Welcome to your match thread for a Sunday conference semifinal match-up between Orlando City and the New England Revolution. This is the first meeting between the two MLS Eastern Conference rivals this season due to the quirkiness of the schedule in 2020 and the stakes are high.
The Lions are 2-4-5 in the all-time series against New England in league play and 2-0-4 at home. If you count all competitions, Orlando is 3-4-5 and 3-0-4 at home. Although neither side has won on the other team’s home ground in the series, the Revs have more or less owned things, having only been bested twice in 11 league meetings and three times out of 12 overall.
The last meeting came on Sept. 14, 2019 at Exploria Stadium, with the Lions overcoming a Tesho Akindele own goal and two deficits — the second by two goals — and rallying for a 3-3 draw. Akindele’s own goal opened the scoring 15 minutes in but Nani tied things up in the 22nd. Cristian Penilla and Gustavo Bou scored goals five minutes apart just before halftime to seemingly give the visitors control. But Dom Dwyer pulled one back just after the restart and Nani tied it up in the 54th minute.
The teams had met at Exploria Stadium in U.S. Open Cup action back on June 19, 2019, with the Lions scoring twice in a 30-minute extra time session and holding on for a 2-1 victory. Benji Michel and Akindele staked Orlando to a 2-0 lead before Justin Rennicks pulled one back off a Carles Gil back-post cross. City was able to see the game out but the Revs were certainly pressing hard for an equalizer right up to the final whistle.
But then the teams met in league play on July 27 of last year at Gillette Stadium and the Revs put the Lions on full blast, 4-1. Bou scored within the first two minutes of the game and the Revolution got more goals from Penilla, Gil and Diego Fagundez. Akindele pulled one back to avoid the shutout.
The last meeting of 2018 saw the Revs top a depleted Orlando side, 2-0 in Gillette Stadium on Oct. 13. Penilla and Fagundez provided the offense. In the first match-up of 2018, the teams combined for six goals in a 3-3 draw at Orlando City Stadium on Aug. 4. Orlando battled back from a 2-0 deficit after Juan Agudelo and Penilla found the net. Dwyer pulled one back and Amro Tarek scored his first MLS goal (which probably should have been changed to a Matt Turner own goal) to level things. Teal Bunbury restored the Revolution’s lead, but Scott Sutter headed home a Yoshimar Yotún set piece delivery in the 93rd to rescue a point for the Lions.
City completed a 6-1 demolition of 10-man New England at home Sept. 27, 2017. Kaká scored a brace, with Dwyer getting his first home goal as an MLS Lion and Yotún and Antonio Nocerino each scoring their first ever goal with OCSC. Seb Hines also scored for Orlando and Lee Nguyen got the Revs’ only tally on a free kick. New England won at Gillette Stadium that year by a 4-0 count and it could have been worse. Kei Kamara netted a hat trick and Bunbury also scored, with Nguyen assisting on all four goals to tie an MLS record. Jose Aja was sent off after receiving two yellow cards.
Orlando beat the Revs at home in Jason Kreis’ debut as the Lions’ coach on July 31, 2016, as Kevin Molino scored a brace for City in a 3-1 win. Cyle Larin also scored to more than offset Kamara’s strike. The teams also drew 2-2 twice in 2016 (and three times in the first four meetings), starting with the weird affair in Orlando back on April 17, 2016, in which the teams reached a controversial 2-2 final score. It was leveled by a very late Nguyen penalty for a handball in the box on Servando Carrasco, who didn’t touch it with any part of his hand or arm. Kaká opened the scoring on a penalty and Molino scored in the 92nd minute. Between those two goals, Bunbury scored off a corner that should have been ruled a goal kick.
The second 2016 meeting reached the same final score on April 30 in New England. This time the Revs appeared the better side for much of the game, but the Lions fought back twice from one-goal deficits on goals by Molino and Carlos Rivas to nullify scores by Fagundez and Agudelo.
The teams met twice in 2015, with Orlando City rallying from a 2-0 deficit in the final 17 minutes to draw 2-2 (there’s that score again) at the Citrus Bowl in April. Larin and Aurelien Collin provided the goals for the Lions. The Sept. 5 rematch at Gillette Stadium didn’t go as well, with New England taking a 3-0 win. Fagundez, Agudelo and Chris Tierney scored for the Revolution.
The winner of this match will advance to the Eastern Conference final. The Lions got here by besting New York City FC in a wild penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw. Nani’s penalty was canceled out by a corner kick header by Maxime Chanot. Ruan was sent off near the end of normal time and the Lions played 43 minutes or so while down a man. Then goalkeeper Pedro Gallese got sent off with a second yellow after his apparent shootout-winning save was reviewed and he was judged to have encroached. Rodrigo Schlegel came on as an emergency keeper and made the save heard ‘round the world, setting up Michel for the winning penalty.
