Welcome to your match thread for a Decision Day match-up between Orlando City (11-3-8, 41 points) and Nashville SC (7-7-8, 29 points) at Exploria Stadium. It’s the third and final meeting between the two southeastern sides this season and the second in Orlando.
The Lions are looking to lock up third place in the standings, while Nashville will attempt to move up from the team’s current eighth-place seeding and avoid the Eastern Conference play-in round.
Here’s what you need to know ahead of the match.
The Lions are 1-0-1 in the all-time series, with the teams playing to a 1-1 draw in Nashville on Sept. 2 in the most recent meeting. Benji Michel put the Lions ahead but Randall Leal knotted things up and that’s the way the match ended.
That 1-1 draw came a week after a 3-1 Orlando City win Aug. 26 at Exploria Stadium. Dave Romney had opened the scoring for Nashville with a header off a free kick but Orlando scored the last three. Rookie Daryl Dike took a star turn for Orlando City, scoring a brace. Chris Mueller also scored for the Lions.
The Lions have won their last three MLS matches, equaling the team’s longest winning streak of 2020, out-scoring their opponents, 7-2. Orlando is 6-0-3 in home matches in 2020 after Wednesday’s 2-1 win over the Columbus Crew, despite being down a man for almost the entire second half.
Nashville is coming off a 1-0 home loss to FC Dallas in the midweek and is winless in its last two (0-1-1). The new boys have won just one of their last four (1-2-1) but that came on the road against Montreal. Nashville is 3-5-3 in road games this season, winning its last two away from Nissan Stadium.
The 2020 expansion side continues to be a stingy defensive team and is currently tied for the MLS league for the fewest goals conceded on the season, with 20, along with Columbus and Philadelphia. It has been six games since the last time Nashville allowed more than one goal in a match. Head Coach Oscar Pareja said the key for Orlando is to create sequences that cause instability in Nashville’s stout defense.
“Nashville has been a team very, very regular in the way they defend,” Parjea said Friday in his pre-match press conference. “They have a pair of very good central backs. And in front of them, Dax McCarty and (Anibal) Godoy too, they do a very good job of sustaining the middle and try to keep that solidness in the defensive phase.
“When we have played against them, we see that as a strength for them, obviously, but at the same time we’re trying to expose them in different ways and different manners to see if — having the ball and having the initiative — we can create those gaps that can open those central backs and give us the chance to get through. They’re good in the air. They have players that are very strong in that area.”
Nani is available for the match after having his red card from Wednesday’s game against Columbus rescinded by the Independent Review Panel (see link below in the match content section). Mauricio Pereyra is suspended for yellow card accumulation. Orlando City will also be without Dom Dwyer (knee surgery), Joao Moutinho (groin), and both Michael Halliday and David Loera (undisclosed injuries). Nashville will be without Dominique Badji, Abu Danladi, and Jack Maher (all with undisclosed injuries).
Mandatory Match Content
- Our Ben Miller outlines his three keys for an Orlando City victory.
- This week’s PawedCast includes our key match-ups and predictions for tonight’s game, as well as a discussion with former Orlando City midfielder and current Nashville SC TV analyst Jamie Watson.
- Nani’s red card was rescinded and the captain is eligible to play in this match.
Orlando City (4-4-2)
Goalkeeper: Brian Rowe.
Defenders: Kyle Smith, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, Ruan.
Midfielders: Jordan Bender, Junior Urso, Andres Perea, Chris Mueller.
Forwards: Nani, Daryl Dike.
Bench: Mason Stajduhar, Kamal Miller, Rodrigo Schlegel, Sebas Mendez, Joey DeZart, Tesho Akindele, Alexander Alvarado, Benji Michel, Matheus Aias.
Nashville SC (4-4-1-1 )
Goalkeeper: Joe Willis.
Defenders: Daniel Lovitz, Dave Romney, Walker Zimmerman, Alistair Johnston.
Midfielders: Randall Leal, Dax McCarty, Anibal Godoy, Alex Muyl.
Attacking Midfielder: Derrick Jones.
Forward: Daniel Rios.
Bench: Elliot Panicco, Jalil Anibaba, Eric Miller, Taylor Washington, Hany Mukhtar, Tah Anunga, Handwalla Bwana, Matt LaGrassa, Jhonder Cádiz.
Ref: David Gantar.
AR1: Adam Garner.
AR2: Benjamin Hall-Volpenhein.
4th: Elvis Osmanovic.
VAR: Sorin Stoica.
AVAR: Kyle Longville.
How to Watch
Match Time: 3:30 p.m. ET.
Venue: Exploria Stadium — Orlando, FL.
TV: FOX 35 Plus (local only).
Radio: Real Radio 104.1 FM (English) and Acción 97.9 FM, 810 AM (Spanish).
Streaming: The match can be streamed on ESPN+ although it will be blacked out locally as there is still not a local streaming agreement in place.
The Mane Land has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though The Mane Land and SB Nation may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our guiding principles.
Enjoy the game! Go City!