The regular season is in the books and the National Football League’s Wild Card weekend will be here before we know it. Or in other words, before we can fully recover from our New Year’s festivities.
The New England Patriots (12-4) and Denver Broncos (12-4) finished the regular season by claiming the top spots in the AFC while the Seattle Seahawks (12-4) and Green Bay Packers (12-4) hold those same positions in the NFC.
On Saturday it’s Arizona at Carolina and Baltimore at Pittsburgh followed by Cincinnati at Indianapolis and Detroit at Dallas on Sunday in matchups that’ll advance winners to the divisional round.
Below is a breakdown of the wild card games this weekend. My predictions are included at the conclusion of each summary.
There’s so much to be done before the Orlando City Soccer Club even steps foot on the pitch as a Major League Soccer participant at the start of the 2015 season. Among the many obstacles to navigate is the MLS Expansion Draft on Dec. 10 as Orlando City joins New York City FC in each selecting 10 players from those made available by current clubs.
Orlando City currently has just 10 players under contract for 2015 after defender Luke Boden and midfielder Harrison Heath finalized contracts with the club on Monday. Boden has spent the past four seasons with the Lions while Heath joined Orlando City near the end of the 2014 USL PRO season.
While the Orlando City Soccer Club has been preparing for its move to MLS by pursuing global stars such as the recently acquired Kaka and potential transfer Robinho, the club’s first MLS signee is having a breakout season in USL PRO.
Orlando City midfielder Kevin Molino hasn’t had a lot of time to ponder what the 2015 roster might look like while helping the Lions (14-0-4, 46 points) remain unbeaten by way of an offensive explosion unlike any in his career.
“As a player that’s already signed for MLS [in Orlando] you always wonder who will come in and who you’ll be playing with next year,” Molino said. “It’s great to see that a couple big names want to come here. It shows we’ve been doing some good over the past couple years.”
Entering Sunday’s match at Rochester, Molino leads the league in points (29) and assists (7) and ranks third in goals scored with 11 in 17 appearances.
Last year the USL PRO’s Orlando City Soccer Club advanced to the quarterfinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup before losing to Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire in the round of eight. The Lions got an early start on matching their deep run of 2013 on Wednesday by scoring a 4-1 win over the USL Premier Development League’s Ocala Stampede in the second round.
Orlando City will play its next five matches at home beginning May 21. The defending champion Lions are currently unbeaten on the season and atop the league table with a 6-0-3 (21 points) record. The last time Orlando City was at home they won their fifth in a row against the Oklahoma City Energy on May 4.