Welcome to your match thread for a Saturday night Tropic Thunder match-up between Orlando City (4-2-4, 16 points) and the team’s Publix Enemies, Inter Miami CF (2-6-2, 8 points), at Exploria Stadium. It’s the second match between the teams since the MLS is Back Tournament ended and the third ever meeting between these two Florida-based MLS teams. This 7:30 p.m. match (FOX 35 Plus) will break the tie between the teams, which have split their first two meetings in a pair of one-goal games.
Here’s what you need to know ahead of the match.
The first Tropic Thunder match went Orlando City’s way, with Nani scoring late to lift the Lions to a 2-1 win over the upstarts from South Florida in the opening match of the MLS is Back Tournament. Despite it being a tournament match, it was also a league game. Juan Agudelo opened the scoring for the Herons in the 47th minute, but Chris Mueller equalized in the 70th, setting the stage for Nani’s 97th-minute winner. That late goal propelled the Lions on a run to the tournament final and sparked its own t-shirt.
The second meeting opened Phase 1 of Major League Soccer’s return to regular-season play after MLS is Back. That one was an uncharacteristically sloppy match for the Lions, who fell 3-2 in Inter Miami’s first-ever home match. It was Miami’s first franchise MLS win after an 0-5-0 start. Orlando trailed by more than one goal for the first time all season in that match. Daryl Dike and Nani provided the offense for Orlando but Julian Carranza’s brace and Rodolfo Pizarro’s insurance goal were enough to lift the Herons.
Orlando enters unbeaten in four matches but has drawn the most recent pair of games — both 1-1 affairs last week against Nashville SC and Atlanta United. The Lions got their first regular work week since they were in the bubble, so it will be interesting to see how they come out for this match. Miami played on Wednesday, winning 2-1 at home against Atlanta, and extending a modest unbeaten streak to three games (1-0-2) on the heels of two straight scoreless draws.
Rodolfo Pizarro leads Miami with three goals this season and is tied for second on the team in assists (2). The Miami midfield got some help with the addition of Blaise Matuidi since the last meeting between the clubs, and he should be fresh after playing only 30 minutes on Wednesday. Inter Miami will be difficult to score on with a good back line and a top-notch MLS goalkeeper in Luis Robles.
“With the signing of Matuidi, they obviously will have a different man in the middle, somebody who has experience, and somebody who can create somewhat different sequences with the ball,” Oscar Pareja said in this week’s pre-match press conference. “But I see them in progress and I think we all are in that mode of getting better and better. It’s going to be a nice game, an interesting game for us — important game against a good rival.”
The Lions will be without Dom Dwyer (knee) and Joao Moutinho (groin) tonight. Out for Miami are midfielders George Acosta (knee) and David Norman Jr. (ankle) and defender Denso Ulysse left (lower leg).
Mandatory Match Content
Here’s your mandatory match #content for this one:
- Our Ben Miller discussed Orlando City’s need to be more clinical.
- Our Dave Rohe discussed Uri Rosell’s importance to the Lions.
- This week’s PawedCast includes our key match-ups and predictions for tonight.
Orlando City (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.
Defenders: Kyle Smith, Rodrigo Schlegel, Antonio Carlos, Ruan.
Defensive Midfielders: Junior Urso, Sebas Mendez.
Attacking Midfielders: Nani, Mauricio Pereyra, Chris Mueller.
Forward: Daryl Dike.
Bench: Brian Rowe, Alex De John, Kamal Miller, Robinho, Joey DeZart, David Loera, Andres Perea, Tesho Akindele, Benji Michel.
Inter Miami (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Luis Robles.
Defenders: Ben Sweat, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Andrés Reyes, Nicolas Figal.
Defensive Midfielders: Victor Ulloa, Blaise Matuidi.
Attacking Midfielders: Juan Agudelo, Rodolfo Pizarro, Lewis Morgan.
Forward: Robbie Robinson.
Bench: John McCarthy, Roman Torres, Mikey Ambrose, Dylan Nealis, Jay Chapman, Wil Trapp, Matias Pellegrini, Julian Carranza, Brek Shea.
Ref: Ismail Elfath.
AR1: Logan Brown.
AR2: Gjovalin Bori.
4th: Nima Saghafi.
VAR: Christina Unkel.
AVAR: Kyle Longville.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7:30 p.m. ET.
Venue: Exploria Stadium — Orlando.
TV: FOX 35 Plus (local only).
Radio: 96.9 FM The Game (English), Accion 97.9 FM and 810 AM (Spanish).
Streaming: The match can be streamed on ESPN+ although it will be blacked out locally.
Twitter: For rapid reaction and live updates, follow along at @TheManeLand, as well as Orlando City’s official Twitter feed (@OrlandoCitySC).
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Enjoy the game! Go City!