Match: Harrisburg City Islanders at Orlando City B
Date: Wednesday, August 2nd
Time: 7:30 p.m. Eastern, 6:30 p.m. Central, 4:30 p.m. Pacific, 11:30 p.m. UTC
Venue: Orlando City Stadium (Orlando, FL)
How Orlando will look: Orlando had a solid performance on Saturday when they traveled to Charleston and held the Battery to a 0-0 draw. That’s Orlando’s current form in a nutshell. They have been solid on defense, but they haven’t been able to generate much offense. They’re currently on a five match unbeaten streak, but it’s not a particularly impressive one because they had one win and four draws.
Orlando just got some exciting news this week as Pierre da Silva was named number one on the USL 20 under 20 countdown. That’s a big achievement, but it may not have much of an impact on Wednesday’s match. After all, da Silva is signed to the parent club, and he hasn’t made an appearance in Orlando City B’s last three matches.
How Harrisburg will look: Harrisburg had an ugly loss against FC Cincinnati during their last match over a week ago. Hopefully the City Islanders have been able to shake off the defeat and enjoy the time off to rest and rehabilitate. They’ll need it, since they’re playing at Orlando on Wednesday and then traveling straight to Tampa Bay on Saturday.
It’ll be interesting to see who all Harrisburg brings to Florida (I just assume that they’re not coming back to PA in between matches). The City Islanders had half a dozen players dealing with either serious or nagging injuries and it’s difficult to determine if the extra time off means that any of them will be ready to reappear in the starting XI. There’s a good possibility that any players with lingering issues will be left in PA to save them for next week’s matches. One player who will be sorely missed if he can’t get back to the field yet is Mo Dabo. He had been playing a major role in kick-starting the Harrisburg attack, but he appeared to pick up a pretty bad ankle injury against Charlotte.
One player you won’t see in Jaime Thomas. He got into some yellow card trouble again, and he’ll be suspended for this match.
(Editor’s note: Thomas had a previous yellow rescinded due to good behavior and will be available for selection. Thanks to the Islanders for pointing that out.)
What to expect: The first Harrisburg-Orlando clash in 2017 was a bit of a dud. Neither side had many goal scoring chances, and the ball stayed in the midfield for most of the match. A big part of that is that both teams are very strong in the goalkeeper position. Orlando’s Earl Edwards Jr. dominates the box and he has collected six clean sheets so far in 2017. Harrisburg’s Brandon Miller is right behind him with five clean sheets of his own. With these guys in net, don’t expect to see many goals.
Harrisburg has the advantage on paper because they come into the match with extra rest. However, that could easily be cancelled out by their poor performance on the road so far this season. Out of the twenty-three points that they’ve earned for 2017, only seven were won on the road. Their only win on the road since the second week of the season was against basement dwelling Toronto FC II. But this disadvantage may not be as much of an issue during the visit to Orlando, because OCB hasn’t developed much of a home field advantage this year. They’ve only won one match at home in 2017 (also against Toronto).
The most important thing to consider for this midweek clash is the playoff implications. Harrisburg sits at 10th in the East and Orlando is in 11th place courtesy of a tie-breaker. A win on Wednesday could propel either team into 8th place and help separate them from the log jam forming in the middle of the Eastern Conference table. A draw wouldn’t be much help for either side. If things are still knotted up late in the match, expect both sides to push hard for all three points.
PREDICTION: Orlando hasn’t been able to generate much offense, but Harrisburg has had problems on the road all season. I’m predicting they repeat the outcome from their last match, another 1-1 draw.