Welcome to your open thread for the second and final match-up of the (regular, he said, hopefully) season between Orlando City (9-13-8, 35 points) and New York Red Bulls (14-8-6, 48 points). The Lions are 0-1 in the season series after falling 2-0 back on July 18, in a game in which Cyle Larin was wrongfully sent off in the 32nd minute. Head Coach Adrian Heath was also sent off in the 74th minute after arguing persistent bad decisions.
Larin's red card, at least influenced by fourth official Ted Unkel, was rescinded the following midweek, but that was too late to help City try to fight back from allowing an early Sacha Kljestan goal. In fact, Kljestan was a key factor in getting Larin sent off, going to ground and writhing around in mock pain while holding a right leg that Orlando's striker never struck. Shockingly, the New York midfielder was absolutely fine right after Larin departed. Kljestan also went to ground easily to help Cristian Higuita earn a yellow card that night.
Mike Grella added a stoppage time insurance goal for the Red Bulls to sink the Lions, who fought valiantly despite being behind a goal and down a man for most of the game.
Orlando City is in the unfamiliar territory of trying to extend a winning streak in this inaugural season. City has won two straight for just the second time in MLS, after victories over Sporting Kansas City and Chicago Fire the last two weekends. A victory would help the club keep pace with Montreal Impact, a side that will visit the Citrus Bowl on Oct. 3.
City's two-match winning streak coincides with the return of Brek Shea to the lineup. Shea was not available in the July 18 meeting against New York, having had sports hernia surgery just two days prior. Orlando should get an added boost by the return of captain Kaká to the lineup after missing a few games with a strained adductor muscle and international duty before that.
New York is in a fine run of form, having won three of its last four matches (3-0-1). The Red Bulls are tied for first in the Supporters' Shield standings with a game in hand, although Vancouver owns the tiebreaker.
Watch for the Red Bulls to try to pressure high and force turnovers in order to spring deadly counter-attacks. Bradley Wright-Phillips (14), Mike Grella (7) and Lloyd Sam (7) are deadly goal scorers, combining for 28 goals amongst them this season. Kljestan is an accurate set-up man with 10 assists on the season, and has six goals himself. You can just pick any combination of New York's front four and come out with two guys who each have a minimum of six assists and six goals. That's scary production.
Orlando will want to get at least a point from this match to try to stay in contact with Montreal and if the Lions can both keep their recent form going and finish their chances, they might be able to steal some points from this trip to New Jersey.
"We'll have to play well. A mediocre performance won't be good enough," Heath said. "We're going to have to give one of our best performances of the season to get a result at the Red Bull Arena."
Here's your mandatory content to prep for tonight:
- Austin Siegel's match preview and final score prediction
- This week's PawedCast features Jason Iapicco from Once A Metro on tonight's match and provides more predictions
- Scott Crumbly on the Lions taking care of what they can control
- Wade Williams on what we learned the last time these teams met
Orlando City (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Tally Hall
Defenders: Luke Boden, Aurelien Collin, Seb Hines, Rafael Ramos
Defensive Midfielders: Cristian Higuita, Darwin Ceren
Attacking Midfielders: Brek Shea, Kaká, Lewis Neal
Forwards: Cyle Larin
Bench: Earl Edwards Jr., Servando Carrasco, Eric Avila, Adrian Winter, Bryan Rochez
New York Red Bulls (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Luis Robles
Defenders: Kemar Lawrence, Matt Miazga, Damien Perrinelle, Connor Lade
Defensive Midfielders: Dax McCarty, Felipe
Attacking Midfielders: Mike Grella, Sacha Kljestan, Lloyd Sam
Forward: Bradley Wright-Phillips
Bench: Kyle Reynish, Sal Zizzo, Ronald Zubar, Sean Davis, Gonzalo Veron, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Anatole Bertrand Abang
REF: Jorge Gonzalez
AR1: Daniel Belleau
AR2: Brian Dunn
4TH: Robert Sibiga
How to Watch:
Match time: 7 p.m. (ET)
Venue: Red Bull Arena - Harrison, NJ
TV: UDN (nationally)
Radio: 104.1 FM Real Radio (English), La Grande 1030 (Spanish)
Streaming: MLSSoccer.com, UnivisionDeportes.com, MLS Live
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