Welcome to your match thread and preview for a Wednesday night U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal match-up between Orlando City and New York City FC at Exploria Stadium. This will be the third time the two Eastern Conference rivals have met during the 2019 season — the fourth if you count the preseason Orlando City Invitational, won 2-1 by the Lions.
These teams opened the season against each other for the third time in five seasons. The teams met again in April and concluded the MLS season series before the end of the second month of the season had expired.
The Lions are 5-5-4 in 14 meetings with the Pigeons in the all-time series, and 3-2-2 at home but all of those matches were in league play. Orlando is riding a 0-4-2 streak in the last six competitive meetings. The teams have never before met in the U.S. Open Cup. Orlando has more wins against NYCFC than against any other MLS foe.
The teams last met April 27 at Yankee Stadium, playing to a 1-1 draw. Nani scored the opener in the 18th minute but it was canceled out by Heber in the 51st minute. A 2-2 opening day draw snapped the Pigeons’ four-game series win streak, in which they’d outscored 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 got to this point by beating Memphis 901 FC 3-1 in Round 4, and then edging the New England Revolution 2-1 in the Round of 16. The Lions won the former on two Sacha Kljestan goals and Robin Jansson’s first as a Lion. Coincidentally, those two players were sent off a week ago against the Philadelphia Union in MLS action, but both should be available for selection in this match-up. The latter was a nervy scoreless draw through normal time but Orlando got goals from Benji Michel and Akindele, then held on for dear life.
NYCFC beat North Carolina FC 4-0 in the fourth round and then advanced to the quarterfinals with a 2-1 win at D.C. United in the Round of 16. The Pigeons have only lost twice all season in all competitions, with one of those coming Sunday night at home against the Portland Timbers, 1-0. Obviously they were looking ahead to the Lions. New York City FC did play a strong lineup on Sunday night, while Orlando — forced by the league to play on Sunday afternoon after severe weather postponed Saturday night’s game at Philadelphia — rested several starters while others played less than half the game.
Because of a totally predictable travel fiasco due to league incompetence (let’s be nice and call it that instead of malevolence), the Lions didn’t return home until Monday afternoon, giving the team one day to prepare for a knockout tournament quarterfinal. Big thanks, MLS office! Sunday’s match also kicked off a brutal span of five games in 15 days and was the first of three in this very calendar week.
Orlando City has reached the quarterfinals four times throughout the club’s history but the Lions have never advanced to the semifinals. A home win on Wednesday (or, a penalty shootout win after a draw) would see the Lions through to their deepest run ever in the competition.
As usual, the Lions will have to mark Maxi Moralez and they’ll have to keep an eye on Valentin Castellanos . 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.
The Lions are still without Cristian Higuita (hamstring) and could be without Joao Moutinho (quad), who is listed as questionable. Shane O’Neill picked up a knock Sunday but as of this writing the extent is unknown.
New York City’s outdated as of this writing injury report (thanks, MLS!) shows Joe Scally (hip), James Sands (broken arm), Tony Rocha (hamstring), and Heber (hamstring) as out. Jesus Medina (hamstring) is questionable on the report, though he dressed and played 22 minutes on Sunday. Alexandru Mitrita (hamstring) and Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (ankle) are listed as questionable but let’s assume they’re playing.
Mandatory Match #Content
- Our Intelligence Report gets some background on New York City FC from Christian Smith of SB Nation’s Hudson River Blue.
- This week’s PawedCast includes our key match-ups and score predictions for both the New York City FC game and the match on Saturday against Columbus.
Orlando City (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Adam Grinwis.
KDefenders: Kyle Smith,Robin Jansson, Lamine Sané, Ruan.
Midfielders: Will Johnson, Sebas Mendez, Sacha Kljestan.
Forwards: Nani, Tesho Akindele, Chris Mueller.
Bench: Brian Rowe, Alex De John, Uri Rosell, Dillon Powers, Benji Michel, Santiago Patino, Dom Dwyer.
New York City FC (3-4-3)
Goalkeeper: Brad Stuver.
Defenders: Ben Sweat, Maxime Chanot, Sebastien Ibeagha.
Midfielders: Jesus Medina, Ebenezer Ofori, Alex Ring, Juan Torres.
Forwards: Maxi Moralez, Heber, Ronald Matarrita.
Bench: Luis Barraza, Anton Tinnerholm, Alex Callens, Daniel Bedoya, Keaton Parks, Valentin Castellanos, Justin Haak.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7:30 p.m. ET.
Venue: Exploria Stadium — Orlando, FL.
Match Thread Rules
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Enjoy the match! Go City!
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