- Gavin Rushnell
Real Salt Lake (h) Match Preview
Orlando City will look to start the 2020 MLS Season with a win against Real Salt Lake.
The MLS offseason will finally come to a close this Saturday when Orlando City faces off against Real Salt Lake. While the Lions will want to get the first 3 points of the season, it won't be an easy task. The Utahn club finished last season with a home playoff spot in the extremely competitive Western Conference. They were propelled all the way into 3rd place behind their stellar defense last season. Real Salt Lake conceded only 41 goals last year, good enough for the 3rd best defense in the entire league.
Unfortunately for Orlando, Real Salt Lake retained every member of their back 4 this offseason. The only change in their defensive third comes at the goalkeeping position after the legendary Nick Rimando decided to hang up his gloves after 20 years in the league. Real Salt Lake traded $50,000 TAM to the Vancouver Whitecaps for goalkeeper Zac Macmath, someone who they think has "the edge" to replace the MLS veteran.
The problems for Real Salt Lake last year were eerily similar to Orlando's. Both clubs struggled to find the back of the net all year, with Real Salt Lake only scoring 2 more goals than Orlando. This can mostly be attributed to striker Sam Johnson's injury problems throughout the year, which forced the team to play central midfielder Damir Kreilach in a false nine role.
Orlando can consider themselves lucky that Real Salt Lake's team MVP Everton Luiz, who the team permanently signed in December, will be suspended for the game. On the contrary, Orlando can consider themselves unlucky to be without their MVP, Luis Nani. The Lions will also be without DP striker Dom Dwyer due to a lower-body injury suffered during the preseason.
A new era seems to be dawning for Orlando City under new head coach Oscar Pareja and the fans are itching to see the team play. With the wall already sold out, a packed house is to be expected at Exploria Stadium. Also, a tifo is rumored to be in the works so make sure you get to the stadium early if you'd like to see it.
Time: 6:00 PM EST
Stadium: Exploria Stadium
Injuries/Suspensions (ORL): Luis Nani (suspended), Dom Dwyer (lower-body)
Injuries/Suspensions (RSL): Everton Luiz (suspended), Sam Johnson (knee)
Predicted Lineup: Gallese, Ruan, Carlos, Jansson, Miller, Urso (c), Mendez, Mueller, Pereyra, Michel, Akindele
Score Prediction: 2-1 win
'Til next time, this has been Gavin Rushnell and #VamosOrlando