Welcome to your match thread and preview for a Saturday afternoon match-up between Orlando City (3-3-2, 11 points) and New York City FC (2-1-5, 11 points) at Yankee Stadium. This is the second of the two scheduled meetings between the Eastern Conference rivals and fellow 2015 expansion teams in 2019.
These teams opened the season against each other for the third time in five seasons. That initial meeting was the first of what is already five draws on the 2019 season for the Pigeons. Maybe it shouldn’t have been a draw, but we’ll get into that more in a second.
The Lions are 5-5-3 in 13 meetings with the Pigeons in the all-time series, and 2-3-1 on the road. Orlando has more wins against NYCFC than against any other MLS foe. However, New York City is unbeaten in the last five league meetings in a row (4-0-1). A 2-2 opening day draw snapped the Pigeons’ four-game series win streak, in which they’d out-scored the Lions 10-0 in that span. New York City grabbed a 2-0 lead on goals by Ebenezer Ofori and Alexander Ring, despite Orlando playing well in the game. The Lions, as they sometimes do, roared back on goals by Chris Mueller and Tesho Akindele and may have had a third from a spot when Maxime Chanot handled the ball in the box but no penalty was given.
Prior to opening day of this year, no Orlando City player other than Cyle Larin had 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.
James O’Connor’s team started the season with a pair of draws and since then has alternated results for six consecutive games, going loss, win, loss, win, loss, win. If that pattern holds, this will not be a happy weekend for the Lions or their fans. NYCFC has won two consecutive games — the team’s first two wins of the season — and is unbeaten in its last four (2-0-2). OCSC is 1-1-1 on the road in 2019 so far, while the Pigeons are, as usual, difficult to beat at home, where they are 1-0-3 this season.
Domenec Torrent has gone to a three-man back line and it’s paid dividends for the Pigeons. The team has also benefited from the addition of Brazilian striker Heber, who has a goal and two assists in his first two starts, which coincide with NYCFC’s first two wins of the year. The Pigeons did play Wednesday (a 1-0 win over the Chicago Fire), but they didn’t have to travel, so there might not be too much rotation from the midweek — especially when you consider that players typically only have to run about 27 feet over the course of a 90-minute game at Yankee Stadium. (I kid, kind of.)
Orlando City is trying to get healthy. Defenders Carlos Ascues and Alex De John are both questionable as they near returns from hamstring issues. New York City got Valentín Castellanos back from a concussion for Wednesday’s game against Chicago. Alexandru Mitrita and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi are both questionable with ankle injuries, but Tajouri-Shradi was in the 18 on Wednesday.
As usual, the Lions will have to mark Maxi Moralez and they’ll have to keep an eye on NYCFC’s strikers. Meanwhile, on the other end they’ll have to make quick decisions when taking on defenders to avoid Ring swooping in from behind to nick the ball away.
Whoever avoids turnovers should have the upper hand in this game, given the dimensions of the pitch at Yankee Stadium.
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.
- Earlier today I posted this story about the Lions playing their first repeat opponent of the year.
Orlando City (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Brian Rowe.
Defenders: Joao Moutinho, Robin Jansson, Lamine Sané, Ruan.
Midfielders: Will Johnson, Uri Rosell, Sebas Mendez.
Forwards: Nani, Tesho Akindele, Chris Mueller.
Bench: Greg Ranjitsingh, Kamal Miller, Kyle Smith, Cristian Higuita, Josué Colmán, Sacha Kljestan, Dom Dwyer.
New York City FC (3-4-3)
Goalkeeper: Sean Johnson.
Defenders: Alex Callens, James Sands Maxime Chanot,
Midfielders: Anton Tinnerholm, Alex Ring, Ebenezer Ofori, Ben Sweat.
Forwards: Maxi Moralez, Heber, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi.
Bench: Brad Stuver, Jesus Medina, Tony Rocha, Valentin Castellanos, Sebastien Ibeagha, Keaton Parks, Alexandru Mitrita.
Ref: Drew Fischer.
AR1: Logan Brown.
AR2: Claudiu Badea.
4th: Mark Allatin.
VAR: Edvin Jurisevic.
AVAR: Ian McKay.
How to Watch
Match Time: 1 p.m. ET.
Venue: Yankee Stadium — The Bronx, NY.
TV: My65 (local only).
Radio: FM 96.9 The Game (English), La Nueva 990 (Spanish).
Streaming: YouTube TV, ESPN+.
Match Thread Rules
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Enjoy the match! Go City!