Welcome to your match thread for a Sunday night match-up between Orlando City and the New England Revolution (7:30 p.m., FS1). This is the second of two scheduled meetings between the two MLS Eastern Conference rivals this season and will be the only match-up at Exploria Stadium.
For the first half of the MLS season, this looked to be an important match in the Eastern Conference — and possibly Supporters’ Shield — race. Now, the Revs have pulled comfortably ahead of the pack and the Lions are in a fierce battle to clinch a spot and an even tougher fight for a home postseason game with one of the tougher remaining schedules in the Eastern Conference.
Here’s what you need to know for the match.
The Lions are 2-5-5 in the all-time, regular-season series against New England and 3-6-5 in all competitions. Orlando is 2-0-4 at home vs. the Revs in the regular season but 2-1-4 overall after last year’s playoff loss.
These teams met just over a month ago at Gillette Stadium with Nani’s missed penalty a costly one in a 2-1 Revs home win. The Revolution jumped out to a 2-0 lead on a goal by Adam Buksa and an own goal off of Rodrigo Schlegel in which the referee was quite lenient with the big Designated Player’s treatment of the Orlando defender in the lead-up to Tajon Buchanan’s cross. Daryl Dike pulled one back for the Lions and won a penalty but Nani’s attempt to go down the middle was read at the last second by Matt Turner, who got his shoulder to it to preserve the lead. Orlando played well in that match but wasn’t clinical enough with its chances.
New England ended the Lions’ season in their last trip to Exploria Stadium, knocking Orlando City out of the MLS Cup playoffs in the conference semifinal round last Nov. 29 in a 3-1 win at Exploria Stadium. It was the first road win for either side in the all-time series. Carles Gil put the Revs up early from the penalty spot after a call against Uri Rosell and Gustavo Bou doubled the lead eight minutes later, finishing a play that started with a Nani turnover the captain believed should have been called a foul. Junior Urso pulled a goal back before the halftime whistle, but Mauricio Pereyra was sent off for a studs-up challenge on Matt Polster at the hour mark. Still, Nani had a chance to equalize from the spot but a poor penalty was saved by Matt Turner. Bou added a late insurance goal.
The last regular-season meeting at Exploria Stadium came back on Sept. 14, 2019, with the Lions overcoming a Tesho Akindele own goal and two deficits — the second by two goals — and rallying for a 3-3 draw. Akindele’s own goal opened the scoring 15 minutes in but Nani tied things up in the 22nd. Cristian Penilla and Bou scored goals five minutes apart just before halftime to seemingly give the visitors control. But Dom Dwyer pulled one back after the restart and Nani tied it up in the 54th minute.
The teams met on July 27, 2019 in the last meeting at Gillette Stadium and the Revs put the Lions on full blast, 4-1. Bou scored within the first two minutes of the game and the Revolution got more goals from Penilla, Gil and Diego Fagundez. Akindele pulled one back to avoid the shutout.
The teams met at Exploria Stadium in U.S. Open Cup action back on June 19, 2019, with the Lions scoring twice in a 30-minute extra time session and holding on for a 2-1 victory. Benji Michel and Akindele staked Orlando to a 2-0 lead before Justin Rennicks pulled one back off a Gil back-post cross. City was able to see the game out.
The last meeting of 2018 saw the Revs top a depleted Orlando side, 2-0 in Gillette Stadium on Oct. 13. Penilla and Fagundez provided the offense. In the first match-up of 2018, the teams combined for six goals in a 3-3 draw at Orlando City Stadium on Aug. 4. Orlando battled back from a 2-0 deficit after Juan Agudelo and Penilla found the net. Dwyer pulled one back and Amro Tarek scored his first MLS goal to level things. Teal Bunbury restored the Revolution’s lead, but Scott Sutter headed home a Yoshimar Yotún set piece delivery in the 93rd to rescue a point for the Lions.
City completed a 6-1 demolition of 10-man New England at home Sept. 27, 2017. Kaká scored a brace, with Dwyer getting his first home goal as an MLS Lion and Yotún and Antonio Nocerino each scoring their first ever goal with OCSC. Seb Hines also scored for Orlando and Lee Nguyen got the Revs’ only tally on a free kick. New England won at Gillette Stadium that year by a 4-0 count and it could have been worse. Kei Kamara netted a hat trick and Bunbury also scored, with Nguyen assisting on all four goals to tie an MLS record. Jose Aja was sent off after receiving two yellow cards.
Orlando beat the Revs at home in Jason Kreis’ debut as the Lions’ coach on July 31, 2016, as Kevin Molino scored a brace for City in a 3-1 win. Cyle Larin also scored to more than offset Kamara’s strike. The teams also drew 2-2 twice in 2016 (and three times in the first four meetings), starting with the weird affair in Orlando back on April 17, 2016, in which the teams reached a controversial 2-2 final score. It was leveled by a very late Nguyen penalty for a handball in the box on Servando Carrasco, who didn’t touch it with any part of his hand or arm. Kaká opened the scoring on a penalty and Molino scored in the 92nd minute. Between those two goals, Bunbury scored off a corner that should have been ruled a goal kick.
The second 2016 meeting reached the same final score on April 30 in New England. This time the Revs appeared the better side for much of the game, but the Lions fought back twice from one-goal deficits on goals by Molino and Carlos Rivas to nullify scores by Fagundez and Agudelo.
