Welcome to your match thread for a Saturday night match-up between Orlando City (0W-OL-2D, 2 points) and FC Cincinnati (0-1-1, 1 point) at Exploria Stadium. It’s the first meeting between the teams since 2019, the first of three scheduled match-ups this season, and the only one slated for Exploria Stadium. The two sides will meet twice in Cincinnati’s brand new TQL Stadium — on Aug. 7 and Oct. 16.
Orlando City leads the all-time series, 1-0-1. Due to a quirk of the pandemic scheduling in 2020, the most recent meeting was a 1-1 draw at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati on Sept. 29, 2019. Benji Michel’s goal in stoppage time avoided what would have been an embarrassing road loss to a dreadful FCC side after Allan Cruz had given the hosts a lead. The loss officially eliminated Orlando City from playoff contention that year, but realistically the Lions had been out of it for a while.
The last meeting in Orlando, and the first ever between the two sides, took place on May 19, 2019, when the Lions pummeled the expansion side, 5-1. Both Nani and Tesho Akindele bagged braces in the match and Dom Dwyer added a goal as well.
The Lions are 0-0-2 on the season and 0-0-1 at home, failing to score in the season-opening scoreless draw against Atlanta United. Orlando has just one goal this season, but will be getting back playmaking midfielder Mauricio Pereyra, who began the campaign serving a two-match suspension. The Lions are coming off a 1-1 draw at Sporting Kansas City last Friday in a match that saw them have two goals overturned (correctly) due to offside calls. The hosts also had a goal called back (again, correctly) for offside after video review.
FC Cincinnati is 0-1-1 on the road this season and has yet to play at home while the team’s new stadium is finished. FCC started the season with two early goals against Nashville SC but then saw Nashville turn the game around and was lucky to escape with a 2-2 draw. Cincy then traveled to Yankee Stadium and absorbed a 5-0 beating at the hands of New York City FC, in what was a set piece goal-a-thon for NYCFC.
Cincinnati has been out-shot 44-29 through two matches and 18-12 on goal. I look for FCC manager Jaap Stam to lock down his defense this week in an effort to stem the tide. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a bunker mentality with FCC looking to counter and get a goal through new Designated Player Brenner. FC Cincinnati has been terrible on set pieces so far this season so I would also expect a renewed effort from the visitors on that front and that’s not been a strength of Orlando so far in 2021 anyway.
City will be favored to win but you can never count out a desperate team and Cincinnati is by far the more desperate at this juncture. The Lions will likely have more of the ball but they’ll need to be patient and move quickly and creatively together in order to break down Cincinnati, but even more importantly, to avoid the kinds of turnovers that will allow Cincy to get out and run in transition. Brenner is a dynamic player who doesn’t need much of an opening to get a shot away, so taking care of the ball will be paramount in order to avoid giving up a smash-and-grab.
Orlando’s injury report is nothing but lower body injuries, because the reporting system continues to be a worthless joke. David Loera is out, while Joao Moutinho, Robin Jansson, Uri Rosell, and Alexandre Pato are all listed as questionable. Moutinho was a surprise in the 18 (or what passes as the 18 these days) last week and I’d look for him to again be on the bench at the start of this game. Jansson is the next closest to being ready from practice reports, so it’ll be interesting to see if he makes the game day roster.
Cincinnati has a number of guys on the availability report. Franco Kovacevic (hamstring), Maikel van der Werff (sports hernia), and Gustavo Vallecilla (pending visa) were all listed as out as of Friday, with Luciano Acosta (arm) and starting goalkeeper Przemyslaw Tyton (hip flexor) listed as questionable. Hmmm...I guess it is possible to be more specific than “lower body” or “upper body” after all.
Mandatory Match #Content
- Our Intelligence Report provides more info about FC Cincinnati from Bryan Weigel of Cincinnati Soccer Talk.
- This week’s PawedCast features our key match-ups and score predictions for Sunday’s match, plus some background from Cincy Soccer Talk’s Brad Weigel (not to be confused with Bryan).
- Our Dave Rohe discusses three keys to an Orlando win in this match-up.
Orlando City (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.
Defenders: Kyle Smith, Rodrigo Schlegel, Antonio Carlos, Ruan.
Midfielders: Mauricio Pereyra, Sebas Mendez, Junior Urso.
Forwards: Nani, Tesho Akindele, Chris Mueller.
Bench: Brandon Austin, Joao Moutinho, Robin Jansson, Joey DeZart, Andres Perea, Alexander Alvarado, Silvester van der Water, Benji Michel, Matheus Aias.
FC Cincinnati (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Przemysław Tyton.
Defenders: Ronald Matarrita, Tom Pettersson, Nick Hagglund, Joe Gyau.
Midfielders: Kamohelo Mokotjo, Isaac Atanga, Yuya Kubo.
Forwards: Jürgen Locadia, Brenner, Alvaro Barreal.
Bench: Cody Cropper, Edgar Castillo, Allan Cruz, Zico Bailey, Brandon Vazquez, Gustavo Vallecilla, Caleb Stanko, Haris Medunjanin, Calvin Harris.
Ref: Drew Fischer.
AR1: Logan Brown.
AR2: Brian Poeschel.
4th: Marcos de Oliveira.
VAR: Jorge Gonzalez.
AVAR: Kyle Longville.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7:30 p.m. ET.
Venue: Exploria Stadium — Orlando.
TV: FOX 35 PLUS (local only).
Radio: 104.1 FM Real Radio (English), Accion 97.9 FM & 810 AM (Spanish).
Streaming: The match can be streamed on ESPN+ (out of market) and on the LionNation app.
Enjoy the match. Go City!
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