|Philly doesn't want to come out|
A wise man once said, “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” Our friends are obviously Orlando City, but this coming Saturday our one and only enemy is the Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer. This marks just the beginning of our journey through the Lion’s third appearance at the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic. This weekend also marks the third time the boys in purple have met the Northeast club in preseason. Having never fallen to the Union, Orlando holds a 1-0 win in the inaugural year at the Citrus Bowl and a hard fought 1-1 draw to start off 2012 with a BANG.
With Philly having made a few offseason changes themselves, let us take a moment to get to know our enemy a little better...
ENEMY: Wasting no time, on December 6th, 2012, fan favorite Sebastian Le Toux was brought back to PPL Park in exchange for allocation money and player rights to Josue Martinez for the New York Red Bulls. The Frenchman himself admitted he never felt right in New York and really missed his fans back in The City of Brotherly Love.
FRIEND: On the opposite end of the pitch, look for your Lions center backs to slow down the speedy Number 11. With the brute force of Rob Valentino and Kieron Bernard along with the matched speed of Justin Clark, he will have his work cut out for him. Will you see a double amount of brute force to stop Le Toux in his tracks? Or will it be combined with speed from Clark to stop the Mont-Saint-Aignan native’s sneaky runs?
ENEMY: The very next day Philadelphia Union further strengthened their defense next to the Colombian international Carlos Valdez (once back on loan from Independiente Santa Fe) with a trade that brought United States international Jeff Parke from Seattle in exchange for allocation money and a first-round pick in the MLS Supplemental Draft. The American returns home after playing his youth career with local powerhouse FC Delco and at the college level with Philly’s own Drexel University.
FRIEND: With only two forwards currently listed on the Orlando City roster in Dennis Chin and Jamie Watson, it is more likely that the Oviedo native would play alone up top with Watson playing a withdrawn behind the Number 15. Until Valdez is back from his loan in native Colombian First Division, look for Ray Gaddis to sit next to Parke. A midfielder in college, he was converted to center back after being drafted last season. His speed could certainly match our Chinny. The former West Virginia Mountaineer even made the Soccer By Ives 2012 MLS All-Rookie Best XI.
ENEMY: On December 14th, the Blue & Gold made their third big move of the season. During the Re-Entry Draft, Stage 2 they selected forward Conor Casey whose contract was not renewed with the Colorado Rapids. The New England native provides the Union what they have lacked: someone to hold the ball up top for them. His size allows him to hold off opposing players while the midfield get up the pitch to receive the ball and makes plays.
FRIEND: You know who else has size? Our previously mentioned Orlando City center back pairing of Kieron Bernard and Rob Valentino. Mr. Luke Boden, our gifted English (he sounds Australian, though) left back is no small boy either. Then there’s our brother from Haiti, Mechack Jerome (currently on trial with Sporting Kansas City, who we could possibly face on Championship Day at Disney) has quite the large build to himself too. No word to whether he will be playing for the Lions, Kansas City, or both during the Pro Soccer classic, though. With such a solid defensive line, Casey had better get chugging on the protein shakes this minute.
How well do you know your enemy? Let us know your thoughts in a comment below!