Welcome to your match thread for a Saturday night match-up between Orlando City and D.C. United at Exploria Stadium. This is the second of two scheduled MLS matches between the clubs this season. The Lions (10-8-9, 39 points) and the Black & Red (12-11-4, 40 points) met previously back in May at Audi Field.
Here’s what you need to know.
The Lions are 5-6-1 against D.C. in the all-time league series since the club joined MLS, and 5-6-2 in all competitions. Orlando is 3-2-1 at home in the series. The most recent meeting came in D.C. on May 16 with the Lions winning 1-0 on a seventh-minute Mauricio Pereyra goal. That win snapped United’s 3-0-1 streak in the series in league play and 3-0-2 in all competitions dating back to City’s previously most recent win in 2017.
The teams did not meet in what was an odd 2020 season.
D.C. United swept the season series in 2019, winning 1-0 at Audi Field back on June 26, 2019. Wayne Rooney’s wondergoal from his own half of the pitch caught Brian Rowe napping and served as the only goal in that match. The Lions fell 2-1 at home on March 31, 2019, with set pieces ruining the night for Orlando. You might recall that controversy surrounded the winning goal, with then-coach James O’Connor visibly upset after the match. Steve Birnbaum scored the first on a set piece and Rooney scored the second on a free kick that he took from wherever the hell he wanted rather than where the foul occurred. Frederic Brillant bulldozed Rowe as the ball sailed into the net.
D.C. was 1-0-2 in three total meetings (two in league play) in 2018. The two teams met on opening day 2018 and the Lions posted a dramatic late 1-1 draw on Stefano Pinho’s 93rd-minute goal. Orlando went down to 10 men 41 minutes into the match when PC was sent off. The teams met in U.S. Open Cup action on June 20 of that year at the Maryland SoccerPlex and again drew 1-1, but the Lions advanced to the quarterfinals thanks to a 4-2 penalty shootout win. Luciano Acosta put the hosts ahead but Justin Meram equalized on a rainy night and that was it for the scoring until the shootout. United won that game at Audi Field on Aug. 12, 2018 by a 3-2 score. Cristian Higuita was sent off after video review with 40 minutes remaining. Two other controversial video reviews went D.C.’s way that night as well, and Orlando had a player pulled down while trying to break out in transition late in the game, only to see the play turn around for the winning goal.
Orlando swept the two league meetings in 2017, the teams split two lopsided games in 2016 — with each team winning at home — and the Black & Red went 2-1-0 in the first three meetings back in 2015.
Orlando City snapped a four-match losing streak on Wednesday night at Nashville SC by rallying from two goals down to draw 2-2. However, the team is still on a five-game winless skid and has slipped to seventh in the Eastern Conference, although the Lions are just one point behind third-place D.C. United.
Orlando City is 7-2-4 at home in 2021, losing its most recent outing at Exploria Stadium to Montreal 4-2 on Sept. 15. United won its last two matches but on the road the club is 0-3-1 in its last four away from Audi Field.
Hernán Losada likes his team to press, create chaos, win the ball back, and then go on the attack. D.C. has been effective at this by scoring the second-most goals in MLS this season. The Lions will have to be well-organized, prepared with their next pass in mind, quick to move the ball, and accurate in their passing to be able to break lines and play through D.C. Orlando will also need to be mindful of unconventional players jumping up into the attack, even from the back line. This can cause overloads and confuse defenders, and the Lions aren’t exactly in the best run of form in that department after giving up two or more goals in the last six consecutive games.
Ola Kamara paces the D.C. attack with an incredible 17 goals and five assists in 21 games. Julian Gressel (11 assists) is the most dangerous setup man. Outside of Kamara, D.C.’s goal scoring has been spread fairly evenly.
“The expectations are always the same — trying to add three points that we’re looking for and that we need,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said. “We already know enough of this rival in [D.C. United] and they know us as well. I think the opportunity now to be in front of our fans is fantastic too after this long period of going away. We’re very optimistic.”
Orlando City will be without Rodrigo Schlegel (yellow card suspension), as well as Alexandre Pato and Joey DeZart (lower body injuries). Chris Mueller and Uri Rosell remain questionable. United will be without Brendan Hines-Ike (hip), Adrien Perez (foot), and Ramón Abila (groin), while Drew Skundrich (hamstring) and Chris Odoi-Atsem (quad) are listed as questionable.
Mandatory Match Content
- Our Intelligence Report tells us more about United from Ben Bromley of SBNation’s D.C. blog, Black and Red United.
- This week’s PawedCast has our key match-ups and predictions for the game.
Orlando City (4-4-2)
Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.
Defenders: Joao Moutinho, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, Ruan.
Midfielders: Mauricio Pereyra, Sebas Mendez, Junior Urso, Benji Michel.
Forwards: Nani, Daryl Dike.
Bench: Mason Stajduhar, Emmanuel Mas, Kyle Smith, Joey DeZart, Andres Perea, Alexander Alvarado, Chris Mueller, Silvester van der Water, Tesho Akindele.
DC United (3-4-3)
Goalkeeper: Bill Hamid.
Defenders: Donovan Pines, Steve Birnbaum, Jose Alfaro.
Midfielders: Andy Najar, Junior Moreno, Russell Canouse, Julian Gressel.
Forwards: Yordy Reyna, Ola Kamara, Paul Arriola.
Bench: Jon Kempin, Chris Odoi-Atsem, Frederic Brillant, Yamil Asad, Edison Flores, Moses Nyeman, Felipe, Joseph Mora, Nigel Robertha.
Ref: Guido Gonzales Jr.
AR1: Claudiu Badea.
AR2: Brian Dunn.
4th: Silviu Petrescu.
VAR: Alan Kelly.
AVAR: Kyle Longville.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7:30 p.m. (ET).
Venue: Exploria Stadium — Orlando.
TV: FOX 35 PLUS (local only).
Streaming: The match can be streamed on ESPN+ (out of market only) and on the LionNation app.
Radio: 104.1 FM Real Radio (English), Acción 97.9 FM, 810 AM (Spanish).
Enjoy the match. Go City!
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