Orlando City is in a good spot right now—a good one, but not a comfortable one. Sitting in the No. 6 spot in the Eastern Conference, the Lions would make the playoffs if the Major League Soccer regular season ended today.
But it doesn’t.
Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Galaxy will mark the beginning of the proverbial home stretch for the Lions as they try to solidify that playoff spot. Orlando City is coming off a dominating 4-1 thumping of the No. 5 Montreal Impact on Wednesday, and that was without the team’s two leading scorers.
Orlando forward Cyle Larin and midfielder Kevin Molino were both called up to their respectiveW national teams for orld Cup qualifying matches, but they have since returned and traveled to meet the team in Los Angeles. Larin has recorded 13 goals while Molino has notched nine of his own.
Though, it looked as if City fared just fine on the offensive end without Larin and Molino. That was something Lions head coach Jason Kreis was confident about going into his team’s road trip.
“We believe that we have other players that are attackingly gifted, and they’re guys that can score goals,” Kreis said after training on Sept. 2.
The Captain recorded his second multi-goal performance in his MLS career when he notched two goals against Montreal. Before that, he scored twice in a 2-1 win over New York City FC on Aug. 28.
Rivas also notched his second goal of the season when he scored the Lions’ fourth goal against Montreal in the 77th minute.
As for Bruce Arena’s side, the biggest story seems to be the injuries the No. 4 team in the Western Conference has sustained recently—and, of course, the player who will look to fill the void they left. Los Angeles forward Gyasi Zardes, midfielder Steven Gerrard and Jelle Van Damme have all been sidelined with injuries. That spurred MLS’s all-time leading scorer Landon Donovan to come out of retirement.
Donovan is expected to only play a substitution role. He has not played in a professional match since Oct. 25, 2014, when his team lost 2-0 to the Seattle Sounders.
“Since my retirement, I have remained in close contact with many of the staff and players on the Galaxy,” Donovan wrote on Facebook. “I spoke with some of them that week, and they jokingly asked if I was ready to make a return to he field to help fill some of the void left by the injuries and departures… Over the ensuing days, I began to think about their inquiries, and it struck me that perhaps this is something I could consider.”
Zardes and Gerrard combined for nine goals. Giovani dos Santos, the Galaxy’s leading scorer with 12 goals, is still available. He’s notched three so far this month.
Kickoff at StubHub Center is set for 7 p.m. ET.