Welcome to your match thread for a Wednesday night match-up between Orlando City SC (6-8-3, 21 points) and the Philadelphia Union (9-5-5, 32 points). This is the first of two scheduled league meetings between the Eastern Conference rivals in 2019, with the return leg at Philadelphia coming this Saturday night at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, PA.
Orlando City is 3-3-3 in the nine MLS meetings with the Union since the club joined Major League Soccer in 2015, and 3-4-3 in all competitions. The Lions are 1-0-3 at home in the series.
The teams drew 2-2 in a wild finish in the most recent meeting, last Sept. 1 in Orlando. Just when it looked like Fafa Picault had lifted the Union to victory with a strike in the 88th minute, Scott Sutter equalized in stoppage time to salvage a point for the Lions. Dom Dwyer and Corey Burke also scored in that match.
The Lions and Union played twice in Philly in 2019, most recently in a USOC match won by Philadelphia, 1-0 on a goal by Alejandro Bedoya. The Lions prevailed over the Union at Talen Energy Stadium on April 13, 2018 by a 2-0 score. Dwyer and Chris Mueller provided the offense.
The teams split their two matches in 2017, 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. Dwyer gave Orlando its only goal, while Earl Edwards Jr. (in his first MLS start) was beaten twice each by Ilsinho, 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 the heels of Saturday night’s 2-0 win at Columbus. Nani was a beast, setting up goals by Chris Mueller and Tesho Akindele. However, the Lions are just 3-4-1 at home this season. Philadelphia is 0-1-1 in its last two road games, including a 4-2 loss at New York City FC over the weekend. The Union have cooled off a bit after a hot start, winning just twice in their last seven matches (2-2-3) but are a respectable 3-3-3 away from Talen Energy Stadium in 2019.
Cristian Higuita is out with a hamstring injury and Joao Moutinho (quad) was also ruled out by James O’Connor after training Monday. Adam Grinwis (quad) is listed as questionable, but wasn’t likely to feature anyway. The Lions have gotten back their international players and Dwyer has returned from his paternity leave.
For Philadelphia, star goalkeeper Andre Blake and forward Cory Burke will be out on Gold Cup duty with Jamaica against the USMNT tonight. Warren Creavalle (foot) and right back Olivier Mbaizo (knee) are out, while Marco Fabian (ankle) and Michee Ngalina (lower body) are listed as questionable.
With the two teams set to square off again on Saturday night, it’s possible that Jim Curtin will rotate some squad for this away game, while O’Connor might be more likely to play a full-strength lineup tonight and rotate in some lesser-used players on Saturday.
Philadelphia’s resurgence is largely due to shoring up its defense. The central defense pairing of Jack Elliott and Auston Trusty has been good and midfielders Bedoya and Haris Medunjanin have shielded them well. Picault generally gives Orlando fits on the wing and even though he only has two goals on the season, coverage will be a big job for Ruan tonight. Newcomer Kacper Przybylko has had a successful start to the season with six goals to lead all Union players. Ilsinho has tortured the Lions before and he’s become a true supersub threat, taking advantage of the opposition’s tired legs.
Orlando City will need to create quality chances against the Union defense. The Lions managed only three shot attempts on Saturday but got all three on frame and thankfully two of them went in. Orlando will need to create more opportunities against the Union defense and make the most of them when they occur.
Mandatory Match #Content
- Our Intelligence Report provides more info 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 for tonight’s game. Don’t use them as a basis for wagering.
Orlando City (4-3-3),
Goalkeeper: Brian Rowe.
Defenders: Danilo Acosta, Robin Jansson, Lamine Sané, Ruan.
Midfielders: Sacha Kljestan, Sebas Mendez, Will Johnson.
Forwards: Nani, Tesho Akindele, Chris Mueller.
Bench: Greg Ranjitsingh, Kyle Smith, Kamal Miller, Shane O’Neill, Carlos Ascues, Benji Michel, Dom Dwyer.
Philadelphia Union (4-4-2 diamond)
Goalkeeper: Matt Freese.
Defenders: Kai Wagner, Auston Trusty, Jack Elliott, Raymon Gaddis.
Defensive Midfielder: Haris Medunjanin.
Midfielders: Brenden Aaronson, Alejandro Bedoya.
Attacking Midfielder: Jamiro Monteiro.
Forwards: Fabrice-Jean Picault, Kacper Przybylko.
Bench: Carlos, Aurélien Collin, RJ Allen, Fabinho, Marco Fabián, Anthony Fontana, Sergio Santos.
Ref: Chris Penso.
AR1: Jeremy Hanson.
AR2: Mike Rottersman.
4th: Elvis Osmanovic.
VAR: Edvin Jurisevic.
AVAR: Jozef Batko.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7:30 p.m. (ET).
Venue: Exploria Stadium — Orlando, FL.
TV: My65 (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!