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Opposition 11: How will Orlando City SC line up Wednesday night against D.C. United?

OCSC will look slightly different from last month's meeting.

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Adrian Heath's Orlando City has proven to be a tactically flexible bunch, which is a surprise for an expansion team. Generally, these teams are built from scratch with a specific formation and style in mind; while Heath's side is very committed to an attack-minded gameplan that treasures possession, the fact is that in terms of formation they're as willing to experiment as any MLS club.

First, they showed up as advertised: A narrow 4231 which relied on fullbacks for whatever width was created. They've also played a 4141 that saw Kaka shuttle out to the left wing. They've deployed the "Christmas Tree" 4321 that was popular for years in Serie A (where Kaka, as you may have heard, spent some time). They tried a 433. They'd defend out of a a 442 and then attack from the old 4231. And so on and so forth. An injury and national team call-up crisis even pushed them into a 541/343 that was not dissimilar to what Costa Rica used during their run to the quarterfinals of last summer's World Cup.

Fortunately for D.C. United fans, it seems that things have stabilized. The 4231 that was originally Plan A is more or less what's being used in central Florida these days, though Kevin Molino's ACL tear and the subsequent moves that followed have added some width to the midfield quintet. The revolving door up front has slowed now that rookie Cyle Larin has found his feet. The #8 role in central midfield has been claimed after Heath basically held open auditions in February and March. This isn't a complicated lineup to predict, especially as Orlando's short rest - five days since they played, four until they play again - is not going to enforce much of a rotation.

5/13/2015 Orlando lineup

Donovan Ricketts remains in goal as Tally Hall's recovery from last season's torn ACL is not yet complete. Ahead of him, I see no changes from last week coming. That means Rafael Ramos - surprisingly snubbed by Portugal ahead of the under-20 World Cup - will remain at right back. Ramos had a dramatic game against the Revs last week, making a huge error to give New England their second goal but also whipping in a fine cross to get Orlando their first goal at home since their first-ever MLS match.

Aurelien Collin and Seb Hines will team up in central defense. They'll be strong in the air and great at emergency defending, but they end up scrambling so much because they aren't particularly great at anticipating danger (though that flaw extends further forward, making their task more difficult). Luke Boden is likely to remain at left back due to Molino's injury, which has seen Brek Shea move up into the midfield. Boden was touted as one of the USL Orlando City's most MLS-ready players, and he has looked solid enough when called upon.

In defensive midfield, Amobi Okugo is out due to yellow card accumulation. Cristian Higuita will step in, but he plays the role a bit differently. Okugo likes to stay very deep, whereas last week Higuita - who came on for the former Union midfielder at halftime - tried to stay a few yards further upfield. This gave Kaka an extra option and helped the Lions chase the game against New England, but it also left a big gap between midfield and defense. Darwin Ceren has become the starter in the other defensive midfield spot in recent weeks, but he's not going to drop deep to fill that space.

Shea being moved up to the left wing has meant a move to the right for Eric Avila. In both cases, that has added some width that previously didn't exist. Molino would play very narrow from the right, and Avila was inverted on the left. That gave Kaka more short-passing options in the middle, but it also made it easier for teams to crowd the Brazilian star out.

Up front, Larin is rounding into form of late. United is going to have to keep him well-marked, because his speed, strength, and leaping ability make him a threat on crosses and at getting in behind. There's a chance he could be rotated out after Friday's game against the Revs, but that seems unlikely.

As for substitutes, look for Bryan Rochez to come in at some point (whether it's to give Larin a rest or to go with two up front will depend on the scoreboard). The Honduran teenager's departure for under-20 World Cup duty was delayed so he could be available for this game, and though he is very raw it seems that Heath is making sure he gets minutes as often as possible.

Carlos Rivas is another option. The Colombian was supposed to be Orlando's starting left winger, but injuries and his adjustment to MLS have seen that job go elsewhere. Rivas has spent some time up front and out on the right as well, and his speed could prove to be a game-changer for Heath no matter what the score is. Players like Tyler Turner (at right back) and Harrison Heath (central midfield) could also get in with OCSC's game against LA in mind.