With star-man Ricardo Kaká leading the way, the Orlando City Lions open up their 2016 MLS campaign against Real Salt Lake. A sell-out crowd of over 60,000 is expected at the Citrus Bowl when the Lions take the pitch Sunday afternoon.
The home crowd will be in full voice as they look for Orlando City to start off better than they did a year ago. During their first MLS season, the Lions were winless in their first five games at home before an emphatic 4-0 win over the L.A. Galaxy.
Real Salt Lake, led by USMNT midfielder Kyle Beckerman, is pegged to reach the playoffs this season after last year’s disappointing run. In 2015 they finished just outside the highly competitive Western Conference playoff spots, which was the first time since 2007 they missed postseason play.
Orlando City hurt themselves last season with numerous suspensions. City was the second most red-carded team in the MLS with a total of 10 red cards. These suspensions accompanied with the lengthy injury to Brek Shea, and the season ending injury to Kevin Molino challenged the squad’s depth.
The injury bug has already bit two Orlando City players leading up to Sunday’s match, winger Carlos Rivas and defender David Mateos are sidelined with injuries from the preseason.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Cyle Larin: The 2015 MLS Rookie of the Year bursted onto the scene for Orlando City notching in 17 goals last season. At only 20 years old he has quickly turned into a fan favorite and is now a regular starter for the Canadian national team.
Ricardo Kaká: This is an obvious one, the 2007 Ballon d’Or winner is the true captain and mentor for the young Orlando City team. Last season he recorded nine goals and seven assists, commanding the midfield for the Lions.
Kyle Beckerman: The battle in midfield is often won for Real Salt Lake because of this man. Although his name won’t appear on the stat sheet too many times, his excellent passing and game IQ sets him apart from the rest.
Yura Movsisyan: No matter what team this forward plays for, he is always finding the back of the net. Currently on loan from Russian club Spartak Moscow, he has recorded 25 goals in 62 matches for Spartak.
Kick-off is scheduled for Sunday – 2 p.m.