Last time out, against Portland Timbers, head coach Jesse Marsch rotated his squad, handing starts to Gonzalo Veron, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Sean Davis, and Sal Zizzo. The team won a famous victory on the road to step back up to the top of the Eastern Conference and tuck into the slipstream of the Supporters' Shield leaders (on tiebreakers), Vancouver Whitecaps. Will Jesse stick by the changed-up lineup that knocked the Timbers on their heels from the opening whistle and pretty much kept them there until the match was all-but won?
I think not.
Davis and Zizzo were stand-ins for the suspended Dax McCarty and Connor Lade - and Marsch tends to favor a policy of not switching away from incumbent starters just because misfortune came knocking at their door. The captain and Lade should return for Orlando's visit to Red Bull Arena.
There didn't seem to be much wrong with either SWP or Veron last week that couldn't be fixed with a run of games, but the suspicion is their starts against the Timbers were almost entirely a planned rotation of the squad to help navigate a crowded schedule. Their contribution to the successful outing in Portland suggests they'll get another shot at starting, perhaps sooner rather than later, since the Red Bulls have a couple more short weeks to deal with in October.
But this game against Orlando marks the last time for a while that Marsch can rely on having a full squad to choose from: Matt Miazga will head off to CONCACAF's Olympic Qualifying tournament before RBNY's next match (against Columbus on October 3) and hopefully (if you're rooting for the USA U-23s to make the 2016 Olympics) won't be available for RBNY again until the team's October 18 fixture against Philadelphia; Kemar Lawrence - and perhaps even Bradley Wright-Phillips - might get called to South Korea by Jamaica, which would rule out selection for the October 14 game against Toronto; Karl Ouimette could be asked to play in Canada's October 13 game against Ghana, rendering him also unavailable for the TFC game.
Also, Miazga and Felipe Martins are currently one yellow card away from a disciplinary suspension.
Worst case: Marsch might not be able to select what we have come to regard as his first-choice starting lineup again until Philly visits RBA on October 18. So I think Jesse will pick that first-choice team for Orlando's visit. If things go awry, he has reason to believe there are capable back-ups ready to step into starting roles at almost every position for future matches. If things go well, it'll be the last hurrah of the full-strength first team until mid-October - because Miazga at least will miss a couple of games in the foreseeable future.
The opportunity to tinker will most likely be forced upon Marsch over the next few weeks. Now is the time to try to eke out another positive result with the most seasoned group of starters he has: back to the usual suspects is the prediction for the starting lineup against Orlando.