After a quick trip back home to face the Charlotte Eagles at ESPN Wide World of Sports this past weekend, Orlando City SC returns to the road for Saturday night matchup with the Harrisburg City Islanders at the Skyline Sports Complex in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
The return to home went as well as the team could have hoped, beating the Eagles by a final score of 4-1, coming off of their first loss of the season a week before, and also running on a two-game scoreless streak, their longest such streak of the season, by far. The win also clinched Orlando City a playoff berth for the fourth consecutive year, and now they’ll look to locking up the top spot with two games in hand over the Richmond Kickers, who are holding things close in the USL PRO standings, trailing Orlando by just four points heading into Saturday.
Sitting in sixth place in the league standings, the Islanders enter the game on a three match winning streak as they look to make it four with a win over Orlando, who will clearly have a target on their back for every remaining match this season.
Date: August 9th, 2014
Kick-Off: 6 p.m. ET
Location: Skyline Sports Complex in Harrisburg, PA
Live Stream: YouTube.com/CityIslanders
Harrisburg City Islanders (7-8-6), 27 points, 6th place
The Islanders, as I mentioned, are riding in on a three-game winning streak after Wednesday’s victory against the New York Red Bulls Reserves. Harrisburg have been playing well, overall, for the past few weeks, going 3-1-1 in their last five matches — they also rattled off wins against LA Galaxy II and the Dayton Dutch Lions.
In good form, they’ll give the Lions a challenge on Saturday night, with forward Pedro Ribeiro, who is currently on-loan from the Philadelphia Union, also playing well for the Islanders at the top of the field. The striker netted a pair of goals in the 3-1 win over the Red Bulls Reserves.
Harrisburg lost five of their first eight games to kick off the 2014 USL PRO season before turning things around to play some better soccer lately, as they make a push for the USL PRO playoffs in September. Time is winding down for the Islander, who have just seven games remaining, including two against Orlando City.
Orlando City SC (15-1-4), 49 points, 1st place
The Lions had trouble scoring goals during a two-game road trip that saw them score not a single goal in a draw with Sacramento Republic FC, and a 1-0 loss against the Rochester Rhinos. But Orlando City came home to run all over Charlotte, getting a pair of goals from Kevin Molino, who enters with 13 in 19 games on the season.
Molino has been the team’s leading goal-scorer all season long, and was even leading the charge in USL PRO for a couple of months before he slowed down and eventually passed by Richmond Kickers forward Matthew Delicate, who has 14 goals in 21 games. Molino, though, still leads the league in points with 33, as his seven assists are also tied for the most in the league.
Orlando City will be without two key starters, Darwin Cerén and Luke Boden, who are serving a one game suspension for accumulation of yellow cards which they gathered in the loss to Rochester — per league rules, the suspension wouldn’t take place until seven days after the 5th yellow card, letting them play against Charlotte last weekend.
The Lions have eight games remaining this season, with two of them against Harrisburg — they met again in their next match on August 16. They also have two games to play against the Kickers, who are making things interesting at the top of the table.
Prediction: The Islanders are playing well, but I think that Orlando City will get the job done on Saturday night with a 2-0 win. Miguel Gallardo will throw down his 9th cleansheet of the season, and Adama Mbengue and Giuseppe Gentile — coming off of the bench — will lead the way with both City goals.
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