Welcome to your open thread for the third and final match-up of season between Orlando City (11-13-8, 41 points) and New York City FC (10-15-7, 37 points). The Lions are 0-1-1 in the season series after a 1-1 draw in a sold-out Citrus Bowl on opening day and a 5-3 loss at Yankee Stadium on July 26, despite Cyle Larin's hat trick. Tonight marks the regular season home finale and should include one of the largest crowds of the year.
Both teams enter in good form. The Lions have won four consecutive matches and NYCFC has won three of its last four -- dropping a 2-1 decision to D.C. United after three straight wins over Toronto, San Jose, and Vancouver.
The first match was a thriller with Mix Diskerud drawing first blood, before a late free kick goal by Kaká sent more than 65,000 purple-clad fans home happy with Orlando City's first MLS point. The second match took place in the Bronx and without the suspended Cristian Higuita. David Villa and Kwadwo Poku were too much, with the former scoring twice and adding an assist and the latter nabbing three assists.
New York City seems to have figured out how to use high-priced Designated Players Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo, and has gotten 17 goals out of Villa. With the surprising Thomas McNamara and Patrick Mullins chipping in timely goals this year, and dangerous players like Diskerud and supersub Poku, the blues have a lot of weapons. And goalkeeper Josh Saunders has masked most of the team's defensive issues.
City will have to keep Villa, Lampard and Diskerud quiet and crowd Pirlo in order to pick up all three points and keep its playoff hopes alive. The Lions will have to do that without Kaká and Brek Shea, who are both out with yellow card suspensions, and Rafael Ramos, who has concussion symptoms. NYC has some injury and suspension issues on the back line, which may cause some shuffling, but that's not where they typically beat you anyway.
Here's your mandatory content to prep for tonight:
- Our match preview and final score prediction
- This week's PawedCast features more analysis and predictions and the NYCFC perspective from Hudson River Blue's Rafa Noboa y Rivera
- Our Intelligence Report gets more in-depth info on the visitors from HRB's Sam Dunn
- Wade Williams on what we learned the last time these teams met
Orlando City (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Tally Hall
Defenders: Luke Boden, Seb Hines, Aurelien Collin, Corey Ashe
Defensive Midfielders: Cristian Higuita, Darwin Ceren
Attacking Midfielders: Carlos Rivas, Lewis Neal, Adrian Winter
Forwards: Cyle Larin
Bench: Josh Ford, David Mateos, Eric Avila, Servando Carrasco, Pedro Ribeiro, Harrison Heath, Bryan Rochez
New York City FC (3-5-2)
Goalkeeper: Josh Saunders
Defenders: Chris Wingert, Jefferson Mena, Kwame Watson-Siriboe
Midfielders: Andrew Jacobson, Javier Calle, Ned Grabavoy, Frank Lampard, Mix Diskerud
Forward: Thomas McNamara, David Villa
Bench: Ryan Meara, Eirik Johansen, Jeb Brovsky, Kwadwo Poku, Mehdi Ballouchy, Khiry Shelton, Patrick Mullins
REF: Allen Chapman (70 MLS games, 23.6 fouls called/game, 3.7 YC/game, 17 red cards, 29 penalties)
AR1: Jeff Muschik
AR2: Kevin Klinger
4TH: Daniel Radford
How to Watch:
Match time: 7 p.m. (ET)
Venue: Citrus Bowl - Orlando, FL
TV: UniMas (nationally)
Radio: 104.1 FM Real Radio (English), La Grande 1030 (Spanish)
Streaming: MLS Live
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