Orlando City SC and Minnesota United FC will meet on Thursday in the second of the two semi-finals in MLS is Back Tournament, as Minnesota's head coach Adrian Heath will face off against his old team. The ultimate prize is at stake - a place in the final of the first ever MLS is Back Tournament on August 11 to face Portland Timbers, who defeated Philadelphia Union 2-1 in the first semi-final.
Dom Dwyer is still out for Orlando, who defeated LAFC 5-4 on penalties in the quarter finals. Chris Mueller is a doubt with a shoulder injury. Those are the only concerns going into the final for the Lions, who have continued what has been a remarkable run to get this far in the tournament. How has this been possible? Well, for many it’s the continuation of an excellent job from new head coach Oscar Pareja, who seems to have the players fully bought in on his style of play in a remarkably short time. They’ve looked impressive so far, with a promising attacking line and a defense that looks much improved from last season.
For Minnesota, Ike Opara is definitely out, but Thomas Chacon and Romain Metanire are doubts for the game against Pareja's side. United have come through the tournament very much under the radar, as they weren't favored against either Columbus Crew or San Jose Earthquakes in the last 16 or the last 8 of MLS is Back respectively. They advanced on penalties in the last 16 before surprising many with a 4-1 thumping of the Earthquakes who had shown great form up until that point.
The "Adrian Heath Derby"?
The Englishman was part of the Orlando organization since it’s creation, where he guided them to two USL titles. He lasted just one-and-a-half seasons with Orlando in MLS before he and the club decided to part ways. Orlando’s best season in MLS came under the Englishman in their inaugural campaign back in 2015. Orlando have yet to beat Heath and United, as Minnesota have won two of the three meetings between the clubs, with the third being a 1-1 draw at Allianz Field last season.
Predicted line ups
Orlando City: Gallese, Moutinho, Jansson, Carlos, Ruan, Mendez, Rosell, Nani, Pereyra, Michel, Akindele.
Minnesota United: Miller, Gasper, Boxall, Aja, Dotson, Alonso, Gregus, Lod, Hayes, Finlay, Amarilla.
Timings and where to watch
Kick off is on Thurs, August 6 at 8:00 PM ET at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. You can catch it on ESPN 2 in the US or TVAS 2 in Canada.