Welcome to your match thread for a Friday night Tropic Thunder match-up between Orlando City (5-1-3, 18 points) and the team’s Publix Enemies, Inter Miami CF (2-5-2, 8 points), at the nearly vowel-lessly named DRV PNK Stadium. It’s the first of three scheduled meetings this season and the only one set in South Florida. The Herons will visit Exploria Stadium on Aug. 4 and 27.
The Lions enter on a hot streak, having followed up the loss at New York Red Bulls before the international break by winning the last two matches by a combined 8-2 scoreline. That includes Tuesday night’s 5-0 drubbing of the San Jose Earthquakes. Miami lost its last match 1-0 at D.C. United after being reduced to nine men with Gregore and Ryan Shawcross each getting sent off.
Here’s what you need to know ahead of the match.
Orlando City is 2-2-0 record in this fledgling series (0-2-0 on the road) and every match has been decided by a single goal.
The last time the teams played, the Lions saw their 12-match unbeaten streak end on Oct. 24, 2020 in a 2-1 road loss in Ft. Lauderdale. Leandro Gonzalez Pirez’s header in the 89th minute was the difference after a Daryl Dike goal and an own goal off Robin Jansson saw the game tied up at halftime.
The teams last met in Orlando on Sept. 12 of 2020 with Orlando battling to a 2-1 win on Mauricio Pereyra’s goal. The Lions had taken the lead on an own goal by Andres Reyes. Former Lion Brek Shea tied things up in the 65th before Pereyra answered with a nice goal off the left post in the 69th.
The first meeting in Fort Lauderdale 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. 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.
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 Lions are 2-1-1 on the road in 2021 but one of those wins came in an empty Exploria Stadium against Toronto FC. Miami has struggled to an 0-3-1 start at home this season. The Herons have lost their last three straight matches without having scored a goal.
While all signs would point to this being a game Orlando City should win, MLS is never quite so simple. First of all, it’s a rivalry game and teams can often raise their level of play for a night against a team they really don’t like. One only has to look back at the first five years of the Orlando City-New York City FC series to find an example of this. Second, this is the Lions’ third match in a week, whereas Miami had the midweek off. And then there’s the usual MLS road trouble. Of the 27 teams in MLS, only five teams have a winning road record. Orlando is one of those but only by one game, which was, ironically, played at home. Six additional teams are at .500 on the road.
Oscar Pareja addressed the importance of this game in his press conference on Wednesday.
“With this quick turnaround, we have to adjust as we did with Toronto and focus on the game in Miami,” Pareja said. “It’s a derby. It’s a very important match for our franchise and our fans. The importance of the three points, but at the same time, we always know that this is a different game. We’re concentrating on the job and hopefully we can come up with a good result too.”
Orlando City will have to be sharp down the flanks to stop service and shots from Shea and Lewis Morgan and the Lions already have seen the danger that Julian Carranza can pose. Jay Chapman can also score, and you can’t count out the Higuain brothers entering a match against Miami, although Gonzalo did not dress in Miami’s last game. Orlando will need to be stout in central midfield, so Junior Urso, Andres Perea, and/or anyone else who plays in those roles will need to be sharp. In the attack, the Lions will need to find ways to bypass Blaise Matuidi.
The Lions will be without Alexandre Pato and Ruan (both with lower body injuries) although Pato was training on Thursday. Pedro Gallese and Sebas Mendez continue to be away on international duty in Copa America. The Herons will be without Gregore and Shawcross due to suspension. Miami will also be without Ian Fray, Sami Guediri, and Robbie Robinson, who are all listed as out. In addition, Pizarro is listed as questionable. Because Miami is even more opaque about injury news than Orlando City is, all are simply listed as having an “injury.”
Mandatory Match Content
Here’s your mandatory match content for this one:
- This week’s PawedCast includes our key match-ups and predictions for tonight.
- Our Dave Rohe gave his three keys to victory for Orlando City in this match.
Orlando City (4-4-2)
Goalkeeper: Brandon Austin.
Defenders: Kyle Smith, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, Michael Halliday.
Midfielders: Silvester van der Water, Junior Urso, Andres Perea, Mauricio Pereyra.
Forwards: Nani, Daryl Dike.
Bench: Mason Stajduhar, Rio Hope-Gund, Joey DeZart, Uri Rosell, Alexander Alvarado, Chris Mueller, Benji Michel, Tesho Akindele, Matheus Aias.
Inter Miami (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: John McCarthy.
Defenders: Christian Makoun, Leandro Gonzalez Pirez, Kelvin Leerdam, Nicolas Figal,
Defensive Midfielders: Blaise Matuidi, Victor Ulloa.
Attacking Midfielders: Brek Shea, Jay Chapman, Lewis Morgan.
Forward: Julian Carranza.
Bench: Dylan Castanheira, Drake Callender, Joevin Jones, Rodolfo Pizarro, Federico Higuain, Gonzalo Higuain, Josh Penn.
Ref: Allen Chapman.
AR1: Cory Richardson.
AR2: Gjovalin Bori.
4th: Sergii Demianchuk.
VAR: Daniel Radford.
AVAR: Jozef Batko.
How to Watch
Match Time: 8 p.m. ET.
Venue: Inter Miami CF Stadium — Fort Lauderdale.
TV: FS1, FOX Deportes.
Radio: FM 96.9 The Game (English), Accion 97.9 FM and 810 AM (Spanish).
Streaming: FOX Sports app, FOX Sports GO.
Enjoy the game! Go City!