Celebrate Father’s Day At Citrus Bowl As Orlando City Takes on Antigua Barricuda

Filed under: Orlando City Soccer,Orlando Events |

Fresh from a superb 2-1 win against Charleston Battery last weekend, Orlando City look to extend their lead at the top of the USL PRO league as they take on Antigua at Orlando’s Citrus Bowl tomorrow night.

The Lions look to avenge the only home loss of last season by beating Antigua for the fifth consecutive time, and the third this season.  Kickoff is set for 6:00 p.m.

The Lions have won their last four matches against the Barracudas dating back to last season, but all four of those games were played in Antigua. Last week’s win got the Lions back on track after losing their first game of the USL PRO season the previous weekend in Wilmington.

“We know the sort of problems Antigua will cause us – they’re big, they’re strong, they’re athletic,” said Orlando City Head Coach Adrian Heath.  “Our record against them has been very good, but every game has been competitive and I think [Sunday] is going to be the same.”

Antigua comes into the match after a long break in league play.  The Barracudas lost 3-1 to Charleston Battery last night and that was their first match in over a month.  During the break, the majority of the roster has been with the Antigua & Barbuda National Team for World Cup Qualifying as the Antiguans lost 3-1 to the United States (pictured above) a week ago in Tampa before drawing 0-0 with Jamaica last Tuesday in Antigua.

“I think they showed against the U.S., which is predominantly the [Barracudas] team, that they’re getting better,” said Heath (pictured above).  “I know if we treat them lightly and don’t give them the respect they deserve, then Sunday will be a difficult game for us.”

One advantage Orlando City will have had this week is the opportunity to recharge the batteries and get some rest.  The Lions are in the midst of a three game home run while Antigua spent their World Cup Qualifying training camp in Brandenton, played the US on Friday, returned to Antigua over the weekend for the Jamaica game, then left immediately for Charleston.  In total, the Barracudas have travelled approximately 4,900 miles in the last two weeks, most of it in the last four or five days.

“I think that’s our league,” said Heath.  “We had it recently where we had five games in 11 days or something like that.  It’s not easy.  This country is so big.  It takes you a day to get everywhere, and then you have the day of the game.  If I was in their position, I’d prefer to not have a game before they played us, but it is what it is.”

Orlando City’s win last week over Charleston was important not only for returning the Lions to their winning ways, but also because the team is showing signs that the dominant squad from 2011 is returning and playing to their potential.  Heath hopes his squad can continue that progress on Sunday.

“There were a lot of positives from the game against Charleston,” said Heath.  “I felt like we were a bit of our old selves.  We have to build on that.  Being five points clear and having two home games, we could put ourselves in a great position. All that starts on Sunday.”

The Lions will be without Max Griffin and Rob Valentino this week as both are recovering from hamstring injuries.  Jamie Watson is questionable for the match as it was discovered after the last match that Watson had a staph infection in his leg.  He returned to training during the week but he will have a fitness test prior to the game before a decision is made.

Returning to the line-up this week is Matt Luzunaris.  He has been absent since scoring the game-winner against Charlotte Eagles on May 26 due to an illness.  Anthony Pulis also returns to the line-up this week as he missed the last match as he was out of the country getting married.  Pulis has been in training all week and is expected to start on Sunday.

Player to Watch – Jean Alexandre:

Alexandre made an immediate impact last week, scoring seven minutes into his Orlando City debut (pictured above).  More importantly, he gave a different look to the City attack, adding a physical presence the club otherwise lacks. Sunday is scheduled to be his last match with the club, so look for Alexandre push to make a lasting impression.

Though the match is slated to be Alexandre’s last, Heath and the Lions are actively trying to bring him back from San Jose, or possibly keep him around for the next few weeks.

“We’re going to speak to San Jose in the next day or so,” said Heath on Thursday.  “They play at the weekend, so hopefully after their game they’ll see that everybody is fit and well [on the the San Jose roster] and we can keep [Jean] for another week or two.”

Available Roster:

Miguel Gallardo, Sean Kelley, Wes Allen, Kieron Bernard, Luke Boden, Justin Clark, Kyle Davies, Jerome Mechack, Erik Ustruck, Charlie Campbell, Ian Fuller, Kevin Molino, James O’Connor, Anthony Pulis, John Rooney, Jean Alexandre, Dennis Chin, Matt Luzunaris, Jamie Watson

More pictures from last weeks game v Charleston at www.FloridaLeisurePhotography.com

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