Welcome to your match thread for a Saturday night match-up between Orlando City SC (7-16-2, 23 points) and the Philadelphia Union (12-11-3, 39 points). This is the second of two scheduled league meetings between the Eastern Conference rivals in 2018, and the third overall including the Union’s 1-0 win in the teams’ U.S. Open Cup match-up. It’s the first time the teams will compete in Orlando this season.
Orlando City is 3-3-2 in the eight MLS meetings with the Union since the club joined Major League Soccer in 2015, and 3-4-2 in all competitions. The Lions are 1-0-2 at home in the series. In addition to the aforementioned USOC match won by Philadelphia, the Lions prevailed over the Union back on April 13, 2-0. Dom Dwyer and Chris Mueller provided the offense and we saw the ultra-rare unicorn known as an Orlando City shutout win — the only one the Lions have in 2018.
The teams split their two matches last year, with the home side prevailing both times. The Lions won 2-1 at Orlando City Stadium on March 18 as part of the team’s hot start. Cyle Larin scored a brace to lead the Lions. C.J. Sapong scored for Philadelphia. The rematch was an ugly 6-1 Philadelphia win in the season finale for both teams, as the Union laid claim on a worse draft position. Dwyer gave Orlando its only goal, while Earl Edwards Jr. (in his first MLS start) was beaten twice each by Ilsinho, Fabrice-Jean Picault, and Sapong.
The Lions were 1-1-1 against Philadelphia in 2016. The team’s first road victory in the series came on Oct. 16, 2016, as the Lions roared, 2-0. Carlos Rivas and Julio Baptista scored. The teams played to a 2-2 draw on May 25 in Orlando, as Ken Tribbett made the Lions pay for Kaká’s missed penalty in the first half by scoring an equalizing goal off a corner kick. Kevin Molino and Larin scored for Orlando City, and Tranquillo Barnetta also scored for the Union. Barnetta’s free kick in the 89th minute gave Philly a 2-1 win on March 8 of 2016, with Adrian Winter scoring for the Lions on the road.
Orlando City enters on a six-game winless streak (0-5-1) with just one win in the last 16 matches (1-14-1) and the Lions are just 5-6-2 at home this season. On the other hand, Philadelphia is on a four-game winning streak and has one six of its last eight (6-2-0). The Union are 5-7-1 away from Talen Energy Stadium.
Cristian Higuita is listed as day-to-day with an adductor injury. It’s anyone’s guess whether Lamine Sané (knee), RJ Allen (concussion) or Sacha Kljestan (ankle) will be available but they’ve been spotted with the main group at training this week. Sané is the only one of the group still listed on the MLS injury report (as of Wednesday). Yoshimar Yotún is eligible to return from his two-game suspension, just in time to miss next weekend’s game at Sporting Kansas City on international duty. For the Union, Matt Real (left knee sprain) is the only player listed on the injury report.
Philadelphia played Wednesday night at D.C., winning 2-0, so there could be some squad rotation for Jim Curtin’s team against a floundering Orlando team that actually didn’t look too bad for half the game against Atlanta last weekend. The Union played their first-choice XI on Wednesday and it worked out pretty well for them.
Sapong has been a Lion killer in the past and he’s been working on the wing of late due to the emergence of Cory Burke, who has seven goals in 22 games this season. Five of those have come in his last seven matches. The Lions must be mindful of play-making center attacking midfielder Borek Dockal. The Czech has five goals an 13 assists on the season so far, He is just one behind Kaku for the league lead in assists. It will be vital for Uri Rosell, Carlos Ascues, or whoever else might be playing central midfield to keep a close eye on Dockal.
On the other end, the Lions will need to be sharp to beat goalkeeper Andre Blake, and the consistency of the Union’s young back line will make it difficult to get quality chances. Philadelphia hasn’t allowed a goal in three games.
If all of this sounds like the recipe for another Orlando City loss, well...I mean, the team has to win a game sometime. Right? RIGHT?!?!
Mandatory Match #Content
- Our Intelligence Report gives us more about Philadelphia with the help from Matt Ralph of SB Nation’s Union blog, Brotherly Game.
- This week's PawedCast includes our key match-ups and score predictions, plus our chat with Matt Ralph about the Union and the upcoming game.
Orlando City (4-2-3-1),
Goalkeeper: Joe Bendik
Defenders: Jonathan Spector, Carlos Ascues, Shane O’Neill, Scott Sutter.
Defensive Midfielders: Oriol Rosell, Will Johnson.
Attacking Midfielders: Yoshimar Yotún, Sacha Kljestan, Cristian Higuita.
Forward: Dom Dwyer.
Bench: Earl Edwards Jr., PC, Amro Tarek, Pierre Da Silva, Josué Colmán, Stefano Pinho, Chris Mueller.
Philadelphia Union (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Andre Blake.
Defenders: Raymon Gaddis, Auston Trusty, Jack Elliott, Keegan Rosenberry.
Defensive Midfielders: Alejandro Bedoya, Haris Medunjanin.
Attacking Midfielders: Fabrice-Jean Picault, Borek Dockal, C.J. Sapong.
Forward: Cory Burke.
Bench: John McCarthy, Fabinho, Mark McKenzie, Derrick Jones, Ilsinho, Warren Creavalle, David Accam.
Ref: Chris Penso.
AR1: Kathryn Nesbitt.
AR2: Cameron Blanchard.
4th: Rubiel Vazquez.
VAR: Alex Chilowicz.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7:30 p.m. (ET).
Venue: Orlando City Stadium — Orlando, FL.
TV: WRDQ TV27 (local only).
Radio: FM 96.9 The Game (English), La Nueva 990 (Spanish).
Streaming: ESPN+, YouTube TV.
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Enjoy the match! Go City!