Orlando City’s season-opener couldn’t have been more of a thriller. In front of 60,147 fans, Cyle Larin and Adrian Winter scored two stoppage-time goals that would culminate in a 2-2 tie against Real Salt Lake.
But it has been five days since that stunning comeback. Home attendance will be cut in half with the end of the #FillTheBowlAgain campaign, and it’s now time to come back to reality.
On Friday at 7 p.m., the Chicago Fire (0-1-0, 0 points) enter the Citrus Bowl as the Lions’ second regular-season opponent. Last season, the Lions (0-0-1, 1 point) matched up favorably against the Windy City team, finishing with a 2-1-1 record.
The Lions will need to muster some goals of their own this time around, though. In four matches against the Fire last season, Chicago managed three own goals, two coming in a 3-2 Lions victory and one coming in a 1-1 tie.
Projected starting XI
Fortunately for the Lions, Larin, who scored twice in four matches against the Fire — once as a substitute — will be match-ready. Unfortunately, perennial team captain and last year’s leading assist man Ricardo Kaká will once again be out with a thigh strain he sustained in the days leading up to the team’s season-opener.
In addition to the sidelined-captains list, Darwin Cerén will also be benched after he picked up a first-half red card against Real Salt Lake.
Reinforcements are here, though, as Italian national teamer and Orlando City’s latest addition Antonio Nocerino will be suiting up in the purple kit for regular-season action. Along with Nocerino, Cristian Higuita will be suiting up for the first time this season, after serving his one-game suspension for a red card he earned against the Philadelphia Union in the last game of the 2015 season.
“He’s got a great personality. You think he’s been here three years, not three minutes, but he’s going to be a really good addition. Obviously, he’s a really great footballer, and I didn’t realize his finishing was as good as it was after yesterday,” said Lions head coach Adrian Heath on Nocerino at training on Wednesday.
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