Welcome to your match thread for a Wednesday night match-up between Orlando City (8-4-6, 30 points) and Nashville SC (7-2-10, 31 points) at Nissan Stadium. It’s the first of three scheduled meetings between the two southeastern sides this season and the first of two in Nashville. The Lions will return to Nissan Stadium on Sept. 29 and Nashville SC will make the return trip to Exploria Stadium on Halloween.
The Lions are looking up at third-place Nashville in the standings in a proverbial six-point game. Orlando City was idle in league play last week — falling 1-0 in the Leagues Cup to Santos Laguna — while Nashville was hanging a 5-2 defeat on D.C. United. Orlando has a game in hand on Nashville but it is important to take something from this game.
The Lions are 1-1-1 in the all-time series and 0-0-1 in Nashville. Oddly, the team scoring first has yet to win in the series.
The last meeting took place on Decision Day of last year, with Orlando melting down late, allowing two goals from the 88th minute on, and falling 3-2 at home on Nov. 8, 2020. Daryl Dike and Nani goals sandwiched a strike by Daniel Lovitz, giving the Lions a lead until late. Headers by Hany Mukhtar (in the 88th minute) and Jhonder Cadiz (in the 93rd minute) turned the game on its head late and gave the Lions their only home loss of the season.
The last time the teams met in Nissan Stadium, they played to a 1-1 draw on Sept. 2, 2020. Benji Michel put the Lions ahead with a stunner of a goal, but Randall Leal knotted things up and that’s the way the match ended.
That 1-1 draw came a week after a 3-1 Orlando City win Aug. 26 at Exploria Stadium. Dave Romney had opened the scoring for Nashville with a header off a free kick but Orlando scored the last three. Dike took a star turn for Orlando City, scoring a brace. Chris Mueller also scored for the Lions.
The Lions are unbeaten in their last three league games (1-0-2) but they’re also winless in their last three matches in all competitions (0-1-2) following Thursday’s loss in the Leagues Cup. Nashville won its last match after falling to Inter Miami on the road.
Nashville is a stubborn opponent in its own building, posting an impressive 7-0-5 record at Nissan Stadium this season. Nashville’s last home loss came on Nov. 4 of last season against FC Dallas. That record in Music City won’t be music to the ears of the Lions, who are just 3-3-3 in away games in 2021 and one of those three wins came against “home team” Toronto FC in Exploria Stadium.
This year’s Nashville SC team has continued to play excellent defense, with the second-fewest goals allowed (19) in the Eastern Conference and fourth-fewest conceded in all of MLS. Good scoring chances will be few and far between for a Lions team that is coming off a shutout loss and hasn’t scored more than once in any of its last three matches.
But last year’s expansion side has added some offense in 2021 after struggling to score goals at times in 2020. Only two teams in the east and four teams in MLS have scored more than Nashville’s 31 goals. Lion killer C.J. Sapong and Mukhtar each have eight goals on the season. Mukhtar and Leal each have six assists on the season. So, in short, Mukhtar has been to Nashville what Nani has been to Orlando City in 2021.
To get anything out of this match, the Lions must be stout defensively but also take their few chances when they come — something they’ve struggled with in recent matches.
“Nashville are coming in on a strong run from from the last game, but (there’s) no doubt that this is going to be a good rival that we want to beat that this point in our season,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said. “Going to Nashville and getting a good result there will be very, very important. They changed their model, their formation, I think six or seven games ago. They have had some strong performances at home. It’s not a secret that their forwards are finding the net. Their wingbacks are helping them with the volume going forward. The best way to prevent the goals and to avoid the other rival scoring on you is just to be sharp in the performance. Defensively, obviously we have to get back to our best.”
The most recent availability report for Orlando City lists Pedro Gallese, Nani, and Mauricio Pereyra all as questionable with lower body injuries. The additions of Nani and Pereyra to that list is concerning. Alexandre Pato has been downgraded to “out” with his lower body injury, joining Sebas Mendez and Uri Rosell as unavailable. There is no mention of Dike, who Orlando City has been careful with since his return from the Gold Cup. Nashville seems to be completely injury free at the moment.
Mandatory Match Content
- Our Intelligence Report provides more information on Nashville SC from that team’s TV analyst (and former USL Lion) Jamie Watson.
- This week’s PawedCast includes our key match-ups and predictions for tonight’s game.
Orlando City (4-4-2)
Goalkeeper: Mason Stajduhar.
Defenders: Joao Moutinho, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, Kyle Smith.
Midfielders: Mauricio Pereyra, Junior Urso, Joey DeZart, Silvester van der Water.
Forwards: Benji Michel, Tesho Akindele.
Bench: Adam Grinwis, Ruan, Emmanuel Mas, Rodrigo Schlegel, Rio Hope-Gund, Raul Aguilera, David Loera, Alexander Alvarado, Chris Mueller.
Nashville SC (3-5-2)
Goalkeeper: Joe Willis.
Defenders: Dave Romney, Walker Zimmerman, Jack Maher.
Wingbacks/Midfielders: Daniel Lovitz, Tah Anunga, Anibal Godoy, Randall Leal, Alistair Johnston.
Forwards: C.J. Sapong, Hany Mukhtar.
Bench: Bryan Meredith, Jalil Anibaba, Taylor Washington, Luke Haakenson, Dax McCarty, Alex Muyl, Abu Danladi, Ake Arnaud Loba, Daniel Rios.
Ref: Fotis Bazakos.
AR1: Corey Parker.
AR2: Jeffrey Swartzel.
4th: Alyssa Nichols.
VAR: Guido Gonzales Jr.
AVAR: Jeff Muschik.
How to Watch
Match Time: 8:30 p.m. ET.
Venue: Nissan Stadium — Nashville, TN.
TV: FOX 35 Plus (local only).
Radio: FM 96.9 The Game (English) and Acción 97.9 FM, 810 AM (Spanish).
Streaming: The match can be streamed on ESPN+ although it will be blacked out locally as there is still not a local streaming agreement in place. It can also be streamed on the LionNation app.
Twitter: For rapid reaction and live updates, follow along at @TheManeLand, as well as Orlando City’s official Twitter feed (@OrlandoCitySC).
Enjoy the game. Go City!
The Mane Land has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though The Mane Land and SB Nation may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our guiding principles.