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Orlando City vs. Miami FC: Match Preview, Starting XIs, Predictions, and More

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The Lions look to begin their U.S. Open Cup run at home against the NASL side from South Florida.

MLS: Chicago Fire at Orlando City SC Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The magic of the cup makes its 2017 debut at Orlando City Stadium tomorrow night.

Orlando City will host the NASL’s Miami FC at 7:30 p.m. ET to start the fourth round of the longest-running soccer tournament in U.S. history. The game will be streamed on the U.S. Soccer website as well as free on LionNation, according to a team spokesperson.

This will be the third year of U.S. Open Cup play as an MLS side for Orlando. In each of the past two years, the furthest the Lions made it was the quarterfinals in 2015, where they lost, 3-1 to the Chicago Fire. Last year, after beating the Jacksonville Armada, they fell 2-1 to the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers on a 120th-minute goal by PC, now a defender for Orlando.

Miami is currently on a two-game winning streak and is unbeaten in its last 10 games in NASL play. Most recently in USOC action, it’s coming off a 2-0 win over another in-state team, the Tampa Bay Rowdies, in the third round on May 31. In league play, Miami took down FC Edmonton 1-0 in Canada on Saturday night.

Projected Lineups

Orlando City vs Miami FC - Football tactics and formations

Orlando City

Coming off that 0-0 performance against Chicago, Orlando got much-needed time to rest and rejuvenate. Coming into this game and thinking about hosting Montreal over the weekend, the lineup for the Lions could be very different than usual. In fact, with the projected lineups above, it was very much a crapshoot to try and figure out who may be playing in this match. Complicating player availability is an OCB match in Toronto tomorrow.

The one thing to keep in mind for a U.S. Open Cup game is the five international player limit the tournament has. A number of internationals for Orlando are either green card holders or, in the case of Seb Hines, dual citizens. Picking and choosing the international players will be the tough part, but it’s safe to assume that a healthy majority of the starters will be U.S. citizens or green card holders.

This game is one in which a number of Orlando City B loanees could make first-team appearances. Hadji Barry has been scoring well lately and both Hines and Josh Saunders went 90 minutes in the last OCB game, looking pretty good for the most part.

Miami FC

Don’t sleep on this Miami team just because it’s from a lower division. Just remember what happened last year. Miami currently sits in first place in the NASL standings with a 7-1-3 record. Even more impressive is Miami’s 5-0-1 record away from home, making it easily the best road team in the league. Miami has 10 players on its roster with MLS game experience and five with 65 or more games played (Hunter Freeman, Jonny Steele, Michael Lahoud, Gabriel Farfán, and Michel).

Miami leads the NASL in goals scored, shutouts, fewest goals conceded, and total shots on goal. Former New York City FC midfielder Kwadwo Poku helps lead the attack alongside Vincenzo Rennella, who sits third in both goals and assists in the NASL.

Alongside those two, Dylan Mares is the man in the middle that helps run things offensively. He is second in the league in chances created and is often the linchpin in Miami’s attack.

Miami is managed by legendary Italian defender Alessandro Nesta, a former teammate of Kaká in Milan in the early 2000s. In his year and a bit as manager of Miami FC, he holds a career record of 17-13-13.

Player to Watch For

Miami’s 28-year-old French striker Vincenzo Rennella has been an offensive dynamo this year for the NASL side. On loan from Spanish side Real Valladolid in the second division, he leads the team in both goals and assists. The 6-foot-2 striker is a natural finisher and has a knack for making smart runs into the box. Orlando defenders will have to pay close attention to him in the 18.

Prediction: Orlando City 2, Miami 1

Since the lineup is still yet to be decided for Orlando, it’s a bit of a guess when it comes to the result. Miami is a very good NASL team and if Orlando plays a weak lineup against them, the Lions could get burned. For now, I’ll stick with my guns and say Orlando will pull it out at home.