team may come out in a 4-5-1 depending on the fitness of players like Antonio Nocerino and Carlos Rivas.
3) Orlando required a great escape just to pull a draw out of the home opener against Real Salt Lake. Do you get the feeling, even though it is only the second game, that Orlando will be extra motivated to redeem that home opener performance in front of the supporters Friday?
I don't think the team will be extra motivated because the coach stresses the importance of each match, and expects the players to be motivated to perform their best in front of the home crowd. Having played the Fire three times last year doesn't fuel any rivalry, but supporters are expecting a better performance in the Citrus Bowl from Sunday which will lead to a win.
4) What is your prediction for the game?
I think both teams are going to have their chances this match since the back line for both teams still have some issues to work on. Neither team will be able to keep a clean sheet, my head is telling me a 2-2 draw, but my heart tells me that the Lions find a way to pull off the win on prime time, 3-2.