The Colorado Rapids play the second and final regular season match up with an expansion side when the take on Orlando City at 5:30 PM Wednesday night. For the Rapids this presents another opportunity to grab a road point while Orlando City will be looking to shake off a weekend loss to Montreal Impact.
I had the opportunity to speak with Michael at The Mane Land about this match and here is what we chatted about:
Burgundy Wave: What is the update on the Orlando City stadium situation?
The Mane Land: The latest is that the ownership got sick of waiting around for the additional public funding that was supposed to top off the stadium (and had been approved and was simply awaiting a vote), and simply decided to fund the thing 100% privately. The club will own and operate its own stadium and have full control over what amenities, food and beverages, technology, etc. to include. And the city will benefit from getting property taxes from the land rather than owning the land as originally planned.
Orlando City has gone back to revise the original plans to make the stadium bigger. It was originally planned to seat 19,500 and now will be from 25-28K. If all goes well, it should open next summer, so the club will start play in the Citrus Bowl again next season.
BW: Tony Cascio and Danny Mwanga were picked up in the expansion draft. How much of an impact have these former Rapids players had?
TML: Virtually no impact at all, sadly. Cascio has been plagued by a back issue that has kept him out of the lineup most of the season. That's too bad, because he could have picked up valuable minutes with so many injuries and international absences this season. Mwanga has basically been persona non grata for Orlando City in that he can't get into the 18 unless guys are out and rarely has seen the field, although he did score a critical penalty last week, kicking the game winner in a PK shootout in U.S. Open Cup play against the Charleston Battery. He was the 10th shooter.
BW: What is the ceiling for Orlando City? They are right in the middle of the playoff chase and they are improving each week it seems. How far can they realistically go?
This team is built to be tough to play against. They typically take good care of the ball and control possession. They've done well against teams that likes to build the attack, but they can be vulnerable to clubs that like to concede possession and hit on counter attacks. But when they're on their game, the Lions don't give the ball away cheaply much, so counter-attacking teams don't get many opportunities.
As far as how far they can go, well, that remains to be seen. They'll need to improve in several areas to continue to amass enough points to make the playoffs, and depth can sometimes be an issue, especially with key Gold Cup absences coming up. But if they get in, they can be a dangerous team to play against. I think most fans would be quite happy with a playoff appearance in the first year.
Predicted Starting XI: Tally Hall; Luke Boden, Sean St. Ledger, Seb Hines, Rafael Ramos; Darwin Ceren, Cristian Higuita; Brek Shea, Kaká, Eric Avila; Cyle Larin
Predicted Result: I am terrible at predictions but I'll say 2-1 to Orlando City because I think they'll come out hard after being embarrassed on Saturday.
You can see my answers over at The Mane Land.