Welcome to your match thread and preview for Saturday afternoon’s opening day match-up between Orlando City (0-0-0, 0 points) and New York City FC (0-0-0, 0 points) at Orlando City Stadium. This is the first of the two scheduled meetings between the Eastern Conference rivals and fellow 2015 expansion teams in 2019 and, obviously, the lone meeting in Orlando.
It’s going to be the third time these teams have met on opening day (2015, 2017). Orlando City is opening at home for the fifth consecutive season, and the Lions have a pretty decent opening day record (1-0-3), but if you’re betting you should probably put your money on a draw. Here are the team’s previous opening day results:
- 1-1 draw vs.New York City FC on March 8, 2015.
- 2-2 draw vs. Real Salt Lake on March 6, 2016.
- 1-0 win vs. New York City FC on March 5, 2017.
- 1-1 draw vs. D.C. United on March 3, 2018.
The Lions are 5-5-2 in 12 meetings with the Pigeons in the all-time series, and 3-2-1 at home. Orlando has more wins against NYCFC than against any other MLS foe. However, New York City has won the last four league meetings in a row, out-scoring the Lions 10-0 in those games.
No Orlando City player other than Cyle Larin has scored a goal in a competitive game against the Pigeons since Aug. 28, 2016, when Kaká scored a brace in a 2-1 home victory for Orlando. The teams met in the Orlando City Invitational a couple weeks ago but not much can really be taken from the Lions’ 2-1 win. Orlando did well with its press, creating turnovers and keeping the ball much of the game. But that was preseason. NYCFC will have game planned this time, the intensity will be much higher, and we’ll have to wait and see if Orlando can get it done when the speed of the game increases.
It’s a new era for Orlando City (again). Gone is Yoshimar Yotún, Scott Sutter, Jonathan Spector, Joe Bendik, and many other key pieces of the 2017 and 2018 team. The Lions have new faces in all positions and it remains to be seen what James O’Connor will do with his squad on opening day or even who will be available. Big off-season signing Nani went back to Portugal to finish up his paperwork but as of this writing he had not yet returned. O’Connor and Luiz Muzzi had said Nani “should” be available for opening day and that appears to be the case.
Similarly, players who were injured in preseason — striker Dom Dwyer and fullbacks Joao Moutinho and Ruan, to name a few — may or may not be available. Again, Dwyer “should” be available and Moutinho was seen training with the full squad during the media portion of training late in the week. Ruan was off to the side, so he may still be a week away. I’m going to assume that Ruan isn’t quite ready but I’m going to take O’Connor at his word and that Dwyer will be available.
New York City no longer has David Villa, but the Pigeons have brought in Alexandru Mitrita and we already know firsthand that Maxi Moralez and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi can score goals against Orlando City. Alex Ring is the engine room for NYCFC and he’s been one of the main reasons the Lions haven’t scored in this series in the last four outings. Orlando will need to neutralize him.
Whoever wins the midfield in this game has the upper hand.
Mandatory Match #Content
- Our Intelligence Report provides further updates on New York City FC from Christian Smith of SB Nation’s NYCFC blog, Hudson River Blue.
- This week’s PawedCast includes our key match-ups and score predictions for Saturday’s match.
Orlando City (3-5-2)
Goalkeeper: Brian Rowe.
Defenders: Kamal Miller, Shane O’Neill, Alex De John.
Wingbacks/Midfielders: Danilo Acosta, Sebas Mendez, Sacha Kljestan, Will Johnson, Kyle Smith.
Forwards: Chris Mueller,Tesho Akindele.
Bench: Greg Ranjitsingh, Carlos Ascues, Uri Rosell, Cristian Higuita, Josué Colmán, Nani, Dom Dwyer,
New York City FC (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Sean Johnson.
Defenders: Ben Sweat, Alex Callens, Maxime Chanot, Anton Tinnerholm.
Defensive Midfielders: Alex Ring, James Sands.
Attacking Midfielders: Jonathan Lewis, Maxi Moralez, Ebenezer Ofori.
Forward: Alexandru Mitrita.
Bench: Brad Stuver, Valentin Castellanos, Sebastien Ibeagha, Tony Rocha, Keaton Parks, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, Jesus Medina.
Ref: Baldomero Toledo.
AR1: Kyle Atkins.
AR2: Kevin Klinger.
4th: Malik Badawi.
VAR: Jose Carlos Rivero.
AVAR: Peter Balciunas.
How to Watch
Match Time: 2:30 p.m. ET.
Venue: Orlando City Stadium — Orlando, FL.
TV: Univision, Univision Deportes.
Radio: Real Radio 104.1 FM (English), La Nueva 990 (Spanish).
Streaming: YouTube TV.
Match Thread Rules
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Enjoy the match! Go City!