New England got to this point by beating Montreal at home at the death on a Bou goal in the play-in round, and then scoring twice in a four-minute span to stun the Supporters’ Shield-winning Union in Philadelphia, holding on for a 2-0 win. Adam Buksa and Tajon Buchanan provided the offense — both assisted by Gil.
The Lions were 6-1-3 at Exploria Stadium during the regular season and are 6-1-4 overall at home this year, but Orlando hasn’t won either of its last two home matches (0-1-1 — remember, a penalty shootout win counts as a draw, with the team advancing on penalties). Meanwhile, the Revs have been a good road time in 2020, finishing the regular season 5-4-1 in true road games and 6-5-3 in all competitions away from Gillette Stadium when you include MLS is Back Tournament results.
The key to New England’s success in the postseason has been the return to fitness of Gil and Bou. Gil was limited to just four starts during the regular season due to an Achilles injury, and Bou started just 14 matches. The Revs are a much better team with the two stars in the lineup. Gil in particular serves as the focal point of New England’s attack in much the same way that Mauricio Pereyra does for Orlando, only he’s a better finisher, scoring 10 goals a year ago in his first MLS season. The Lions will need to prevent Gil from pulling the strings and from becoming a threat on set pieces to have success in this match.
“This player has tremendous influence on on the way. New England plays, especially from the middle to the last third of the offensive part of the game,” Oscar Pareja said of Gil. “So, we have seen it. We have studied, as well, their game. He sees runs and I hope that we can neutralize it. Obviously he’s a very talented player. We have players that already know the idea of his sequences and he is a good player, for sure. We have good players too that can control him and that’s what we aim for.”
The Lions will be without Ruan and Gallese due to red card suspension. Orlando City appealed Gallese’s sending off but it was upheld by the thieves of joy in the MLS offices. Ruan will be lucky to escape more than one game, which we likely won’t know for a while because MLS likes to publicly announce those extra games at the last minute for some reason. So we may not know for several days, if the Lions advance, or the start of next season. Further, Pareja said that Joao Moutinho (hamstring) will be held out again and Sebas Mendez remains in quarantine. While Pareja would not confirm online reports that Mendez tested positive for COVID-19, there are very few reasons Mendez would still be in quarantine otherwise after missing last Saturday’s match. Dwyer (knee surgery) is also out.
The Revs are basically healthy except for Penilla (left foot fracture) and midfielder Luis Caicedo (right knee) being out. In addition, Revs blogger Jake Catanese said fullbacks Alexander Buttner and Brandon Bye haven’t been on the postseason roster, but they also haven’t been on the injury report.
Mandatory Match Content
- Our Intelligence Report gives us more on Revs from Jake Catanese from SB Nation’s New England blog, The Bent Musket.
- This week’s PawedCast includes our key match-ups and score predictions for the match and we were joined by Jake Catanese for an update on the Revs’ 2020 season.
- Earlier this week, I wrote about the all-time series between the clubs.
- Our Christopher Adams wrote about the need for Orlando’s depth players to step up in the absence of Gallese and Ruan.
- Dave Rohe outlined what Orlando City must do to advance past New England.
Orlando City (4-4-2)
Goalkeeper: Brian Rowe.
Defenders: Kamal Miller, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, Kyle Smith.
Midfielders: Mauricio Pereyra, Uri Rosell, Junior Urso, Chris Mueller.
Forwards: Nani, Daryl Dike.
Bench: Mason Stajduhar, Alex De John, Rodrigo Schlegel, Joey DeZart, Robinho, Andres Perea, Tesho Akindele, Alexander Alvarado, Benji Michel.
New England Revolution (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Matt Turner.
Defenders: DeJuan Jones, Henry Kessler, Andrew Farrell, Tajon Buchanan.
Defensive Midfielders: Scott Caldwell, Matt Polster.
Attacking Midfielders: Teal Bunbury, Gustavo Bou, Carles Gil.
Forward: Adam Buksa.
Bench: Brad Knighton, Michael Mancienne, Brandon Bye, Lee Nguyen, Kelyn Rowe, Tommy McNamara, Kekuta Manneh, Justin Rennicks.
Ref: Alex Chilowicz.
AR1: Jason White.
AR2: Ian McKay.
4th: Joseph Dickerson.
VAR: Chris Penso.
AVAR: Jose Da Silva.
How to Watch
Match Time: 3 p.m. ET.
Venue: Exploria Stadium — Orlando, FL.
TV: ABC, ESPN Deportes.
Radio: 104.1 FM Real Radio (English), Accion 97.9 (Spanish), 810 AM.
Streaming: The match can be streamed on the ESPN app in the U.S., ESPN Deportes+, the ABC app, and ESPN3 (with authentication).
Enjoy the match! Go City!