Welcome to your match thread and preview for a Sunday evening match-up between Orlando City and New York City FC at Yankee Stadium (6 p.m., FOX 35 Plus). This will be the second of the two scheduled meetings between the Lions (7-3-4, 25 points) and Pigeons (6-5-2, 20 points) this season.
These two teams know each other well, having met three times last year (including that playoff game), 17 times total in the regular season, and 19 times overall in competitive play, plus a few preseason matches as well.
The Lions are 6-5-6 in 17 meetings with NYCFC in the all-time series in MLS play and 6-5-8 including playoff and U.S. Open Cup play (remember, games that go to penalty shootouts in knockout competition officially count as draws), so the series between the two 2015 expansion sides has proven to be a competitive one, even though the teams’ overall fortunes have been quite different. Orlando is 2-3-2 on the road in this series in MLS play.
Orlando City is on a modest five-game unbeaten streak in the series (1-0-4) in all competitions, with two of those draws coming in knockout games and going to penalties, where Orlando came out on top. But, because of those draws, another way to look at it is that Orlando City has won only once in the last 12 competitive meetings and has failed to win the last three (0-0-3).
The teams last met in Orlando on May 8 and drew 1-1. Nani smashed a golazo in the second half to put the Lions on top but Joao Moutinho fouled Ismael Tajouri-Shradi in the box and Valentin Castellanos scored from the spot to equalize.
The last meeting of the 2020 season happened in the postseason and things got weird. Orlando City ultimately prevailed in penalties after a 1-1 postseason draw on Nov. 21, 2020. Nani put Orlando ahead from the penalty spot, only to see Maxime Chanot equalize on a set piece. Extra time couldn’t settle it, so to penalties we went and the Lions advanced thanks to a save by defender Rodrigo Schlegel after Pedro Gallese was sent off with a second yellow for coming off his line early. Benji Michel’s blast was the difference in the shootout. (Seriously, just click the above link in this paragraph and relive that madness.)
The Lions and Pigeons wrapped last year’s season series on Oct. 14, 2020 at Exploria Stadium, playing to a 1-1 draw. Chris Mueller opened the scoring but Keaton Parks equalized just before halftime. The first meeting of 2020 also took place in Central Florida in the MLS is Back Tournament on July 14, when Mueller’s brace and a late Tesho Akindele insurance goal led Orlando to a 3-1 win. Jesus Medina scored for NYCFC. That win snapped Orlando City’s 0-4-3 streak in the previous seven competitive meetings with the Pigeons. The last match in that winless streak against NYCFC was a 1-1 draw with the Lions then dispatching NYCFC from the U.S. Open Cup in a penalty shootout on July 10, 2019. That night has been immortalized for the running of The Wall and Adam Grinwis’ heroics in goal.
The teams played to yet another 1-1 draw on April 27, 2019 at Yankee Stadium. Nani scored the opener in the 18th minute but it was canceled out by Heber in the 51st minute. A 2-2 opening day draw in 2019 snapped the Pigeons’ four-game series win streak, in which they’d outscored the Lions 10-0 in that span. New York City grabbed a 2-0 lead on goals by Ebenezer Ofori and Alexander Ring, despite Orlando playing well in the game. The Lions, as they sometimes do, roared back on goals by Mueller and Akindele and may have had a third from the spot when Chanot handled the ball in the box but no penalty was given.
The Lions had lost four straight games in the series prior to 2019’s trio of draws. Orlando’s last victory in the series prior to that came on opening day of 2017, when Cyle Larin christened the stadium now known as Exploria with the only goal in a 1-0 OCSC win. Orlando was 3-1-2 in 2015 and 2016 in the first six meetings with NYCFC, and 4-1-2 after the opening day win in 2017.
Orlando enters the match on the heels of Thursday’s 2-1 home win over the Philadelphia Union. Goals from Michel and Andres Perea staked the Lions to a two-goal lead. Kacper Przybylko pulled one back but Orlando held on. That win snapped a three-match winless skid (0-2-1) but Orlando has failed to win in its last two games on the road (0-1-1). Orlando City is 3-2-2 overall in road games in 2021 but one of those wins came at Exploria Stadium in a road match in name only against Toronto FC.
