Jun 4, 2017; Orlando, FL, USA; Orlando City SC midfielder Kaka (10), midfielder Matias Perez Garcia (32), forward Carlos Rivas (11) smile after they beat the Chicago Fire at Orlando City Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

U.S. Open Cup Preview: Orlando City SC host Miami FC

The U.S. Open Cup returns tonight in the fourth round of the tournament. The highly anticipated match between Orlando City SC and Miami FC is finally here. Miami FC currently play in the North American Soccer League (NASL) and Orlando City SC recently became Florida’s first Major League Soccer (MLS) club in 2015. Tonight the two teams meet for the first time, in the U.S. Open Cup.

Miami FC

Miami FC are coming into tonight’s game with confidence as they haven’t lost a match since April 8, and sit atop their table in the NASL. They have played two games so far in the U.S. Open Cup, and have won both. On May 17, Miami played South Florida Surf, and won 3-2. They then beat the Tampa Bay Rowdies 2-0 on May 31. Striker Renato Vincenzo Rennella is firing at will and is in tremendous form in recent matches.

When playing MLS teams although, Miami FC fell well short. Back in February, Miami played Toronto FC and the Chicago Fire, losing both games by several goals. We’ll see tonight if Miami’s recent spell of good form can change their record against MLS teams as they visit Orlando City Stadium.

Orlando City SC

While Miami FC is having their fair share of fun in the NASL, Orlando is in a bit of a rough patch. Having won only 1 game in their last 5 MLS matches, Orlando City is looking to get back on track in tonight’s Florida derby. In the Eastern Conference although, Orlando City sits in fourth place, just 5 points behind first place Toronto FC. In Orlando’s last game, they tied the Chicago Fire 0-0 even after seeing two red cards against them. After an appeal, the league withdrew Rafael Ramos’ red card , clearing him to play. Head coach Jason Kreis is expecting “a very difficult challenge” tonight.

Lions Possible Starting XI

Due to tonight’s game being a fourth-round game in the U.S. Open Cup, City head coach Jason Kreis could feature many different players other than the original starters. Throughout the season, the Lions have either lined up in a 4-4-2 formation (4 defenders, 4 midfielders, and 2 forwards), or in a 4-2-3-1 formation (4 defenders, 2 defensive midfielders, 3 attacking midfielders, and 1 forward). The Orlando City lineup could look something like this:

  • Goalkeeper (GK) – #1 Joe Bendik / #28 Josh Saunders
  • Left back (LB) – #25 Donny Toia / #94 Victor Pagliari Giro
  • Center back (CB) – #2 Jonathan Spector / #95 Leonardo Pereira
  • Center back (CB) – #4 Jose Aja / #3 Sebastian Hines
  • Right back (RB) – #21 Scott Sutter / #27 Rafael Ramos
  • Defensive Midfield (CDM) – #7 Cristian Higuita / #5 Sevando Carrasco
  • Defensive Midfield (CDM) – #8 Will Johnson / #23 Antonio Nocerino
  • Left Midfield (LM) – #11 Carlos Rivas / #17 Luis Gil / #14 Giles Barnes
  • Central Attacking Midfield (CAM) – #14 Giles Barnes / #10 Ricardo Kaka / #32 Matias Perez Garcia
  • Right Midfield (RM) – #14 Giles Barnes / #8 Will Johnson / #32 Matias Perez Garcia
  • Forward/ Striker (CF/ S) – #9 Cyle Larin / #11 Carlos Rivas / #10 Ricardo Kaka

Jason Kreis has many options. Top goal scorer Cyle Larin is almost sure to get the start for the Lions as he has scored 8 goals and provided one assist so far in 15 MLS games. Other than him, captain Will Johnson and defensive rock Jonathan Spector are probably the only other sure starters as they have been in great form recently. Speedster Carlos Rivas can play up top with Cyle Larin or could play as a wide midfielder. Giles Barnes is also very versatile and could feature as a central attacking midfielder or could be seen on the opposite wing of Rivas.

Return of Kaka?

Former Ballon d’Or winner Ricardo Kaka could also get the go ahead tonight. The Orlando City number 10 had a rough start to the season. He suffered a hamstring injury in the first match of the season against New York City. Since then he has struggled to get back into the starting eleven. Tonight might be his opportunity to show he belongs among the consistent starters. Kaka has played in only eight games this season, most of them as a substitute, and has bagged three goals for the Lions.

Goalkeeper Joe Bendik, Super Joe, Joe Wall. He goes by many names. The Orlando City keeper had this incredible save in week 14…

Bendik is the heart and soul behind his defense. With “The Wall” behind him, it is going to be tough for Miami FC to score in one of Major League Soccer’s toughest stadiums.

The match is set for 7:30 p.m.

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