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Orlando City SC vs. Earthquakes -- Match Preview

The San Jose Earthquakes return to the field in Orlando after the long international break. With Orlando still reeling from the Pulse nightclub shootings, the city's soccer team has dedicated this weekend's game to #OrlandoUnited. Nerdy Gales asked three questions of Michael Citro over at The Mane Land - what can we expect on, and off, the field on Saturday? Find Nerdy's answers to their three questions here.

Lyndsay Radnedge | Center Line Soccer
Kaka suffered a thigh injury during COPA America, and is recuperating in Brazil and will be unavailable for Saturday's game.  When will he return, and who will fill the void in the meantime?

Kaká's absence shouldn't be too much longer [/furiously knocks on wood until it splinters] but in the meantime the usual route taken by Adrian Heath is to either play Julio Baptista in the middle or slide Kevin Molino over into the central attacking midfielder role. With Baptista playing a large role Wednesday in a U.S. Open Cup win over Jacksonville Armada, I'd expect the latter for Saturday.

The likeliest move is to push Molino to the middle with Adrian Winter on the right and Carlos Rivas on the left in a 4-2-3-1. However, the gaffer could also just play Molino and Winter in the attack with striker Cyle Larin and line up in more of a 4-3-2-1 or 4-3-3, putting Harrison Heath or Antonio Nocerino in the defensive midfield with Servando Carrasco and Cristian Higuita (with Darwin Ceren still out with a high ankle sprain).

Please tell us about your 21-year old Canadian striker Cyle Larin -€” he's leading OCSC's scoring, with 7 goals, and also 3 assists.  He was the first pick of the 2015 MLS draft, and there are no signs of a sophomore slump -€” is he the real deal?

He's the real deal. Last year the plan was just send the ball into the box and let Larin go get it. That still does happen at times when the club lacks ideas in the attack, however, a funny thing happened in Larin's second year in MLS -- he got better. Larin's improved hold-up play allows other players to come into the attack and the Canadian international is now just about as likely to set up a goal as to score one himself. He has three assists on the season and got absolutely robbed of another at New England (I'm still not sure how Rivas' game-tying goal was officially ruled as unassisted).

Larin is starting to draw interest from legit European clubs and it's starting to seem like a matter of when, not if, he'll be sold to a bigger club overseas. Larin should certainly worry any MLS back four and he can beat the keeper with power or placement, with either foot, or with his head (or face, or chest, as we've seen in the past).

Saturday's game against the Earthquakes will be Orlando City Soccer Club's first game after the Pulse nightclub shooting, and will be dedicated to #OrlandoUnited and raise funds for OneOrlando Fund.  How will the fans and players participate in the dedication?

Hopefully the game will be a cathartic event for the entire community. It's been a week filled with shock, loss, and extreme sadness, but it's also been a time when our city has come together and its citizens have rallied around one another, filling blood banks to capacity, donating time and money, and just generally leaning on one another for strength.

The match will provide a lot of moments for reflection and tribute to the Pulse shooting victims. The club has banded with the city's other professional sports teams to offer #OrlandoUnited shirts with the proceeds going to the OneOrlando Fund. Commemorative posters will be available for suggested donations of five dollars and 100% of those proceeds will also go to the fund.

Players will wear special patches as well as t-shirts for the walkout. The club will recognize first responders and support service personnel before the game and tickets have been donated to these groups as well. A commemorative section of the stadium will be blocked and dedicated each victim and Orlando City has also promised a permanent commemorative memorial in the new soccer stadium that will open next year, with rainbow seats installed to represent each victim.

In what is believed to be an unprecedented move, Orlando City will also stop live play during the 49th minute of the game to implement a 30-second moment of silence. The 49th minute commemorates the 49 people who lost their lives in the shootings. The fans will sing the National Anthem, which should be an especially emotional moment.

In addition to all of that, the Orlando City Foundation has pledged a $100,000 donation to OneOrlando.org and the club will be a title sponsor for Orlando Pride Week this October. It can't really be stressed enough how strongly the club has stepped up as a community leader in this turbulent time. They've been tremendous.

As reported on MLSsoccer.com, the Earthquakes will wear black armbands on their jerseys, along with Orlando Pride patches to show support for the LGBTQ community that was targeted in the attack. Prior to the game, they will enter the field wearing Orlando Pride shirts.

In addition, the Earthquakes and their supporters club, the San Jose Ultras, will take part in several fundraising efforts to raise money for the victims and their families through the OneOrlando Fund. The Ultras will be raffling off more than 50 prizes Saturday at Golden State Brewery in San Jose, including a 50-inch television, and the Earthquakes Community Fund will match every dollar raised by the Ultras' efforts.

The club also will donate one dollar for every ticket used at the team's Pride Night on Friday, July 8, to charitable organizations, including the OneOrlando Fund and several local San Jose LGBTQ non-profits.