New York City FC is 4-2-1 at home this year but haven’t played at Yankee Stadium since May 15. The Pigeons are unbeaten in just two matches (1-0-1) at Yankee Stadium in 2021 but have played five home matches at Red Bull Arena, going 3-2-0 in those games. However, they have won their last three straight at home, even if that home belongs to the New York Red Bulls. NYCFC is coming off a 1-0 win over Montreal on Wednesday, so in addition to not traveling, tonight’s hosts will have had one more day of rest than Orlando.
Look for New York City FC to try to keep the ball and build attacks, with Maxi Moralez providing the most danger in both the buildup and the finish. Castellanos, Tajouri-Shradi, and Medina are also attacking players the Lions must track carefully. At the back end, Alfredo Morales and Parks are difficult to play through and the ball is generally much more difficult to control in the tight spaces of the Yankee Stadium pitch than in most places, so this will likely look a lot sloppier than usual, especially with both teams on short rest.
“It’s another important match for us against a team that we have had good derbies with in the last year and a half,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said. “Obviously, just as Philadelphia, they have a very defined model of their game that we know. Surely they know us too, so it will be important that we can concentrate again with the same energy, the same desire, and execute the game plan that we have. [It’s important] to be optimistic to bring home three points that will help us to keep escalating in the standings and keep aiming for the first objective, which is qualifying for the playoffs.”
Orlando City will be missing strikers Daryl Dike and Tesho Akindele to Gold Cup duty. Akindele was called up as an injury replacement for Canada late in the week. Additionally, Mauricio Pereyra is suspended for yellow card accumulation, so the Lions will be missing his quality on the ball in traffic on the smaller Yankee Stadium pitch. Sebas Méndez, Alexandre Pato, Ruan, and Junior Urso are all listed as questionable with lower body injuries. Robin Jansson is not on the injury report despite that wicked shot he took to the nose on Thursday.
New York City FC will be without Heber and Talles Magno with unspecified injury per the game notes for this match, while Sean Johnson and James Sands are away on Gold Cup duty.
Mandatory Match Content
- Our Intelligence Report gives some background on New York City FC from Christian Smith of SB Nation’s Hudson River Blue.
- This week’s PawedCast includes our key match-ups and score predictions for the New York City FC game.
Orlando City (4-4-2)
Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.
Defenders: Emmanuel Mas, Rodrigo Schlegel, Antonio Carlos, Kyle Smith.
Midfielders: Andres Perea, Joey DeZart, Uri Rosell, Alexander Alvarado.
Forwards: Benji Michel, Silvester van der Water.
Bench: Brandon Austin, Mason Stajduhar, Michael Halliday, Ruan, Joao Moutinho, Rio Hope-Gund, Robin Jansson, David Loera.
New York City FC (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Luis Barraza.
Defenders: Malte Amundsen, Alex Callens, Maxime Chanot, Anton Tinnerholm.
Defensive Midfielders: Alfredo Morales, Keaton Parks.
Attacking Midfielders: Jesus Medina, Maxi Moralez, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi.
Forward: Valentin Castellanos.
Bench: Cody Mizell, Tayvon Gray, Sebastien Ibeagha, Tony Rocha, Andres Jasson, Gudmundur Thorarinsson, Santiago Rodriguez, Nicolas Acevedo, Thiago.
Ref: Rosendo Mendoza.
AR1: Peter Balciunas.
AR2: Ian McKay.
4th: Tori Penso.
VAR: Jorge Gonzalez.
AVAR: Eric Weisbrod.
How to Watch
Match Time: 6 p.m. ET.
Venue: Yankee Stadium — The Bronx, NY.
TV: FOX 35 Plus (local only).
Radio: FM 96.9 The Game (English), Accion 97.9 FM and 810 AM (Spanish).
Streaming: The match can be streamed on ESPN+ (out of market only) and locally on the LionNation app.
Enjoy the match. Go City!
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