Welcome to your match thread for tonight’s match-up between Orlando City (2-2-2, 8 points) and Nashville SC (1-3-1, 4 points) at Exploria Stadium. It’s the Lions’ first home match since the season opener on Feb. 29 [/insert Titanic “It’s been 84 years” gif]. This 7:30 p.m. match (FOX 35 Plus) will be the first ever meeting between these two teams.
Here’s what you need to know ahead of the match.
There isn’t any. These teams have never met. But the Lions do have some history with Nashville winger David Accam. Oh yes, there is history there, and it hasn’t been pleasant history. Let’s move on.
The Lions have lost their last two competitive matches. After a strong showing against the Portland Timbers in the MLS is Back Tournament final, which came up just a bit short, the Lions resumed regular-season play Saturday in Miami, falling behind by multiple goals for the first time in the Oscar Pareja era and ultimately dropping the Tropic Thunder road match to Inter WhereverTheyPlay, 3-2. Orlando was better at defending set pieces but worse in defending normal play, gifting the South Florida upstarts an early lead off a turnover, failing to deal with a basic cross on the second, and then just taking a nice nap on the third. It’s hard for any team to win when conceding thrice.
However, the Lions may have found something in getting Daryl Dike his first start. Pareja has been keeping an eye on the rookie, getting him some minutes during the tournament, and deeming him ready for his first MLS starting spot on Saturday. Dike responded with a tenacious goal and made a smart play in the buildup to the second goal that pulled the Lions back in it. A stupid crossbar denied Orlando a road point in stoppage time and I’ll never forgive it. Burn it down I say.
Getting back on track, Nashville missed the MLS is Back Tournament due to positive COVID-19 tests. The first-year team returned to regular-season action with a pair of matches against FC Dallas — the other team that withdrew from the tournament — and feasted, taking four out of six possible points from Pareja’s old club. But Nashville returned to earth this past weekend by falling 2-0 at Atlanta.
Nashville has a lot of talented pieces, but sometimes the pieces need time to properly mix together. Individually, there’s quite a bit of quality — Accam, Dax McCarty, Walker Zimmerman, Daniel Lovitz, Abu Danladi, Dominique Badji, Designated Players Hani Mukhtar and Randall Leal, and newly acquired Alex Muyl, to put a name to some of it.
“Playing at home for us is very important, whether our fans can be there or not with us,” Pareja said on Monday. “ Best feeling that I can have is just to provide to the fans the three points in our home. And we will fight for that. This is very important. We’re going to play our game against Nashville with the hope that we do we do our best and get the result.”
Orlando continues to be without forward Dom Dwyer and it will be an unknown amount of time before Matheus Aias is available, owing to international paperwork, travel, and quarantine protocol. Per mlssoccer.com, Nashville SC will be without the services of defenders Jimmy Medranda (hip) and Ken Tribbett (calf).
Mandatory Match Content
- Our Intelligence Report provides more background on Nashville SC from Ben Wright of Broadway Sports.
- This week’s PawedCast includes our key match-ups and predictions for tonight’s game, as well as Saturday’s match at Atlanta United.
Orlando City (4-4-2)
Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.
Defenders: Joao Moutinho, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, Ruan.
Midfielders: Chris Mueller, Sebas Mendez, Uri Rosell, Mauricio Pereyra,
Forwards: Nani, Daryl Dike.
Bench: Brian Rowe, Kyle Smith, Alex De John, Kamal Miller, Junior Urso, Robinho, Jordan Bender, Andres Perea, Benji Michel.
Nashville SC (4-4-2 )
Goalkeeper: Joe Willis.
Defenders: Daniel Lovitz, Dave Romney, Walker Zimmerman, Jalil Anibaba.
Midfielders: Randall Leal, Anibal Godoy, Dax McCarty, Hany Mukhtar.
Forwards: Daniel Rios, Abu Danladi.
Bench: Elliot Panicco, Brayan Beckeles, Alex Muyl, Derrick Jones, Tah Anunga, Matt LaGrassa, Alistair Johnston, David Accam, Dominique Badji.
Ref: Marcos de Oliveira.
AR1: Logan Brown.
AR2: Adam Garner.
4th: Tori Penso.
VAR: Chris Penso.
AVAR: Kyle Longville.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7:30 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 most likely be blacked out locally.
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Enjoy the game! Go City!