By Mike Gramajo
SANFORD, Fla. — The last time Orlando City Soccer Club went into the USL PRO playoffs as regular season champions?
2012. A year head coach Adrian Heath will always remember simply because it resulted into a shocking first-round defeat for the Lions. Heath isn’t, or letting, the past dictate Saturday’s performance when Orlando City welcomes the Harrisburg City Islanders, but constantly pinpoints back to 2012 as a lesson in defeat.
“We didn’t approach the game and we didn’t start well, but that’s what happens when you don’t prepare properly,” Heath said on the 2012 playoff loss. “All we can do is prepare properly. That’s the message we’ve been banging home. I expect no difference on Saturday.”
Orlando City and Harrisburg split the season series even, with both sides each having a victory both times they met. Orlando City, who have been unbeaten at home all season, have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, which is something Heath said is key heading into the postseason.
“We’ve worked hard to get home field advantage,” Heath said. “There’s no need to throw it away. I have much faith in this group that when we do play well, we have the tools to win the game. Now we want to win the game and go on the next stage of the playoffs.
Here’s more notes regarding OCSC’s first-round playoff match on Saturday:
Woszczynski receives nod to be starting goalkeeper against Harrisburg
After starting the last three matches for Orlando City, Heath looks to continue starting goalkeeper Carl Woszczynski in the playoffs.
“He [Woszczynski] will start the game on Saturday,” Heath confirmed with the OSJ.
Despite only making four appearances this season, Woszczynski has allowed one goal while recording two shutouts behind his 10 saves in 2014.
Ceren still on international duty, likely to miss first round
In the midst of the Copa CentroAmericana, Orlando City’s Darwin Ceren will miss Saturday’s encounter vs. Harrisburg after the El Salvador national team clinched a third place matchup against Panama.
“I think Darwin is back next week,” said Heath. “We have an arrangement that he comes back next week. I’m pleased for him, I don’t stop anybody from going to the national team because I think it’s important.”
Despite Los Guanacos already earning a 2015 Gold Cup berth, Heath expects Ceren to be back after the first round, that’s if Orlando City makes it past Harrisburg City.
Orlando City Injury updates
With a deadly attack that has scored a combined 56 goals (most all season) in the regular season, OCSC are entering the playoffs with all three of their available strikers injury-free.
Dennis Chin, Giuseppe Gentile and Corey Hertzog all trained with the team on Thursday morning, leaving Heath plenty of options to work with come game day.
Hertzog recently came back from a hamstring injury, while Chin also suffered earlier in season with his hamstring. Gentile, who’s been on form as of recent, might start up front against Harrisburg after previous games showed his partnership with Kevin Molino worked wonders in Orlando’s final third.
The only player that may not see any action on Saturday is defender Rafael Ramos, who picked up a knock earlier this week and practiced apart from the team on Thursday. Heath told the OSJ that he’s ‘50/50’ while refusing to place a timetable on his return.
Despite only playing four games this season, the former Benfica man is eligible for the USL PRO postseason given the five-games played rule applies only to players who are on loan from MLS teams. Therefore, midfielder Ian Christianson, on loan from New York Red Bulls, is ruled out for the remainder of the USL playoffs after only making three appearances for Orlando.
Tyler Turner, who suffered a quad injury and pulled out of the United States U-20 men's national team, trained with the team on Thursday, and could be a game-time decision after missing the last two weeks of the regular season.