Welcome to your match thread and preview for a Saturday afternoon match-up between Orlando City (7-2-5, 26 points) and the New York Red Bulls (6-6-2, 20 points) at Exploria Stadium (4:30 p.m., FOX). This is the first of two scheduled meetings between the Eastern Conference rivals in 2020 and the only one in Orlando. The return leg at Red Bull Arena is scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 18.
The Lions are on their longest unbeaten streak in the team’s MLS era, at eight games (5-0-3), and return from a successful two-game road swing. Orlando claimed four of a possible six points in a win at Sporting Kansas City and a draw at FC Dallas.
New York has won two straight games and three of its last four (3-1-0), after a rough start that included the Red Bulls going winless in the previous four outings (0-3-1) and parting ways with former head coach Chris Armas.
The Lions are 4-6-1 in 11 meetings with the Red Bulls in the all-time series, with a 2-2-1 mark at home against New York. The Red Bulls won 1-0 in their last visit to Exploria Stadium in the most recent meeting on July 21, 2019. Brian White’s goal stood up as Carlos Ascues, Tesho Akindele, and Sacha Kljestan each hit the woodwork in the second half.
Prior to that, the Lions eked out a 1-0 win at Red Bull Arena on Kljestan’s goal on March 23, 2019. Before that, the home team had won each of the last five home games in the series, splitting a pair of matches during the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
The Red Bulls grabbed a 1-0 result in the 2018 season finale to capture the Supporters’ Shield. That’s three consecutive 1-0 matches but the games used to be a bit more high scoring.
Prior to the 2018 finale, the clubs met in Orlando on March 31, 2018. The Lions pulled off a 4-3 home victory. Dom Dwyer marked his season debut with a brace and Will Johnson and Josué Colmán added goals to lift Orlando — the latter actually was a shot by Scott Sutter that went off the Paraguayan’s back. Florian Valot, Derrick Etienne, and Aaron Long scored for New York.
The teams met three times in 2016, with New York going 2-0-1. The teams split two games in 2015 with the road team winning both times, including Orlando City’s 5-2 win in New Jersey — the Lions’ only road win against the Red Bulls prior to March — behind a Cyle Larin hat trick.
Orlando is 3-0-2 at home in 2020, while the Red Bulls are 2-1-2 in true road matches this season, 3-3-2 in all games away from home, and are unbeaten in their last three away from Red Bull Arena (2-0-1).
The Red Bulls are red hot, winning their last two matches by identical 4-1 scores at Miami and home against Montreal. Six different players have scored goals for New York in that span, led by Daniel Royer’s two goals and two assists. Tom Barlow has chipped in a pair of goals, while Kaku has a goal and an assist in that span.
Royer’s recent resurgence is part of New York’s sudden re-emergence. Royer leads the Red Bulls with four goals and he’s tied for second on the club in assists (3). Kaku leads New York in assists (4) to go with two goals.
With the Red Bulls, the faces may change but the team does not. New York will press high, look to force turnovers, and try to create overloads and odd-man situations. Lazy or off-line passes by Orlando’s back line or midfield will be punished with extreme prejudice.
This could be problematic since the Lions will be without the suspended Sebas Mendez and injured Uri Rosell — although Oscar Pareja said Thursday that the Spaniard is getting closer to a return. Antonio Carlos could be available for this match, but Rodrigo Schlegel has played well in his absence. Other Lions who will be out are Dwyer (knee surgery), Joao Moutinho (groin), and right back Ruan (hamstring) is questionable.
New York may be without goalkeeper Ryan Meara (hip) and midfielders Sean Davis (knee) and Marc Rzatkowski (hip). Defender Patrick Seagrist (groin) is out.
“(New York) has been performing lately very well in terms of results,” Pareja said. “Our intentions won’t change, but obviously recognizing what they do and what are the opportunities we may have is important for our players. But I don’t have any doubt that the Red Bulls will be a very intense match for sure.”
Mandatory Match #Content
- Our Intelligence Report gives us more on the New York Red Bulls from Dan Feuerstein from SB Nation’s Once a Metro and the Feuerstein’s Fire podcast.
- This week’s PawedCast includes our key match-ups and score predictions for tonight’s match, as well as our talk with Once a Metro editor Ben Cork, who provides more insight on the Red Bulls.
- Earlier this week I discussed Pareja’s options for replacing the suspended Mendez in this match.
Orlando City (4-4-2)
Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.
Defenders: Kamal Miller, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, Kyle Smith.
Midfielders: Mauricio Pereyra, Andres Perea, Junior Urso, Chris Mueller.
Forwards: Daryl Dike, Nani.
Bench: Brian Rowe, Mason Stajduhar, Antonio Carlos, Alex De John, Robinho, Joey DeZart, David Loera, Jordan Bender, Benji Michel.
New York Red Bulls (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: David Jensen.
Defenders: Kyle Duncan, Tim Parker, Aaron Long, Mandela Egbo.
Defensive Midfielders: Cristian Cásseres, Jr., Florian Valot.
Attacking Midfielders: Jason Pendant, Kaku, Daniel Royer.
Forward: Brian White.
Bench: Ryan Meara, Sean Nealis, Marc Rzatkowski, Omir Fernandez, Benjamin Mines, Jared Stroud, Drew Yearwood, Samuel Tetteh, Mathias Jorgensen.
Ref: Fotis Bazakos.
AR1: Eric Weisbrod.
AR2: Cory Richardson.
4th: Elvis Osmanovic.
VAR: Ismail Elfath.
AVAR: Kyle Longville.
How to Watch
Match Time: 4:30 p.m. ET.
Venue: Exploria Stadium — Orlando.
TV: FOX. FOX Deportes.
Radio: Real Radio 104.1 FM (English), Acción 97.9 FM and 810 AM (Spanish).
Streaming: FOX Sports GO.
Enjoy the match! Go City!