Orlando City prepare for Chicago Fire matchup after opening day dramatics


Adrian Hernandez / Valencia Voice

Antonio Nocerino could be making his MLS debut on Friday against the Chicago Fire.

Soccer, like most sports, is a game of momentum and following Sunday’s dramatic 2-2 draw over Real Salt Lake, Orlando City have just that.

There’s good news and bad news for fans of Orlando City SC. When it hosts the Chicago Fire on Friday evening, star player Kaká will be forced to sit out his second consecutive match. However, newly acquired midfielder Antonio Nocerino is expected to make his MLS debut.

Kaká to Rest Thigh Strain

Orlando City head coach Adrian Heath gave reporters the first hint on Tuesday that Kaká would miss Friday’s game, saying that – despite his improving condition – there’s no sense in risking further injury this early in the season.

“He crossed a ball in training, stopped and felt something, and it got progressively worse, so he had to come off,” Heath told a local radio station this week. “He had a little bleed in there and we obviously had an MRI scan and it showed a grade-one tear, which is obviously not good but is the best it can be.”

Heath further explained that a grade three tear could mean months of recovery, but assured fans that proper precautions would be taken to keep Kaká as healthy as possible for the remainder of the season.

Due to the injury, Kaká has been released from Brazil’s World Cup squad for qualifying matches against Uruguay and Paraguay later this month. Heath put a positive spin on this, saying the move, while difficult for Kaká, is Orlando City’s gain.

Antonio Nocerino to Step In

While Kaká will watch from the sideline, newcomer Nocerino should be available to step in and make his MLS debut for the Lions. Heath feels like having Nocerino on the squad will help offset the loss of Kaká – noting that he’s already doing a fine job.

“His finishing is certainly good,” said Heath. “I didn’t think we got him for his finishing, but obviously some great finishing this morning. He’s a great personality. The one thing that’s come through, he’s only been here a couple of days and he’s already a really integral part of the group.”

What to Watch For

Aside from monitoring the effects of Kaká’s absence and new interest in Nocerino, fans should keep an eye out for some scoring. Orlando is coming off a noteworthy 2-2 draw with Real Salt Lake, in which both goals came during stoppage time, while Chicago is catching its breath after a 4-3 loss to NYCFC on opening weekend.

Louis East of MLS GB predicts a 3-1 Orlando City victory.


All photos by Adrian Hernandez / Valencia Voice