|(Photo OSJ File)|
By Mike Gramajo
SANFORD — It may seem like it’s early in the season, but Orlando City SC is playing their best USL PRO season in franchise history after an unbeaten start (9-0-3), which has them sitting in first place with 30 points, and six points clear from second place LA Galaxy II.
“I think we’re getting better,” OCSC head coach Adrian Heath told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s been a process, I still don’t think we’re 100 percent.”
The Lions will embark into inter-league play at home this Saturday when they welcome the Montreal Impact Reserves at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
The biggest question heading into this weekend’s matchup is whether Heath has the right tools to approach the game after three of his starters will be missing due to international call-ups, while two remain unclear due to lingering injuries.
“When one door closes for one, another one opens for somebody else,” Heath said. “I will never stop my players from playing. Kevin Molino is playing against (Sergio) Aguero, and (Lionel) Messi, the last game before the World Cup when they leave Buenos Aires, probably in front of 80,000 people.
“Darwin (Ceren) will be playing against the European and World champions, so we couldn’t stop them, and I never do because I know how much it meant to me when I played for my country. We didn’t have to release anybody because they weren’t FIFA mandated dates. I know what Kevin Molino would be like if I told him he can’t go play against Argentina. We have a squad of players, 23 players, that will have the opportunity for the guys to step in and show they can hold a regular spot.”
OCSC will be without the services of Tommy Redding (United States U18), Darwin Ceren (El Salvador) and Kevin Molino (Trinidad & Tobago) for the match against the Impact Reserves. However, they will be available for Orlando when they host the Orange County Blues on Wednesday, June 11.
Here’s more on what Heath said during Wednesday’s team training:
Heath comments on final USL PRO season and Louisville City
After reports surfaced around Orlando City selling its USL PRO franchise to an ownership group in Louisville, Kentucky, Adrian Heath shed more light on Louisville City FC, USL PRO’s newest team.
“I think I’m just ‘USL’ed’ out,” Heath jokingly said. “No disrespect, I don’t want to go to Pittsburgh on Friday night, and travel to Rochester the next day. The league has been very good to us. For some of our younger players now next year they’ll end up in Louisville, even some of the players we draft next year will go.”
U.S. Open Cup potential fifth round pairings drawn
Orlando City has yet to kick off their fourth round U.S. Open Cup match at MLS’ Colorado Rapids, but that’s not stopping them from knowing who they might potentially play if they get through the Rapids.
“We got a very difficult game,” Heath said. “I guarantee they (Colorado) won’t play their reserve team, it’ll be good if they do, but they won’t.”
The Lions are scheduled to visit Dick’s Sporting Goods Park on June 17 during Open Cup play against the Rapids. However, if Orlando manages to claim victory, they will host the next round of the domestic tournament against the winners of the Real Salt Lake/Atlanta Silverbacks match on June 24 at the ESPN WWOS.
Updates on Dennis Chin, Rob Valentino and trialists
Almost halfway through the 2013 season, Orlando City has been fortunate to not have a plethora of players out because of injury.
And to add more optimism to Saturday’s match against the Impact, forward Dennis Chin was seen training with the squad, doing running drills and even participating in the teams scrimmages.
Chin has been out for almost two weeks after picking up a hamstring injury.
If Chin is able to get the nod by Heath to play on Saturday, he will more than likely come at a time after Corey Hertzog looks to get a scoring streak started after scoring his first league goal last weekend.
Defender Rob Valentino, however, was not training with the squad. The veteran defender was seen doing some routine stretches alone. Valentino did tell the OSJ that he’s day-to-day, but did not comment on a return.
Meanwhile, highly-targeted trialist Kane Hemmings regained training with Orlando alongside Brek Shea, who is training with the squad until next week. Orlando City officials would not comment if the trialist’s have a future with the club.