Orlando City vs. FC Dallas: Predictions, Lineups and More

Orlando City hosts FC Dallas for their first meeting in MLS play. Orlando City currently sits in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference and has only lost once in their last 8 matches. FC Dallas finds themselves 5th place in the West and are looking for their 3rd straight win.

The Gold Cup is now in full swing and the Lions will be missing three of their best players. Midfielder Darwin Cerén and striker Cyle Larin are away with their countries and Kaká is suspended due to his red card last week against Real Salt Lake. (Also, don’t forget Brek Shea is shut down with injury.)

Coach Adrian Heath finds himself in a tough situation without Kaká directing the attack in his 4–2–3–1 formation. If he chooses to keep the formation the same, then Pedro Ribeiro is the likely option to fill in at CAM with Rivas moving up to striker. However, with Lewis Neal carrying a knock (should he not be fit by Saturday) it could leave the Lions without a suitable left midfielder.

FC Dallas is in a similar boat to Orlando City. They run a 4–2–3–1 (like Orlando) and are missing 4 players this weekend. Blas Perez might be the most notable absence as the is their target man. Both teams will either have to change from their preferred formations or utilize players in different roles than they’re accustomed too. This potentially throws team tendencies and tactics out the window and it will be tough to predict anything regarding this match. Welcome to MLS play during the CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Regardless, both teams are aggressive and will be gunning for the 3 points. This has the potential to be a wide open shootout. Expect a plethora of shots and probably a handful of mistakes. This is a match where the head coaches will earn their money.

Score Prediction: Orlando City win 2–1. It’s tough to pick against the Lions and their sparkling home form in the Citrus Bowl. Usually the first goal is always key, but expect the 2nd goal to be the most important. It might just come from a defender as Orlando City has come very close recently on set pieces.

Predicted Lineup

This should be the expected lineup if Heath chooses to keep the formation the same. The biggest change is Pedro Ribeiro dropping back to CAM. Remember, Ribeiro was originally brought in to be a backup for Kaká, so this position suits him well. Unfortunately, that forces Rivas from the wing as he moves up to striker where he has been far less impressive. Our best hint at this formation came last week after Kaká was sent off. Rivas was moved up top and Ribeiro dropped back as they played a 4–4–1. Also, with Rivas vacating the left, Lewis Neal would have to assume that role, likely opening up a spot for Amobi Okugo to finally receive some significant minutes. The defense might get Aurélien Collin back this week, but if he’s not ready to go, Seb Hines will continue partnering with Sean St. Ledger.

The above lineup wouldn’t be our preferred lineup but we’d certainly understand Adrian Heath’s thought process and wanting to make minimal changes. However, we are going to throw one other option out in our efforts to find a suitable formation for a Kaká-less Lions.

In this 4–5–1 formation, we keep Rivas and his productivity on the left. All three holding midfielders will control the middle of the field with Neal and Higuita encouraged to exploit the space behind Ribeiro. Eric Avila remains as the usual right mid. This formation would keep the team width, which is one of the main reasons behind Orlando City’s ascension up the East Standings. It would also keep a real target man at striker to benefit from the crosses of Rivas, Luke Boden, and Rafael Ramos.

Either of these formations can work, but it’s more important to put the players in the right positions to succeed. We can not stress enough how important it is to leave Rivas on the left. He’s the match winner Orlando City will need to come away with 3 points.

(Note: Darwin Cerén and Cyle Larin unavailable due to Gold Cup, Bryan Rochez unfit after Visa issues post U20 World Cup, Kaká Suspended and Brek Shea on the shelf with a serious knock. Yikes.)

Basics

ORLANDO CITY SC vs FC Dallas
Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Florida
July 11, 2015 | MLS Match Week 19
7:30 p.m.

Opponent Probable Lineups ( via MLS* )

FC Dallas
Kennedy
Harris, Loyd, Hedges, Walker
Acosta, Ulloa
Hollingshead, Diaz, Castillo
Texiera

(Akindele, Bekker, Hernandez, Perez, Watson unavailable due to Gold Cup)

Suspended

Kaká (Red Card — Violent Conduct) Orlando City

Injuries

Orlando City SC

OUT: M Kevin Molino (torn ACL)

OUT: F Martin Paterson (knee injury)

OUT: M Tony Cascio (sore back)

OUT: M Brek Shea (groin injury)

FC Dallas

None

Where to Watch

TV: My65 / Sun Sports

Streaming: FoxSports Go app

Listen: Real Radio 104.1