Welcome to your match thread for tomorrow afternoon’s match-up between Orlando City (0-1-1, 1 point) and New York City FC (2-0-0, 6 points) at Yankee Stadium. It’s the first of three scheduled meetings between the two 2015 MLS expansion rivals this season, and the first of two in the Bronx.
Orlando will visit the Pigeons again on June 2 and NYCFC will come to Orlando City Stadium on July 26.
The Lions haven’t played on the road this season yet after going winless in a pair of home matches to start the campaign. New York City FC is 1-0-0 at home after a 2-1 win over the LA Galaxy last weekend.
These teams have played thrice in each season since joining MLS together in 2015. Orlando City is a surprising 5-2-2 in the all-time series, with a 2-1-1 mark at Yankee Stadium. The Lions are 3-1-0 against the Pigeons under Jason Kreis, but tomorrow’s hosts won the most recent meeting, 3-0 last May 21. That was Orlando’s first home loss in Orlando City Stadium and it kept the Lions from sweeping the 2018 season series. David Villa scored twice in that match, opening the scoring from the spot after Kaká was whistled for a handball in the box. Rodney Wallace also scored for NYCFC.
The last meeting in Yankee Stadium was a 2-1 win for Orlando with Cyle Larin staking the Lions to a 2-0 lead before a Villa response off a set piece threw the hosts a lifeline. In fact, Larin scored all of Orlando’s goals in the series last year, netting the game-winner in the first match ever at Orlando City Stadium, a 1-0 win by the Lions on opening day. So...someone else is going to have to score for Orlando.
Orlando City went 1-1-1 against NYC in 2015 and 2-0-1 in 2016.
NYC enters the game on a roll, having beaten two Western Conference contenders in Sporting Kansas City and the Galaxy by a combined score of 4-1. This shows the Pigeons have an improved defense and that is led by midfielder Alexander Ring. NYCFC’s midfield in general is a problem, with Ring and Yangel Herrera supporting attack-minded players like Villa, Maxi Moralez, Jesus Medina, and Wallace. Perhaps the most lethal finisher in MLS, Villa will pose 90 minutes worth of problems for Orlando City’s back line, particularly on the small Yankee Stadium playing surface.*
[*Update: Villa is out for the match.]
Possession is almost a detriment at Yankee Stadium, as turning the opponent over and countering can create lightning-fast problems for defenses and test goalkeepers’ resolve. The Lions like to possess the ball but that may not be the best option unless their passing is absolutely clinical.
The big news is obviously the return of Sacha Kljestan, who saw out his two-game suspension stemming from an altercation with Jozy Altidore in last year’s playoffs while playing for New York Red Bulls. Kljestan is set to make his Orlando City debut for a team still missing several key pieces to the puzzle. Former NYCFC fullback RJ Allen, now a Lion, may get a chance to play against his old team.
Dom Dwyer, Josué Colmán, and Dillon Powers returned to full training this week. My gut isn’t always the best barometer of these things but I’d expect at least some of them in the 18 after the bye next week and then perhaps starting a game or two later. Uri Rosell is still out with what is listed as fitness but it seems fishy given how the man looks that he still hasn’t achieved enough fitness to fully integrate into team training. Stéfano Pinho (ankle) is out. Pierre Da Silva has a game left on his suspension. PC had a game added to his suspension from being sent off against D.C. United and will also miss this game.
New York City FC is mostly healthy, with forward Jo Inge Berget (quad) the only real question mark.
Mandatory Match #Content
- Guilherme Torres writes about the three keys for Orlando City to nab three points from the match.
- Our Intelligence Report gives us more on NYCFC from Christian Smith, managing editor of SB Nation’s Hudson River Blue.
- This week’s PawedCast includes our key match-ups and score predictions, plus our exclusive interview with Orlando City rookie midfielder Cam Lindley.
Orlando City (4-4-2)
Goalkeeper: Joe Bendik.
Defenders: Mohamed El-Munir, Amro Tarek Jonathan Spector, RJ Allen.
Midfielders:Will Johnson. Sacha Kljestan, Cristian Higuita, Yoshimar Yotun.
Forwards: Chris Mueller, Justin Meram.
Bench: Earl Edwards Jr., Lamine Sané, Richie Laryea, Josué Colmán, Jose Villareal, Scott Sutter, Cam Lindley.
New York City FC (4-2-3-1)
The big news is a knock will keep David Villa out.
Goalkeeper: Sean Johnson.
Defenders: Ben Sweat, Alex Callens, Maxime Chanot, Saad Abdul-Salaam.
Defensive Midfielders: Yangel Herrera, Alex Ring.
Attacking Midfielders: Rodney Wallace, Maxi Moralez, Jesus Medina.
Forward: Ismael Tajouri.
Bench: Brad Stuver, Sebastian Ibeagha, Ronald Matarrita, Ebenezer Ofori, Tommy McNamara, Jonathan Lewis, Kwame Awuah.
Ref: Jose Carlos Rivero.
AR1: Brian Poeschel.
AR2: Brian Dunn.
4th: Daniel Radford.
VAR: Alan Kelly.
How to Watch
Match Time: 3:30 p.m. ET.
Venue: Yankee Stadium — Bronx, NY.
Radio: 96.9 FM The Game (English), La Nueva 990 (Spanish).
Streaming: MLS Live, Twitter, Univision Deportes.
Match Thread Rules
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