The teams met twice in 2015, with Orlando City rallying from a 2-0 deficit in the final 17 minutes to draw 2-2 (there’s that score again) at the Citrus Bowl in April. Larin and Aurelien Collin provided the goals for the Lions. The Sept. 5 rematch at Gillette Stadium didn’t go as well, with New England taking a 3-0 win. Fagundez, Agudelo and Chris Tierney scored for the Revolution.
Orlando City is unbeaten in four matches (2-0-2) since falling in New England in late September after Wednesday’s 1-1 home draw against CF Montreal. The Lions were dominant for much of the night but (stop me if you’ve heard this before) weren’t clinical enough in front of goal. Chris Mueller snapped a long goalless drought to put the Lions up just before halftime but a set piece failure early in the second half allowed Rudy Camacho to equalize. With the draw, Orlando slipped to 8-2-5 at home in 2021.
The Revs are a ridiculous 10-3-3 on the road this season — a nearly unheard of level of road success in MLS — so if you’re looking for reasons why they’ve run away with the conference title this year, look no further. It’s their road record. New England won 3-2 Wednesday at Audi Field in a trip to play D.C. United. The Revolution have won their last four away from Gillette Stadium.
The Revs can’t seem to put a single foot wrong this season. New England has breezed through the MLS schedule in 2021, currently sitting 11 points clear in the Supporters’ Shield “race” and an obscene 20 points ahead of second-place Nashville SC in the Eastern Conference. New England is 6-0-2 in its last eight games, dating back to a trip to New York City FC to play on the Pigeons’ fooseball table of a pitch on Aug. 28.
The Revs have the league’s best offense, scoring 62 goals in the team’s 31 games — 10 more goals than the next best MLS offense (Sporting Kansas City). Gil runs the show with his ability to both score goals and create for others. It’s easy to say stopping Gil is important, but much more difficult to do. And even if Gil has a quiet night, Bou and Buksa up top and Buchanan bombing forward are just as difficult to stop. The offense, coupled with Turner’s excellent goalkeeping, have protected a middle-of-the-road defense (statistically speaking), so even when teams find holes in the back line, Turner generally bails the team out.
If Orlando is going to get anything from the match, the Lions will have to go play shutdown defense, get a big night from goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, and find a way to play from ahead, rather than behind. Controlling the three New England Designated Players isn’t easy because it’s a bit like playing whack-a-mole. You shut down Bou, Gil sets up Buksa. Shut down Gil, Bou and Buksa find a way to combine. Stop Buksa, well brother...let me tell you how good Gil and Bou are. Never mind, they just scored on you.
Still, Orlando is in a precarious position after a recent four-game losing streak and needs to get a result at home, even against the league’s bully.
“We understand the importance of every match and at the same time are trying to correct the things we need to from the past games, and also visualize what we need to do to develop our game plan against New England,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said in his pre-match press conference Friday. “They’re a team that has had a very good season, but we see a good opportunity for us to keep remarking our progress in the last weeks and put out not just a solid performance as we did against Montréal, but a complete result which is what is important at this point in adding three points on our objective of qualifying the team for the playoffs in a good position.”
Just when the availability report started looking better for Orlando City, more names went on it this week. The Lions will be without Uri Rosell (concussion protocol), Adam Grinwis (lower body), and Raul Aguilera (lower body). Andrés Perea, Joao Moutinho, and Rio Hope-Gund are all listed as questionable with lower body injuries, although Pareja said Moutinho was in training late this week. New England isn’t just good, but also lucky. The Revs list no injuries on their availability report and will only be missing Matt Polster, who is suspended for yellow card accumulation.
Mandatory Match Content
- Our Intelligence Report provides more info on the Revs from Jake Catanese from SBNation’s New England blog, The Bent Musket.
- This week’s PawedCast includes our key match-ups and score predictions for the match.
Orlando City (4-4-2)
Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.
Defenders: Joao Moutinho, Rodrigo Schlegel, Antonio Carlos, Ruan.
Midfielders: Mauricio Pereyra, Sebas Mendez, Junior Urso, Chris Mueller.
Forwards: Nani, Daryl Dike.
Bench: Mason Stajduhar, Emmanuel Mas, Kyle Smith, Joey DeZart, Andres Perea, Benji Michel, Silvester van der Water, Tesho Akindele, Alexandre Pato.
New England Revolution (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Matt Turner.
Defenders: Christian Mafla, AJ DeLaGarza, Andrew Farrell, Jonathan Bell.
Midfielders: Arnor Traustason, Maciel, Wilfrid Kaptoum.
Forwards: Luis Caicedo, Emmanuel Boateng, Teal Bunbury.
Bench: Brad Knighton, Brandon Bye, Tajon Buchanan, Henry Kessler, DeJuan Jones, Tommy McNamara, Carles Gil, Gustavo Bou, Adam Buksa.
Ref: Chris Penso.
AR1: Nick Uranga.
AR2: Peter Manikowski.
4th: Silviu Petrescu.
VAR: Drew Fischer.
AVAR: Fabio Tovar.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7:30 p.m. ET.
Venue: Exploria Stadium — Orlando.
Radio: Real Radio 104.1 FM (English), Accion 97.9 (Spanish), 810 AM.
Streaming: The match can be streamed on FOX Sports GO.
Enjoy the match. Go City!