Welcome to your open thread for the fourth competitive match and third (and final) MLS game between Orlando City SC (8-13-8, 32 points) and the Chicago Fire (7-15-6, 27 points). The Lions are 1-1-1 in the season series in all competitions and 1-0-1 in two previous MLS meetings against the Fire in 2015.
Orlando snapped a six-game winless streak (0-4-2) with last Sunday's victory over Sporting Kansas City but will attempt to halt its seven-match road skid (0-6-1) tonight at Toyota Park in Bridgeview. The last five of those poor road results have been losses and the overall stretch dates all the way back to City's 3-2 win at Chicago on June 6.
That was the first meeting between the teams this season, with Cyle Larin scoring once and the Lions forcing two Adailton own-goals to come from a goal down in the last 10 minutes of the game. The Fire got the better of Orlando in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals, 3-1, on July 22 -- also at Toyota Park. This time it was a pair of Kennedy Igboananike goals in the final moments that avoided extra time and snatched victory for Chicago, knocking the Lions out of the competition.
The most recent meeting took place just three weeks ago at the Citrus Bowl with Orlando controlling most of the play but failing to take its chances and drawing 1-1. David Accam put the Fire ahead first, only to see Cyle Larin's header go off defender Eric Gehrig for an own-goal. The Lions have forced three Chicago own-goals out of the five that they've scored against the Fire this season, which is kind of like making your little brother hit himself.
Chicago is 1-4-2 in its last seven matches and winless in the last three (0-2-1). Despite being last in the league, the Fire have a good counter-attacking offense, with a great deal of speed and quickness up front. Igboananike has three of Chicago's six goals against Orlando and Accam has two. Patrick Nyarko has the other. Accam leads the club with eight goals this season, followed by Igboananike's seven. Defender Jeff Larentowicz, who serves as the Fire's penalty-kick specialist, has six.
Both clubs will be desperate for points as the season winds down and the playoff window closes. Orlando City will be without captain Kaká for a third straight game and he didn't make the trip. Defensive midfielder Darwin Ceren and fullback Corey Ashe both made the trip and are available for selection. That will give Head Coach Adrian Heath some options with the lineup.
"It's a big game for us and probably the last roll of the dice for them," said Heath after training on Thursday. "We play them often enough. The only thing we don't know is who's going to play in what position. We pretty much know that their front four are very dynamic, whichever way they play and whichever position they play them in."
Here's your mandatory content to prep for tonight:
- Austin Siegel's match preview and final score prediction
- This week's PawedCast features Sean Spence of Hot Time in the Old Town on tonight's match and provides more predictions
- Wade Williams on what we learned from the last match against Chicago
Orlando City (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Tally Hall
Defenders: Luke Boden, Aurelien Collin, David Mateos, Rafael Ramos
Defensive Midfielders: Cristian Higuita, Servando Carrasco
Attacking Midfielders: Carlos Rivas, Lewis Neal, Adrian Winter
Forwards: Cyle Larin
Bench: Earl Edwards Jr., Seb Hines, Eric Avila, Brek Shea, Darwin Ceren, Danny Mwanga, Bryan Rochez
Chicago Fire (4-4-2)
Goalkeeper: Jon Busch
Defenders: Joevin Jones, Jeff Larentowicz, Ty Harden, Daneil Cyrus
Midfielders: Harry Shipp, Michael Stephens, Razvan Cocis, Patrick Nyarko
Forwards: David Accam, Kennedy Igboananike
Bench: Alec Kann, Lovel Palmer, Matt Watson, Chris Ritter, Mike Magee
REF: Alan Kelly
AR1: Phil Briere
AR2: Eric Weisbrod
4TH: Baboucarr Jallow
How to Watch:
Match time: 8:30 p.m. (ET)
Venue: Toyota Park - Bridgeview, IL
TV: MY65 (locally) and FOX Sports Florida (regionally)
Radio: 104.1 FM Real Radio (English), La Grande 1030 (Spanish)
Streaming: FOX Sports Go app
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