Welcome to your open thread for the regular season finale and second meeting of the year between Orlando City (12-13-8, 44 points) and the Philadelphia Union (9-17-7, 34 points). The Lions are 0-0-1 in the season series after a 0-0 draw in the Citrus Bowl on August 8. It was Orlando's only scoreless draw of the 2015 campaign.
The Lions enter on a five-game winning streak. Despite not getting any help from other MLS teams, they've done everything in their power to stay in the playoff race. If it's going to happen, Orlando City needs to win and have New York City FC defeat New England -- and also they need an eight-goal swing in goal differential. Essentially, 4-0 wins by both Orlando and NYCFC would do it.
Philadelphia has lost two straight, after an unbeaten run in three of four. The Union have been outscored 7-2 over the last two matches by New York Red Bulls and Toronto FC. But Philly will want to send its fans home happy in their season finale. Cristian Maidana is the man to watch, with a league-leading 15 assists (tied with Giovinco). He's become a phenomenal setup man this season.
There's not much use in rehashing the first meeting. Orlando hadn't yet gotten into form, Conor Donovan suffered a season-ending knee injury early, and nobody scored, so the game was about as meh as you can get. Philadelphia actually fashioned the best chances of the game late, but Tally Hall stood tall to deny the Union a breakthrough. Hall is unavailable tonight (and for the playoffs, should City pull off a miracle) after suffering a torn meniscus last Friday with six minutes left in the game. He underwent successful surgery for it on Thursday.
The Lions do get Kaká and Brek Shea back from yellow card suspensions, and right back Rafael Ramos (concussion symptoms) is available.
Here's your mandatory content to prep for tonight:
- Austin Siegel's match preview and final score prediction
- This week's PawedCast features more analysis and predictions and the Union perspective from Eugene Rupinski of Brotherly Game.
- Wade Williams on what we learned the last time these teams met
Orlando City (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Josh Ford
Defenders: Luke Boden, Seb Hines, Aurelien Collin, Brek Shea
Defensive Midfielders: Cristian Higuita, Darwin Ceren
Attacking Midfielders: Carlos Rivas, Kaká, Adrian Winter
Forwards: Cyle Larin
Bench: Trey Mitchell, David Mateos, Rafael Ramos, Lewis Neal, Servando Carrasco, Eric Avila, Pedro Ribeiro
Philadelphia Union (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Andre Blake
Defenders: Fabinho, Richie Marquez, Ethan White, Raymon Gaddis
Defensive Midfielders: Vincent Noguiera, Michael Lahoud
Attacking Midfielders: Eric Ayuk Mbu, Tranquillo Barnetta, Sebastian Le Toux
Forward: C.J. Sapong
Bench: John McCarthy, Warren Creavalle, Brian Carroll, Cristian Maidana, Conor Casey, Andrew Wenger, Fernando Aristeguieta
REF: Chris Penso (18 MLS games this season, 25.78 fouls called/game, 3.94 YC/game, 0.33 RC/game)
AR1: Sean Hurd
AR2: Jeff Muschik
4TH: Robert Sibiga
How to Watch:
Match time: 5 p.m. (ET)
Venue: PPL Park -- Chester, PA
TV: MY65 (locally), FOX Sports Florida (regionally)
Radio: 104.1 FM Real Radio (English), La Grande 1030 (Spanish)
Streaming: MLS Live
Twitter: For rapid reaction and live updates, follow along at @TheManeLand, as well as Orlando City's official Twitter feed (@OrlandoCitySC).
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