We know soccer is unpredictable. We know the past can be changed. With a new coach, some new players, and a new stadium, this game against the Union will hopefully bring a win. Let’s see how we did against the conference competition in the past. For Orlando City, it’s time to change history. After all, we can’t change the future unless we learn from the past.
Saturday will be Orlando’s sixth time facing the Philadelphia side. The results haven’t been great, since the Lions are 1-2-2 with five goals scored by each team. At home, the Lions and Union have drawn twice in two meetings.
The first encounter in the series came at the Citrus Bowl back on Aug. 8, 2015. Upon arriving to this game, Philadelphia was the worst team in the Eastern Conference. But despite this, the Union gave our team a headache for most of the match. That day, the Lions played a 4-2-3-1. The lineup was as follows: Tally Hall, Corey Ashe, Aurelien Collin, Conor Donovan (his first MLS start), Luke Boden; Servando Carrasco, Cristian Higuita; Darwin Ceren, Kaká, Lewis Neal; Cyle Larin. Unfortunately for Donovan, his night ended after only 10 minutes, with a torn ACL, giving Tommy Redding his first MLS action.
OCSC had a few players on the injury list, with Kevin Molino, Tony Cascio, Brek Shea, Harrison Heath and Seb Hines unavailable. The match ended in a 0-0 draw, with Orlando holding most of the possession, but the Union had the most scoring opportunities. Only one booking was issued during this game, against former Lion Luke Boden. During the end of the game goalkeeper Tally Hall had three key stops to salvage the draw at home.
The return leg in Philadelphia came on the final day of the 2015 season. Orlando City still had a mathematical chance of reaching the playoffs but needed a win, a New England loss, and a big swing on goal difference. None of that happened. The Lions fell 1-0 on a penalty kick by Sebastian Le Toux after a foul in the box by Higuita. Aurelien Collin had a goal waved off for a foul committed by Seb Hines on a corner kick that would have put the Lions up 1-0 at the time. Josh Ford started his first and only MLS game in goal with both Hall and Earl Edwards Jr. out with knee injuries. The Lions received eight yellow cards in the match among seven players and Higuita earned two and got his walking papers.
In 2016, the Lions were unbeaten at 2-0-2 entering their first meeting with the Union in Philadelphia. Orlando City fought hard and overcame an early deficit but still fell 2-1 at the end on a controversial non-call during a Tranquillo Barnetta free kick. Orlando conceded just two minutes into the match, with Ramos misplaying a ball in front of goal that fell perfectly for C.J. Sapong to finish easily. Adrian Winter leveled the game just before halftime. The teams battled through the second half with Orlando trying to hold on but Barnetta’s free kick goal in the 89th allowed the Union to grab all three points. Unfortunately, his offside teammates went uncalled on the play, snapping the Lions’ unbeaten streak.
The second visit from the Union to Orlando was May 25 of last year. Adrian Heath used the his usual 4-2-3-1 formation for this game, but eight different players made an appearance in this line up from the Union’s first visit: Joe Bendik; Kevin Alston, Redding, David Mateos, Brek Shea; Higuita, Carrasco; Winter, Kaká, Carlos Rivas; Larin.
The Union were leading the Eastern Conference while Orlando was holding an unbeaten home record at 13 games. Orlando had a better display this time, controlling possession and creating more chances compared to the previous game at home. Even though the first half had little action, the second part of the game turned out more competitive. The final whistle saw a 2-2 draw with goals from Molino (68’) and Larin (71’, assisted by Kaká). Barnetta (52’) and Tribbett (75’) scored for the Union, with the latter equalizing off a corner kick scramble. In the 36th minute, Kaká had his penalty attempt stopped by keeper Andre Blake.
Orlando’s David Mateos saw a red card during the last minutes of the game from referee Sorin Stoica, who also delivered four other yellow cards to our Lions.
The Lions notched their first ever win in the series in the most recent meeting, last Oct. 16. Orlando City captured the victory at Talen Energy Stadium, 2-0. Carlos Rivas opened the scoring in the 59th minute on a breakaway that saw his shot carom off Blake, back off his body, and rolled toward the net. Keegan Rosenberry tried to clear it off the line but it was too late and he could only help it across. Julio Baptista added a late insurance goal and Joe Bendik kept a clean sheet.
On Saturday, Orlando City is going for its first home win against the Union, but the Lions will be looking to make it two straight victories over Philadelphia since Jason Kreis took over.
A win this time around would make for a great start to the 2017 season, giving the Lions victories in back-to-back games against 2016 playoff teams and conference rivals.