Welcome to your match thread for a Sunday night match-up between Orlando City and D.C. United at Audi Field. This is the first of two scheduled MLS matches between the clubs this season, with the Lions (1-0-3, 6 points) hosting the Black & Red (2-3-0, 6 points) in the return fixture on Saturday, Oct. 2.
The teams did not meet in what was an odd 2020 season, so it’s been a while since the two sides have squared off.
The Lions are 4-6-1 against D.C. in the all-time league series since the club joined MLS, and 4-6-2 in all competitions. Orlando is just 1-4-0 at D.C. in league play and 1-4-1 away from home against United in all competitions. D.C. has gotten the best of Orlando in recent years, as United enters this match on a 3-0-1 streak in league play and 3-0-2 in all competitions dating back to City’s last win back in 2018.
D.C. United swept the season series in 2019, winning the most recent meeting at Audi Field 1-0 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, 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 entered the weekend as one of only three remaining unbeaten MLS teams, however, while the Lions have been difficult to beat in 2021, they’ve also struggled to win, tasting victory only once in the opening four matches and drawing thrice. While Orlando has been riding a four-match unbeaten run, D.C. snapped a three-match losing streak on Thursday night by beating Chicago at home, 1-0.
United are 2-0-0 at home in 2021, having beaten New York City FC in the season opener. Orlando City has only played away from home once, and is 0-0-1 after the 1-1 draw at Sporting Kansas City on April 23.
D.C. United has a new coach since the last time these teams met and Hernán Losada has a style quite different from former manager Ben Olsen. Losada’s D.C. united likes to press and win the ball back and then go on the attack. The Lions have experience playing against opponents like this, such as the New York Red Bulls, how New York City FC often plays, and the important MLS is Back match against LAFC last year. Orlando isn’t afraid of anyone’s pressure and will attempt to play through it, but the Lions must be decisive, confident with their next pass, and accurate to avoid giving away dangerous transition opportunities.
“It’s a good moment for us to go away and try to add more points in a very busy week for D.C. United,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said in his pre-match press conference Friday. “A big opportunity for us to go and find a good result. The boys have been working very well during the week and we’re very optimistic, and like always it’s going to be certainly a good match. I don’t have any doubt that it’s going to be a very competitive match.”
Orlando City’s official availability report is virtually useless these days, but as of Saturday it showed Alexandre Pato (knee surgery) and Uri Rosell (lower body) as out, with David Loera and Joao Moutinho listed as questionable with lower body injuries. Rosell was previously listed as questionable, so this is a downgrade of his status, although he likely shouldn’t have been listed as questionable to begin with. Pareja said Friday that everyone has the green light to play except for Pato and Rosell Ruan picked up a knock in last Saturday’s match but is OK to go. Pareja also said Moutinho is training like any other player in terms of not having any restrictions and after reviewing last week’s film, he said he’s pleased with the left back’s progress and that Joao now just needs to get his rhythm/timing back. Seems less “questionable” than “probable” to me, but whatever.
D.C. has an extensive injury list and it’s as worthless as Orlando City’s in terms of telling you anything. Every one of United’s injuries is listed as “undisclosed,” which is even worse than “lower body,” but as long as MLS has zero effs to give about informing its consumers, we’ll continue to deal with this nonsense. Steve Birnbaum, Bill Hamid, Erik Sorga, Yordy Reyna, Chris Odoi-Atsem, Nigel Robertha, and Donovan Pines were all listed as out. Obviously Hamid, Birnbaum, and Canouse are the key names there. Additionally, Jacob Greene, Griffin Yow, Russell Canouse, and Joseph Mora are all listed as questionable. Paul Arriola is getting close to a return and could be in the match day lineup. In fact, our counterparts at Black and Red United are predicting Arriola will start.
Mandatory Match #Content
- Our Intelligence Report tells us more about United from Ben Bromley of SB Nation’s D.C. blog, Black and Red United.
- This week’s PawedCast has our key match-ups and predictions for the game, plus Jason Anderson from Black and Red United previews both D.C. United and the Orlando Pride’s opening NWSL opponent, the Washington Spirit.
- Our Dave Rohe gives you his three keys to an Orlando City victory at D.C.
Orlando City (4-4-2)
Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.
Defenders: Joao Moutinho, Rodrigo Schlegel, Antonio Carlos, Kyle Smith.
Midfielders: Mauricio Pereyra, Sebas Mendez, Junior Urso, Benji Michel.
Forwards: Nani, Tesho Akindele.
Bench: Brandon Austin, Michael Halliday, Robin Jansson, Andres Perea, Joey DeZart, Alexander Alvarado, Chris Mueler, Silvester van der Water, Matheus Aias.
DC United (3-5-2)
Goalkeeper: Jon Kempin.
Defenders: Tony Alfaro, Frederic Brillant, Brendan Hines-Ike.
Midfielders/Wingbacks: Paul Arriola, Moses Nyeman, Junior Moreno, Drew Skundrich, Joseph Mora.
Forwards: Adrien Perez, Edison Flores.
Bench: Chris Seitz, Kevin Paredes, Russell Canouse, Ola Kamara, Felipe, Andy Najar, Julian Gressel, Yamil Asad, Griffin Yow.
Ref: Alex Chilowicz.
AR1: Andrew Bigelow.
AR2: Adam Garner.
4th: Matthew Franz.
VAR: Guido Gonzales Jr..
AVAR: Brian Dunn.
How to Watch
Match Time: 8 p.m. (ET).
Venue: Audi Field — Washington, D.C.
TV: FOX 35 PLUS (local only).
Streaming: The match can be streamed on ESPN+ (out of market only), 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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