Welcome to your match thread for a Sunday night match-up between Orlando City and D.C. United at Audi Field. It’s the second of two scheduled MLS matches between the clubs this season and the third overall.
The Lions will face United with their third coach in as many meetings between the two Eastern Conference sides this season, as James O’Connor gets his first look at D.C. after Jason Kreis and Bobby Murphy led Orlando into battle in the first two installments.
The Lions are 4-3-1 against D.C. in the all-time league series since the club joined MLS and 4-3-2 in all competitions. Orlando is 1-2-0 on the road against United but this will be the first ever meeting at Audi Field. The two teams met on opening day and the Lions posted a dramatic late 1-1 draw on Stefano Pinho’s 93rd-minute goal. Orlando went down to 10 men 41 minutes into the match when PC was sent off. The teams met in U.S. Open Cup action on June 20 at the Maryland SoccerPlex and again drew 1-1, but the Lions advanced to the quarterfinals thanks to a 4-2 penalty shootout win. Luciano Acosta put the hosts ahead but Justin Meram equalized on a rainy night and that was it for the scoring until the shootout.
Orlando swept the two league meetings in 2017, starting with a 2-0 win over United at Orlando City Stadium on May 31. Cyle Larin and Giles Barnes provided the offense to help the Lions snap what was then a six-game winless skid. City also snapped an eight-game skid (0-6-2) when the teams met again on Sept. 9, when the Lions had two men sent off but still won, 2-1. Larin and Barnes did the damage again, so United fans will not mind seeing that neither player is on the 2018 OCSC roster. Kofi Opare gave his team a lifeline in the 89th minute but D.C. couldn’t find an equalizer.
The teams split two lopsided games in 2016, with each team winning at home. United grabbed a 4-1 win at RFK Stadium and the Lions avenged that loss with a 4-2 win to close their tenure at Camping World Stadium.
The Black & Red won the first meeting back on April 3, 2015, with Luis Silva scoring on a 91st-minute free kick, breaking Orlando hearts, 1-0. On May 13 of that inaugural season, Orlando led 1-0 on Larin’s goal, but D.C. scored twice to win, 2-1. Orlando finally got on the board in the series on June 14 that year with Kaká scoring off the rebound of his own missed penalty to provide the Lions’ 1-0 winning margin.
D.C. will look a bit different this time around. Former England, Everton, and Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney has joined D.C. and brought a bit of swagger to the side. Playing atop one of the league’s most talented attacking midfields — which includes Yamil Asad, U.S. international Paul Arriola, and Luciano Acosta, Rooney will provide finishing up top for D.C. and he’s already opened his United account.
The Lions will be tasked with stopping the powerful attacking force with a back line held together with spit and duct tape. Jonathan Spector (hamstring) and Lamine Sané (knee) remain out with injuries and PC has been playing left back the last few matches for O’Connor’s squad. Orlando City has conceded seven times in the last two matches.
Things don’t look much better up top for Orlando. Dom Dwyer should be good to go, but Sacha Kljestan (ankle) didn’t train all week after being chopped down from behind by Brandon Bye in the 3-3 draw vs. New England last Saturday. In addition, Yoshimar Yotún will miss this match and the next after being sent off in stoppage time of that same game. The midfield could be a trio of Josué Colmán between Mohamed El-Munir (left) and Chris Mueller (right), but I wouldn’t rule out a more defensive-minded option in the lineup in the form of Tony Rocha, Will Johnson, or even Dillon Powers. After all, O’Connor was not happy about all the goals conceded the last few weeks.
I would expect some kind of fluid 4-2-3-1 system, which is what we’ve mainly been seeing from the Lions the last several games. Even if it’s announced as such, it might play more like a 4-3-2-1 at times depending on who is in the attacking midfield and how O’Connor tactically approaches the game.
Orlando City will have to lock down the midfield and keep D.C.’s attackers from finding Rooney. The defense will need to keep Rooney well marked and watch for give-and-go play between the veteran striker and United’s talented midfielders.
In addition to the aforementioned to Spector, Sané, and Kljestan, Uri Rosell (hamstring) has been day-to-day, but he returned to training this week and should be available for selection. Meanwhile, the MLS site lists Taylor Kemp (labrum) and Nick DeLeon (knee) as out.
Mandatory Match #Content
- Our Intelligence Report tells us more about United from Ben Bromley of SB Nation’s D.C. blog, Black and Red United.
- This week's PawedCast includes our key match-ups and predictions, plus we talked to Black and Red United’s Adam Taylor about the game, Audi Field, and more.
- Our Alek Pierce discusses what Orlando City must do to take three points from D.C.
Orlando City (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Joe Bendik.
Defenders: Mohamed El-Munir, Amro Tarek, Shane O’Neill, Scott Sutter.
Defensive Midfielders: Uri Rosell, Will Johnson.
Attacking Midfielders: Tony Rocha, Cristian Higuita, Chris Mueller.
Forward: Dom Dwyer.
Bench: Earl Edwards, Jr., PC, Chris Schuler, Dillon Powers, Pierre Da Silva, Josué Colmán, Stefano Pinho.
DC United (4-1-4-1)
Goalkeeper: David Ousted;
Defenders: Joseph Mora, Steve Birnbaum, Kofi Opare, Oniel Fisher.
Defensive Midfielder: Russell Canouse.
Attacking Midfielders: Yamil Asad. Luciano Acosta, Paul Arriola, Zoltan Stieber.
Forward: Wayne Rooney.
Bench: Bill Hamid, Vytautas Andriuskevicius, Frederic Brillant, Junior Moreno, Ulises Segura, Darren Mattocks, Chris Durkin
How to Watch
Match Time: 8 p.m. (ET).
Venue: Audi Field — Washington, D.C.
TV: FOX Sports 1.
Streaming: FOX Sports GO.
Radio: FM 96.9 The Game (English), La Nueva 990 (Spanish).
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Enjoy the match! Go City!