Welcome to your match thread for tonight’s match-up between Orlando City SC (2-1-1, 7 points, 2-0-0 in MLS is Back) and the Philadelphia Union (2-1-1, 7 points, 2-0-0) at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex (8 p.m., ESPN, TUDN). This is the first meeting between the Eastern Conference rivals in 2020 and the winner will take Group A. Additionally, Orlando City would capture the group with a draw, entering the game with a better goal differential.
Orlando City is 3-4-4 in the 10 MLS meetings with the Union since the club joined Major League Soccer in 2015, and 3-5-4 in all competitions. The most recent meeting came July 7 of last season at Talen Energy Stadium, with the Lions and Union drawing 2-2. Dom Dwyer and Santiago Patino brought Orlando back from 1-0 down but Kacper Przybylko poached a goal in the 90th to capture a share of the points for the Union. That match was postponed by MLS on the night it was set to take place — a move that Orlando City fought against — and instead was played the next day.
The two teams had met just a few days earlier on July 3, ending in Orlando’s 3-1 home loss against the Union. Chris Mueller and Przybylko swapped goals in the first half before Robin Jansson was sent off moments before the break. Afterwards, the 10-men Lions gave up two more goals — one to Przybylko and the other to Fafa Picault — and then went down another man with Sacha Kljestan seeing red.
The teams drew 2-2 in a wild finish on Sept. 1, 2018 in Orlando. Just when it looked like Picault had lifted the Union to victory with a strike in the 88th minute, Scott Sutter equalized in stoppage time to salvage a point for the Lions. Dwyer and Corey Burke also scored in that match.
The Lions and Union played twice in Philly in 2018, including a USOC match July 18, 2018, won by Philadelphia, 1-0 on a goal by Alejandro Bedoya. The Lions prevailed over the Union at Talen Energy Stadium on April 13, 2018 by a 2-0 score. Dwyer and Mueller provided the offense.
The teams split their two matches in 2017, with the home side prevailing both times. The Lions won 2-1 at Orlando City Stadium on March 18 as part of the team’s hot start. Cyle Larin scored a brace to lead the Lions. C.J. Sapong scored for Philadelphia. The rematch was an ugly 6-1 Philadelphia win in the season finale for both teams. Dwyer gave Orlando its only goal, while Earl Edwards Jr. (in his first MLS start) was beaten twice each by Ilsinho, Picault, and Sapong.
The Lions were 1-1-1 against Philadelphia in 2016. The team’s first road victory in the series came on Oct. 16, 2016, as the Lions roared, 2-0. Carlos Rivas and Julio Baptista scored. The teams played to a 2-2 draw on May 25 in Orlando, as Ken Tribbett made the Lions pay for Kaká’s missed penalty in the first half by scoring an equalizing goal off a corner kick. Kevin Molino and Larin scored for Orlando City, and Tranquillo Barnetta also scored for the Union. Barnetta’s free kick in the 89th minute gave Philly a 2-1 win on March 8 of 2016, with Adrian Winter scoring for the Lions on the road.
Both teams are through to the knockout stages in the MLS is Back Tournament, with tonight’s winner taking Group A and getting a lower seeded team in the Round of 16. But with this match counting toward the 2020 standings, and the two teams even in those overall standings, this match should have plenty at stake for both clubs to go for it.
The Lions will need to improve from last week’s win over New York City FC in terms of keeping the ball. Orlando did well until taking a 2-0 lead and then the Pigeons kept the ball most of the remainder of the game. Orlando cannot allow Philadelphia the same leeway with possession.
Przybylko is the man to watch up top for Philadelphia. He can make things happen with very little space with his powerful shot. The Union were lethal in transition against Inter Miami in Round 2 of the tournament. Despite the expansion side seeing a good deal of the pressure and attacking zone possession, Philadelphia sliced Miami apart on the counter.
Orlando’s midfield will need a strong showing tonight due to the success so far from Brenden Aaronson. His play last week has him on the MLS Team of the Week alongside Orlando City’s Mueller, Pedro Gallese, and Head Coach Oscar Pareja. Aaronson has controlled the middle in Philadelphia’s 4-1-2-1-2 formation.
The Lions should have most everyone fit for tonight unless there was something picked up in training. Philadelphia will be missing Jose Martinez due to suspension. He’ll likely be replaced by Warren Creavalle in the lineup. The rest of Philadelphia’s starters should be available although Sergio Santos may be limited.
Mandatory Match #Content
- This week's PawedCast includes our key match-ups and score predictions for tonight’s game.
- Our Intelligence Report features a scouting report on the Union courtesy of Joe Lister of SBNation’s Brotherly Game blog.
Orlando City (4-4-2),
Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.
Defenders: Joao Moutinho, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, Ruan.
Midfielders: Mauricio Pereyra, Uri Rosell, Junior Urso, Chris Mueller.
Forwards: Nani, Tesho Akindele.
Philadelphia Union (4-1-2-1-2)
Goalkeeper: Andre Blake.
Defenders: Kai Wagner, Mark McKenzie, Jack Elliott, Ray Gaddis.
Defensive Midfielder: Warren Creavalle.
Midfielders: Alejandro Bedoya, Jamiro Monteiro.
Attacking Midfielder: Brenden Aaronson.
Forwards: Kacper Przybylko, Sergio Santos.
REF: Rubiel Vazquez.
AR1: Brian Dunn.
AR2: Benjamin Hall-Volpenhein.
4TH: Drew Fischer.
VAR: Ismail Elfath.
AVAR: Chris Wattam.
How to Watch
Match Time: 8 p.m. (ET).
Venue: ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex — Orlando, FL.
TV: ESPN, TUDN.
Radio: FM 96.9 The Game (English), Acción 97.9 FM and 810 AM (Spanish).
Enjoy the match! Go City!
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.