Welcome to your match thread and preview for a Wednesday night match-up between Orlando City and New York City FC at Exploria Stadium. This will be the second and final scheduled meeting between the Lions (8-2-6, 30 points) and Pigeons (8-7-2, 26 points) this season (7:30 p.m., FOX 35 Plus).
The Lions are 6-5-4 in 15 meetings with NYCFC in the all-time series in MLS play and 6-5-5 including USOC play (remember, games that go to penalty shootouts in knockout competition are officially draws), so the series between the two 2015 expansion sides has proven to be a competitive one, even though the teams’ overall fortunes have been quite different. Orlando is 3-2-2 at home in this series in MLS play and 3-2-3 at home in all competitions.
The teams last met in the MLS is Back Tournament on July 14, when Chris Mueller’s brace and a late Tesho Akindele insurance goal led Orlando to a 3-1 win. Jesus Medina scored for NYCFC. That win snapped Orlando City’s 0-4-3 streak in the previous seven competitive meetings with the Pigeons. The last match in that winless streak against NYCFC was a 1-1 draw with the Lions then dispatching NYCFC from the U.S. Open Cup in a penalty shootout on July 10, 2019. That night has been immortalized for the running of The Wall and Adam Grinwis’ heroics in goal.
The teams played to a 1-1 draw on April 27, 2019 at Yankee Stadium. 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 in 2019 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 Mueller and Akindele and may have had a third from the spot when Maxime Chanot handled the ball in the box but no penalty was given.
The Lions had lost four straight games in the series prior to last year’s trio of draws. Orlando’s last victory in the series prior to that came on opening day of 2017, when Cyle Larin christened the stadium now known as Exploria with the only goal in a 1-0 OCSC win. Orlando was 3-1-2 in 2015 and 2016 in the first six meetings with NYCFC, and 4-1-2 after the opening day win in 2017. New York City has turned that around over the last couple of seasons to make this a much more even series overall.
Orlando had its scheduled match Sunday against Columbus postponed due to two positive COVID-19 tests on the Crew staff. That provided an extra day of much-needed rest for the Lions, who are riding a club record 10-match unbeaten streak (6-0-4). New York City FC lost 2-1 at home to New England on Sunday, snapping a three-game winning streak.
The Lions are 4-0-2 at home this season and have won their last three matches at Exploria Stadium. However, Orlando City has won only once in the last three matches, sandwiching a home win over the New York Red Bulls between two 0-0 road draws at FC Dallas and Atlanta. Those draws might have been wins if not for a lengthy list of significant injuries for Orlando City (more on that below). NYCFC is 2-3-2 in true road matches in 2020, but 2-0-2 in its last four away games. The Pigeons went 1-2-0 in the group matches in the MLS is Back Tournament, so they’re 3-5-2 in all matches away from home this season.
New York City FC has turned its season around after a rough start. The Pigeons lost their first four matches of the season by a combined score of 6-1. They are 7-3-2 since MLS resumed league play and have won three of their last four.
Look for New York City FC to try to keep the ball and build attacks. Alex Ring is a wizard at recovering the ball and the Pigeons will look for opportunities to transition off of turnovers. Defensively, NYCFC is the fourth best team in the East, conceding just 15 times in 17 games with a strong central defense pairing of Chanot and Alex Callens.
“They’re very solid with four in the back, always tried to play the ball out and, and it doesn’t surprise me, because this seems to be the idea of of the model in New York for many years,” Head Coach Oscar Pareja said in his Monday press conference. “They like to attack by the flags because they have fast wingers — some of them inverted — and that creates some volume in the middle for them. I think it’s going to be a very important, and a very hard, game for both and I hope that we can get the three points.”
The Lions are still dealing with several injuries. As of this writing, the MLS injury report was last updated on Oct. 9. We know Orlando City will be without Dom Dwyer (knee surgery), Joao Moutinho (groin), and likely also Tesho Akindele and Mauricio Pereyra (both undisclosed injuries), but Uri Rosell and Ruan (both undisclosed injuries) may be available as both have been seen in videos training with the team in recent days. Rosell is listed as out on the injury report so he might need a few more days of full team training. Ruan isn’t listed at all. Additionally, Orlando City announced this weekend that one first-team player has tested positive for COVID-19 and is in isolation (though asymptomatic) and we don’t know who that is at this time. Benji Michel is the only new player added to those listed as out with an undisclosed injury, so make of that what you will.
Orlando will not have to contend with usual foil Maxi Moralez (knee), or forward Heber (knee surgery) in this match, and New York City will also be missing midfielder Gedion Zelalem (knee) and defender Tayvon Gray (undisclosed injury). Orlando City also won’t see Alexandru Mitrita, who was recently loaned to a team in Saudi Arabia. Still, NYCFC doesn’t lack for attacking talent.
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 upcoming game against the New York Red Bulls. We were joined by Christian from Hudson River Blue to discuss this match and Ben Cork of Once a Metro to discuss Sunday’s game.
Orlando City (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Brian Rowe.
Defenders: Kamal Miller, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, Ruan.
Defensive Midfielders: Joey DeZart, Junior Urso.
Attacking Midfielders: Nani, Andres Perea, Chris Mueller.
Forward: Daryl Dike.
Bench: Mason Stajduhar, Michael Halliday, Alex De John, Rodrigo Schlegel, Jordan Bender, David Loera, Robinho.
New York City FC (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Sean Johnson.
Defenders: Ronald Matarrita, Maxime Chanot, Alexander Callens, Anton Tinnerholm
Defensive Midfielders: Keaton Parks, Gudmundur Thórarinsson.
Attacking Midfielders: Jesus Medina, Alexander Ring, Gary Mackay-Steven.
Forwards: Valentin Castellanos.
Bench: Brad Stuver, Luis Barranza, Sebastien Ibeagha, Joe Scally, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, Tony Rocha, Juan Torres, Nicolás Acevedo.
Ref: Silviu Petrescu.
AR1: Gjovalin Bori.
AR2: Brooke Mayo.
4th: Natalie Simon.
VAR: Daniel Radford.
AVAR: Kyle Longville.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7:30 p.m. ET.
Venue: Exploria Stadium — Orlando, FL.
TV: FOX 35 Plus (local only).
Radio: Real Radio 104.1 FM (English), Accion 97.9 FM and 810 AM (Spanish).
Streaming: The match can be streamed on ESPN+ (out of market only).
Enjoy the match! Go City!
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