Brazilian International and global icon Kaká is set to miss a second successive MLS match for Orlando City on Friday against the Chicago Fire at the Florida Citrus Bowl. Reports indicate he could return for the Lions trip to face 2015 expansion cousins New York City FC at Yankee Stadium on March 18. Without Kaká in Sunday’s opener against Real Salt Lake, Brek Shea began the game in a central attacking midfield role. Shea’s impact filling in a number ten position was questionable – he was given the man of the match award by club sponsors but quite frankly drifted in and out of the match until being pushed back to his natural left-sided wide position late on with the Lions chasing the game.
Shea’s movement off-the-ball was excellent on Sunday, but his linkup play with Forward Cyle Larin and other attacking players was hit or miss in the final third until he was moved back to the left side. But the US Men’s National Team player proved he could play in the middle of the pitch if needed.
The sending off of Darwin Ceren and resulting suspension opens a spot in the side for Antonio Nocerino the newly signed Designated Player (DP) who has bounced around from club to club in Europe the last few seasons. But the Lions will also have Cristian Higuita back from suspension as well as potentially having Carlos Rivas back. Rivas is unlikely to start when both Shea and Kevin Molino are fit, but as a left-sided player he could feature against Chicago because Shea may play again in the middle of the pitch.
The possibility of Nocerino who has played as a holding midfielder operating in a box-to-box fashion playing higher up the pitch in Orlando’s five man midfield could be explored by Head Coach Adrian Heath. That would push Shea back to the left side where he could work operate in tandem with Molino in a fashion that was effective on Sunday and last season before Molino’s injury in April.
Chicago is considered by most experts who follow Major League Soccer one of the least competitive sides in MLS. Beating the Fire at home is an absolute must for the Lions. Chicago went through a major front office transition this past off-season and lost its season opener at home to New York City 4-3.