Adrian Heath talks Nocerino, Cyle Larin’s goalscoring

Antonio Nocerino has landed in the City Beautiful, but he will not suit up for Orlando City’s season-opener on Sunday.

Orlando City head coach Adrian Heath confirmed Friday during the team’s training session at the Orlando Citrus Bowl the Italian midfielder will not be available for selection ahead of this weekend’s clash with Real Salt Lake.

Heath said Nocerino will have to go through medicals before joining the team for practice.

“We’re hopeful he’ll join in sometime tomorrow,” Heath said following Friday’s training session. “He’s got all his physicals this afternoon. He’ll probably do a light workout with us [Saturday], but he certainly won’t be involved this weekend.”

Orlando will only have four days of rest after Sunday’s game before hosting the Chicago Fire the following Friday at home. Heath isn’t 100 percent certain if Nocerino will play against the Fire, however, he pointed out that will all depend on how he does in training next week.

Orlando City hosts Real Salt Lake on Sunday. Kickoff at the Citrus Bowl is slated for 2 p.m.

High expectations for Larin

Cyle Larin did not score any goals this preseason, but Heath is confident the sophomore striker will rise to the occasion on Sunday.

“I’m always confident that a goalscorer will score,” Heath said. “People talk about this sophomore slump — I don’t get it. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t be. [Larin] is incredibly confident. He’s bigger, stronger, quicker than he was last year.”

Larin was named the Major League Soccer Rookie of the Year last season after scoring a team-high 17 goals, which is a single-season MLS record for most goals scored by a rookie.

With Kevin Molino back in the fray, goal-production from Larin could be expected to increase.

Now what amount of goals will Larin have to target this season? Here’s what the Gaffer had to say about that:

“He understands the league better than he did last year, so I don’t get that [sophomore slump], and I don’t buy it,” Heath added. “I told Cyle I expect him to score 20 goals this season. That’s what I’m expecting from him. I think he’s capable of doing it — that’s just not a throwaway number.

“You look at Cyle last year, he had 17 goals. Conceivably, how many chances did he have last year? He could have got 30 goals last year, so I expect him to get 20 goals this year. I’m confident every time he goes to play that he’s going to score.”

City nuggets

Carlos Rivas, who suffered an ankle injury earlier this week, has fully recovered ahead of Sunday’s game, according to Heath. The Orlando City head coach added he’s not entirely sure if Rivas will be available this weekend.

Orlando City will only have four days of rest after Sunday’s game before taking on the Fire the following Friday. Heath isn’t pleased with the team’s short amount of days of rest before suiting up again.

“I don’t understand why we have too many Sunday-Friday games,” Heath said. “I don’t know if people like us on TV, but it doesn’t do us any good in terms of preparation. It’s nearly another day lost. We lose a day at one end, we lose a day at the other end. We got too many of them this year, but let’s deal with Chicago after Sunday.”

The Lions have six games this season that fall under the same week: two Sunday-Friday games, one Monday-Friday, one Wednesday-Saturday, one Saturday-Wednesday and one Wednesday-Sunday.

The least amount of rest days Orlando will have this season is two days when the Lions travel to play the New York Red Bulls and Vancouver Whitecaps on July 13 and July 16, respectively.

Follow Mike Gramajo on Twitter (@byMikeGramajo). For more, also follow the OSJ on Twitter (@OSJSoccer).

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