The San Jose Earthquakes visit the Camping World Stadium for the first time in what will be an emotional match for everyone involved.
Orlando City SC (3-3-7, 16 points) will make their long awaited return to the pitch Saturday night, after a three week league-wide break for the Copa America Centenario. They will host the Western Conference’s San Jose Earthquakes (5-4-5, 20 points) in what will be an emotional night for the fans, players, and city of Orlando as a community due to it being the first major sporting event in Orlando since last Sunday’s tragic attack at an Orlando nightclub.
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The Lions are coming off of a mid-week 1-0 victory over the Jacksonville Armada, in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. The win, in which center back David Mateos notched his first goal in purple and Antonio Nocerino earned his first assist since joining Orlando City from AC Milan, put the Lions through to the Round of 16 in the tournament. Up next for them in the cup is another Florida state rival in the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers.
The Lions will be without a few key players tonight. Captain Ricardo Kaka will be sidelined with a thigh injury he suffered while training with the Brazilian National Team. Right back Rafael Ramos (hamstring) and midfielder Darwin Ceren (high ankle sprain) will also be out for Adrian Heath’s side. This is the lineup I expect him to start tonight:
The Earthquakes will be without their stat player, forward Chris Wondowlowski, who’s with Jurgen Klinnsman and the United States Men’s National Team, getting ready to play the winner of tonight’s Argentina-Venezuela match in the Copa America Semifinal.
The Lions and Earthquakes have only met once previously in Major League Soccer play. Last May, a line up that featured four players that are no longer with Orlando City, Sean St Ledger, Eric Avila, Amobi Okugo, and Martin Paterson, played to a 1-1 draw at San Jose’s temporary home, Levi’s Stadium.
Despite a 51st minute red card for Brek Shea, the Lions took the lead via a 64th minute penalty conversion from Kaka, which was cancelled out just four minutes later when Wondolowski stuck one in from the spot.
The goal for “Wondo” was a historic one, it made him only the eighth player in Major League Soccer history to reach the 100 goal milestone.
The Orlando City front office has been working with the OneOrlando fund to set up quite a few ways for fans to show their pride in Orlando in the wake of the Pulse Nightclub shootings.
The club has officially dedicated the match to the victims of the catastrophic event. Commemorative recognitions include t-shirts and posters that will be sold at the game, with all proceeds being donated to the OneOrlando fund. Tickets are being donated to first responders and support service personnel. There will be a pre-game ceremony and an in-game moment of silence.