MLS Countdown: Philly can take lead with victory

Orlando City lit up the MLS schedule Sunday by blowing out defending champion Portland, 4-1, and the Eastern Conference-leading Lions (2-0-2) play again Friday in a short turnaround at Philadelphia.

Philly (2-2-0) is two points back in third place and could jump into first place by winning -- as could second-place Montreal, which has the same record -- and head coach Jim Curtin must decide how to replace midfielder Warren Creavalle. He is suspended after being dealt a straight red card in a 1-0 loss to Chicago last weekend.

Vincent Nogueira is the probable choice, though Tranquillo Barnetta’s rehabilitation from a knee injury that kept him off the field until the Fire game continues. He has been dealing with tendinitis in his knee and came on in the 66th minute. Nogueira started the season opener, a 2-0 loss at FC Dallas, but has been bothered by an ankle injury and hasn’t played since.

“Vincent’s a guy who’s in good form now in training and has looked sharp so we’ll have to weigh our options,” Curtin said Wednesday. “Tranquillo also coming back, you start to have a good stable of guys to choose from.”

The midfield and attack are being re-tooled in the wake of offseason activity that acquired Chris Pontius , Ilsinho and Roland Alberg; a trade that sent Cristian Maidana and Andrew Wenger to Houston; and a fractured leg suffered by Maurice Edu in early March that will take about three months to heal.

Barnetta, a Swiss international, logged three assists in nine games last season while battling a quad injury and other ailments. Philly acquired him last July using Targeted Allocation Money.

“He’s a guy who always likes to play forward, he’s aggressive,” said Curtin. “After he plays a pass, he’s moving to get it back. So, happy with him. I still think he has some room to improve on the fitness but he’s been working really hard on that after training each and every day and is a big part of this thing moving forward. We’re anxious to get him back in fully with the group.”

Philly has won its only home game this season. Pontius scored twice in a 3-0 defeat of New England March 20. Starting with the Orlando game Friday, the Union plays four of the next five at home, where it was a feeble 7-7-3 in 2015.

MLS Standings:
8 Orlando City 2-0-2 8/4
6 Montreal 2-2-0 6/5
6 Philadelphia 2-2-0 5/4
6 New England 1-1-3 5/7
5 New York City 1-1-2 7/7
5 Chicago 1-1-2 5/5
4 Toronto FC 1-2-1 4/4
3 NY Red Bulls 1-3-0 4/9
3 D.C. United 0-2-3 3/9
2 Columbus 0-2-2 3/5

10 FC Dallas 3-1-1 8/6
9 Sporting KC 3-1-0 5/3
8 Real Salt Lake 2-0-2 8/6
7 LA Galaxy 2-1-1 7/3
7 Colorado 2-1-1 3/2
7 Vancouver 2-2-1 6/6
7 San Jose 2-1-1 5/5
4 Houston 1-2-1 11/8
4 Portland 1-2-1 6/9
3 Seattle 1-3-0 3/5

Leading Scorers:
4 Pedro Morales (Vancouver)
3 Will Bruin (Houston)
3 Joao Plata (Real Salt Lake)
3 Ignacio Piatti (Montreal)
3 Cyle Larin (Orlando City)
3 Chris Wondolowski (San Jose)
3 Fanendo Adi (Portland)
3 Maximiliano Urruti (FC Dallas)

Friday, April 8
7:00 pm:
Philadelphia vs. Orlando City, UniMas
Saturday, April 9
4:00 pm:
New England vs. Toronto FC
Montreal vs. Columbus
5:30 pm:
D.C. United vs. Vancouver
7:00 pm:
NY Red Bulls vs. Sporting KC
9:00 pm:
FC Dallas vs. San Jose
9:30 pm:
Real Salt Lake vs. Colorado
Sunday, April 10
4:00 pm Houston vs. Seattle ESPN, ESPN Deportes
7:00 pm New York City vs. Chicago FS1, Fox Deportes
9:30 pm LA Galaxy vs. Portland FS1, Fox Deportes

Wednesday, April 13
8:30 pm:
Sporting KC vs. Colorado
10:30 pm:
San Jose vs. NY Red Bulls
Portland vs. FC Dallas
Friday, April 15
7:00 pm:
Houston vs. LA Galaxy UniMas
Saturday, April 16
5:00 pm:
Chicago vs. Montreal
D.C. United vs. Toronto FC
7:30 pm:
Columbus vs. New York City
9:00 pm:
Colorado vs. NY Red Bulls
10:00 pm:
Real Salt Lake vs. Vancouver
Seattle vs. Philadelphia
10:30 pm:
Portland vs. San Jose
Sunday, April 17
3:30 pm:
Orlando City vs. New England ESPN, ESPN Deportes
7:00 pm:
FC Dallas vs. Sporting KC FS1, Fox Deportes

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