New opportunity awaits Orlando City

It’s been over a month since the last time Orlando City and the Philadelphia Union faced off at Talen Energy Stadium on April 3.

A controversial call from referee Jair Marrufo late in the game resulted into a 2-1 defeat for the Lions and what transpired next for Orlando City seemed destined to define the season if the necessary changes weren’t made.

A lot has happened since their last meeting: A six-game winless run for Orlando that eventually ended this past weekend in a 2-1 victory over the Montreal Impact, and Philadelphia’s ascension to first place in the Eastern conference.

Orlando City hosts the Union on Wednesday at Camping World Stadium at 7:30 p.m.

And despite the controversy that occurred in their last meeting, the Lions have a different perspective heading into midweek action. They aren’t seeking revenge, but a new opportunity to continue the climb up the Eastern conference table.

“It’s a new opportunity, and we want to get three points,” said Lions defender Kevin Alston. “We were on a six-game winless streak, and we just want to build-off of last game and just get better each game.”

The Union’s rise to the Eastern conference summit doesn’t surprise the former New England Revolution defender. It’s the nature of the league, he says.

“It’s MLS that’s how it goes,” said Alston. “There’s a lot of change in this league, and I’ve always said any team can beat any team at any game. It happens every year, you never know who’s going to be on top and who’s going to be in the bottom. It’s just a lot of turnover, I’m not surprised by how close it is, especially in the east right now.”

Orlando City head coach Adrian Heath praised his team’s resiliency after initially battling an early 1-0 deficit during last Saturday’s 2-1 win over Montreal. Heath said his players battled until the final minute, parallel to Jim Curtin’s Philadelphia side that secured a 1-0 victory over DC United last Friday after Richie Marquez scored in stoppage time for the Union.

“Our own form has been very good, we go back a long way before we lost at home. Traditionally we’ve done OK against Philadelphia, but they’re coming in with a probably different mindset than they have in the past,” said Heath on Wednesday’s game. “They’re top of the [East], they’re full of confidence, and it’s going to be a difficult game for us.”

Orlando City are currently sitting in playoff contention with 14 points in sixth place in the Eastern conference. A victory on Wednesday will provisionally catapult the Lions into second place with 17 points.

Injury report

Defenders Seb Hines (knee) and Rafael Ramos (hamstring) have been officially ruled out for Wednesday’s game against Philadelphia, according to Heath.

Heath added there isn’t a timeline on the return of both players.

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