One of the best players in the world will make his debut at Rio Tinto. With Kaka leading Orlando City SC and Javier Morales leading Real Salt Lake, both skippers will do their best to secure sometimes allusive points during this roller coaster of a season for both sides. This match holds all the potential to be electric as both sides will try to keep their ship afloat during the treacherous summer months. As both clubs continue to adjust under new circumstances, RSL will look to get their first win against the expansion side.
About the clubs
Orlando City SC
Their first year started off rough but Adrian Heath has started to get the hang of the league. Boasting only one loss in the last month - the other three wins - Orlando is starting to look more impressive. Filled with young talent, this team appears to be fully embracing the lion that represents them. The team's lineup has started to settle since injuries derailed earlier experiments (namely the Brek Shea wingback experiment). For all this talk about how Orlando is finally gelling, the club's inability to connect with their young center forwards has continued to be it Achilles Heel. This could prove to be the defining factor in the match as RSL's preferred backline is still not fully available.
Predicted OCSC Starting XI (4-3-3): Hall; Boden, St. Ledger, Seb Hines, Ramos; Ceren, Kaka, Higuita; Rivas, Ribeiro, Avila.
Real Salt Lake
The home side will round out its five matches in 13 days stretch against Orlando. The stretch has not been particularly kind nor aggravating for RSL as they have maintained a 2-1-1 record. Despite showing some incremental improvements over the last two weeks, including getting Sebastian Jaime into the attack, Jeff Cassar will be keen to keep a winning record at Rio Tinto intact.
Injuries and suspensions have continued to be a torn in the side of RSL and they do not appear to be alleviated any time soon. Jordan Allen will miss this match due to a red card obtained against the Columbus Crew, but Morales will make his return after serving his one match suspension. The backline continues to be in flux but the return of Elias Vasquez should be a welcomed sight for both the coaching staff and the fans.
With RSL still on the outside looking in on the battle for potential playoff spots, the club will likely rely on the good form of its attacking corps as the defense continues to build chemistry.
Predicted RSL Starting XI (4-3-3): Attinella; Beltran, Olave, Vasquez, Phillips; Gil, Morales, Mulholland; Garcia, Jaime, Plata.
Players to Watch
Orlando City SC - Kaka
The Brazilian legend was signed as OCSC's first designated player. The 33 year old creative midfielder boasts a 0.5 goal per match average and has been able to cut through MLS defenses like butter. In other words, Kaka is more than a proven threat for any opponent. Kaka found it difficult to connect with his teammates early on but has now began to pull the strings of his side's attack allowing him to become Orlando's top scoring and assist leader. With his pedigree, expect Kaka to be a handful for the RSL defense who might end up missing Kyle Beckerman at the end of the day.
Real Salt Lake - Sebastian Jaime
It took a while for the Argentine to open up his account with RSL but Jaime has remained the hottest player on the side scoring in three of the last four matches. The Claret-and-Cobalt have had their fair share of scoring woes this year but could Jaime's emergence be the spark the side needs? While eyes might be on other players to get the spectacular goals, Jaime's workhorse attitude could be the difference when in the box. While he might not score the most acrobatic or awe-inspiring goals, the simple goals that Jaime creates could be the difference at the end of the day.
Key to the Match
Orlando City SC
If the beasts on the block hope to dethrone the traditional "King of the Jungle" they will have to connect with the forward three. This has been a continuing feature of the side this year which has cost them some points along the way. If RSL's wingers really excel in their defensive duties, OCSC could get lulled into a false sense of security. Even if they are able to hold up the ball, stopping defensive penetration is something that RSL will have focused on this week so Orlando cannot just start thumping balls up field with no target in mind. The expansion side will have to be calm, cool and collected if they hope to get anything out of this match.
Real Salt Lake
Simple, stopping any run of play down the center of the pitch should be the goal for the Claret-and-Cobalt. If RSL can clog the most direct lane to their goal then RSL has a real chance of shutting down Kaka who operates in the center of the pitch. With all eyes on the home side, can RSL manage to stop the flow of much needed points to their opponents? While it may be business as usual for Real Salt Lake, Orlando has the potential to create astonishing moments of pure "Disney" magic.
Catch the match Saturday July 4 at Rio Tinto or on KMYU at 8 p.m. MDT.
We'd like to know what you think. Do you think that there is anything we missed? Are there aspects of this match that we overlooked? What do you think this match means to Real Salt Lake? Will Jaime be the defining factor? Can RSL keep its "King of the Jungle" title in tact against Orlando? Share your opinions in the comments section below.