But the LAFC side that takes the pitch at Exploria Stadium for Saturday’s clash with Orlando City SC (7:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US, on DAZN in Canada) will look dramatically different from the usual version of the Black & Gold.
Bob Bradley’s side are missing seven players to international duty, and Carlos Vela is still nursing a hamstring strain and seems unlikely to suit up in Florida. That opens the door for several LAFC reserves to stake a claim to bigger roles – while also providing a spark of hope for the host Lions, who desperately need a victory if they are to remain in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
Eduard Atuesta (Colombia U-23s), Mark-Anthony Kaye (Canada), Diego Palacios (Ecuador), Brian Rodriguez (Uruguay), Peter-Lee Vassell (Jamaica), Rodolfo Zelaya (El Salvador) and Walker Zimmerman (USA) are all away with their national teams at present. That removes a huge chunk of Bradley’s first-choice XI from contention. Here’s one potential lineup that could feature in Florida:
The LAFC technical staff will surely be eager to see a strong collective response to last week’s shock 2-0 loss to Minnesota United, their first home setback of the season in league play, and Bradley has stated he expects his side to maintain their usual proactive, possession-centric style.
“We've got all sorts of guys that are getting opportunities with their national teams, but the group that's here is excited,” the head coach said this week. “Obviously it means that for some players, opportunities to be on the field will be there this weekend. and we go still to try to figure out how to be at our best, play our football and win.”
For their part, Orlando are 0-2-1 in their last three and games and sit ninth in the East standings, four points back of Toronto FC, who currently hold the final postseason slot. With another away match coming up at Philadelphia next weekend, LAFC will remain on the East Coast after playing OCSC and train in Pennsylvania during the week.