Welcome to your match thread for a Friday night MLS is Back quarterfinal match-up between Orlando City (2-1-2, 8 points in MLS play, 3-0-1 in MLS is Back) and Los Angeles FC (2-0-3, 9 points, 2-0-2 in MLS is Back) at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex (7:30 p.m. FS1, TUDN). These teams were not scheduled to meet in 2020 on the original MLS season schedule but 2020 and the coronavirus had other ideas, so here we are.
The winner of tonight’s match will advance to the semifinals to face the winner of tomorrow night’s match-up between the San Jose Earthquakes and Minnesota United.
Orlando City has yet to taste victory against LAFC (0-1-1). LAFC won the initial meeting of the series in 2018 at Banc of California Stadium, running away 4-1 after the Lions had an apparent tying goal overturned for offside on a play that didn’t seem all that clear or obvious of an error to me. But admittedly I’m limited to only the replays they showed on my television set. Sacha Kljestan scored for Orlando to cut a 2-0 lead in half. That lead was built by Adama Diomande (28’) and Latif Blessing (32’). Orlando scored a second that was overturned and Diomande and Diego Rossi finished the Lions off. That initial meeting of the two teams was also the first game the Lions played under James O’Connor.
Last year, the Lions and LAFC drew 2-2 at Exploria Stadium on Sept. 7, 2019. Adrien Perez put the visitors on the board in the 12th minute, but Nani struck back just a minute later off a quick play on the ensuing kickoff. Benji Michel put the Lions ahead in the 20th minute and — just when it appeared Orlando might pull off the upset — Rossi scored in the 78th to tie things up.
While the Lions won Group A, LAFC finished second in Group F after drawing with Houston (3-3) and Portland (2-2) on either side of a 6-2 dismantling of the cross-town rival LA Galaxy. LAFC then got to the quarterfinals by running the Seattle Sounders off the field in Monday night’s late game, 4-1.
LAFC kept Seattle hemmed in for the game’s first 20 minutes or so and built a 2-0 lead by halftime. A second-half lull allowed the Sounders to creep back into it — only because the Los Angelinos skimmed a few shots just wide of the crossbar — but LAFC regained its footing and put two more quick goals in the net to kill off the game.
Diego Rossi’s seven goals — four against the Galaxy — lead LAFC, but virtually anyone on the team can score. LAFC has scored 15 goals in this tournament. The club has also conceded two or more times in three of its four games in the competition, but who cares when you can score like that?!
The Lions will need to deal with LAFC’s high pressure and counter press much better than Seattle did on Monday. It’s nice to have those two extra days of rest but Robin Jansson said during Thursday’s press conference that he did not expect the short rest to affect L.A.’s style and those sentiments were echoed by Angels on Parade manager Alicia Rodriguez on this week’s Mane Land PawedCast (link below).
Orlando’s back line and midfielders will need to pass accurately and quickly to avoid defensive half turnovers and break through LAFC’s first line of pressure. If the Lions can do that, they could create their own transition opportunities. If that happens, Orlando must be much more clinical than it was on Saturday against Montreal (10 shots, two on target, one goal).
Orlando City is without Dom Dwyer for this one, as the striker had to leave the bubble at Disney to get an MRI on his knee. Everyone else is training, including midfielder Junior Urso.
LAFC, meanwhile, is without league MVP Carlos Vela (did not participate) — not that he has been missed — and the team will be without Diomande, who picked up a knock early in the tournament.
Mandatory Match #Content
Here's your mandatory match content for tonight’s game:
- Our Intelligence Report provides more info about the hosts from Alicia Rodriguez of SB Nation’s LAFC blog, Angels on Parade.
- Alicia also joined us on this week’s PawedCast, giving a more thorough scouting report of LAFC. We also chime in with our key match-ups and score predictions.
- Our Dave Rohe wrote about five things that could affect Orlando City’s chances to win and advance to the semifinals.
Orlando City (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.
Defenders: Joao Moutinho, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, Ruan.
Defensive Midfielders: Uri Rosell, Sebas Mendez.
Attacking Midfielders: Nani, Mauricio Pereyra, Chris Mueller.
Forwards: Tesho Akindele.
Los Angeles FC (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Kenneth Vermeer.
Defenders: Diego Palacios, Eddie Segura, Dejan Jakovic, Tristan Blackmon.
Midfielders: Mark-Anthony Kaye, Eduard Atuesta, Latif Blessing.
Forwards: Diego Rossi, Bradley Wright-Phillips, Brian Rodriguez.
Ref: Joe Dickerson.
AR1: Jeremy Hanson.
AR2: Chris Wattam.
4th: Marcos DeOliveira.
VAR: Ismail Elfath.
AVAR: Kyle Atkins.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7:30 p.m. ET.
Venue: ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex — Orlando, FL.
TV: FS1, Fox Deportes, TUDN.
Radio: FM 96.9 The Game (English), Acción 97.9 FM and 810 AM (Spanish).
Streaming: FOXsports.com, FuboTV.
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.