Welcome to your match thread for a Sunday afternoon match-up between Orlando City SC (10-6-8, 38 points) and the Philadelphia Union (8-7-8, 32 points) at Subaru Park (4 p.m., ESPN, ESPN Deportes). This is the second and final meeting between the Eastern Conference rivals in 2021.
Here’s what you need to know ahead of the match.
Orlando City is 4-4-5 in the 13 MLS meetings with the Union since the club joined Major League Soccer in 2015, and 4-5-5 in all competitions. The Lions are 2-3-1 in the series on the road in league games and 2-4-1 away in all competitions. The teams last met on July 22 when the Union visited Exploria Stadium. The Lions got goals by Benji Michel and Andres Perea on the team’s only two shots on target and won 2-1. Kacper Przybylko, who has feasted on Orlando since arriving in Philadelphia, pulled one back for the visitors but Orlando hung on.
The teams met last season in the group stage of the MLS is Back Tournament in 2020 with the game ending in a 1-1 draw after a Mauricio Pereyra goal canceled out a strike by Ilsinho. That draw allowed the Lions to win Group A in the competition.
The teams met in what was then known as Talen Energy Stadium on July 7, 2019, with the Lions and Union drawing 2-2. Dom Dwyer and Santiago Patino brought Orlando back from 1-0 down but Przybylko poached a goal in the 90th to capture a share of the points for the Union. That match was postponed by MLS on the night it was set to take place — a move that Orlando City fought against — and instead was played the next day.
The two teams had met just a few days earlier on July 3, ending in Orlando’s 3-1 home loss against the Union. Chris Mueller and Przybylko swapped goals in the first half before Robin Jansson was sent off moments before the break. Afterwards, the 10-men Lions gave up two more goals — one to Przybylko and the other to Fafa Picault — and then went down another man with Sacha Kljestan seeing red.
The teams drew 2-2 in a wild finish on Sept. 1, 2018 in Orlando. Just when it looked like Picault had lifted the Union to victory with a strike in the 88th minute, Scott Sutter equalized in stoppage time to salvage a point for the Lions. Dwyer and Cory Burke also scored in that match.
The Lions and Union played twice in Philly in 2018, including a USOC match July 18, 2018, won by Philadelphia, 1-0 on a goal by Alejandro Bedoya. The Lions prevailed over the Union in Philadelphia on April 13, 2018 by a 2-0 score. Dwyer and Mueller provided the offense.
The teams split their two matches in 2017, with the home side prevailing both times. The Lions won 2-1 at Orlando City Stadium on March 18 as part of the team’s hot start. Cyle Larin scored a brace to lead the Lions. C.J. Sapong scored for Philadelphia. The rematch was an ugly 6-1 Philadelphia win in the season finale for both teams. Dwyer gave Orlando its only goal, while Earl Edwards Jr. (in his first MLS start) was beaten twice each by Ilsinho, Picault, and Sapong.
The Lions were 1-1-1 against Philadelphia in 2016. The team’s first road victory in the series came on Oct. 16, 2016, as the Lions roared, 2-0. Carlos Rivas and Julio Baptista scored. The teams played to a 2-2 draw on May 25 in Orlando, as Ken Tribbett made the Lions pay for Kaká’s missed penalty in the first half by scoring an equalizing goal off a corner kick. Kevin Molino and Larin scored for Orlando City, and Tranquillo Barnetta also scored for the Union. Barnetta’s free kick in the 89th minute gave Philly a 2-1 win on March 8 of 2016, with Adrian Winter scoring for the Lions on the road.
Orlando City enters the match having lost its last two games after a sloppy and frustrating 4-2 home loss to CF Montreal on Wednesday. Jansson and Ruan each scored their first MLS goal in that match to bring the 10-man Lions back from a 2-0 hole after Nani had been sent off for a second yellow card. Montreal then added two more goals and Andres Perea got a straight red as Orlando finished with nine men.
The Union are coming off a 2-0 home loss to Club América in the Concacaf Champions League on Wednesday night. Philadelphia is 0-2-1 in its last three MLS games and on a skid of 0-4-1 in all competitions. So, it’s fair to say that both teams need this game, especially Philadelphia, which has drifted below the playoff line.
Orlando City will try to stop leaking goals after giving up nine in the last three matches. The Lions scored two of those on themselves, but have been particularly poor in marking on set pieces and have kickstarted several opposition transition opportunities with wayward passes in the attacking half. Some of those passes were telegraphed, some were poorly weighted, and others were just off target, so there isn’t just one thing happening, but all are correctable. For a team that tends to back pass almost to a fault, it’s a worrying trend to see the team get punished for trying to go forward.
Obviously, Przybylko is the man to watch up top for Philadelphia. He can make things happen with very little space with his powerful shot, and he absolutely kills the Lions. His six goals lead the Union, with Burke not far behind, with four goals. Sergio Santos, who is trying to recover from a knock in time for this match, is also dangerous, with four strikes so far in 2021. Jamiro Monteiro is Philly’s best set-up man with four assists this year, which is tied with dangerous wide player Kai Wagner.
Orlando’s midfield will need a strong showing. Jim Curtin’s team has prioritized strong play in the middle of the pitch to turn over opponents and create transition opportunities. Orlando has generally played well out of the back against the Union in the last couple of meetings.
“We have a tough week, now going to Philadelphia [Union] and planning to get those three points,” said Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja. “It looks like we’re going to need a lot of energy and character too to bounce back and try to bring back a result. The tactical part of Philadelphia is well known. Now we had the boys training again, as always, and trying to see if we can plan on getting this result.”
For Orlando, as mentioned, Nani and Perea will miss this match due to their one-game suspension for being sent off againt Montreal. In addition, Alexandre Pato and Mason Stajduhar remain out. Sebas Mendez was upgraded to ‘questionable’ on the availability report, however, Joao Moutinho, Chris Mueller, and Uri Rosell are all added to the report as questionable and you already know what their listed injuries are, so I don’t even need to type those two words in here. Silvester van der Water came off the pitch with a knock Wednesday but does not appear on the availability report, which means little or nothing — he could either start or not even dress. The Union will be without Ilsinho (hamstring), while Santos (calf) is questionable.
Mandatory Match Content
- Our Intelligence Report features a scouting report on the Union courtesy of Joe Lister of SBNation’s Brotherly Game blog.
- This week's PawedCast includes our key match-ups and score predictions for tonight’s game.
Orlando City (5-3-2),
Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.
Defenders: Kyle Smith, Rodrigo Schlegel, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, Ruan.
Midfielders: Mauricio Pereyra, Joey DeZart, Junior Urso.
Forwards: Benji Michel, Tesho Akindele.
Bench: Adam Grinwis, Emmanuel Mas, Joao Moutinho, Silvester van der Water, Daryl Dike, Alexander Alvarado, Michael Halliday, Raul Aguilera, Rio Hope-Gund.
Philadelphia Union (4-4-2 diamond)
Goalkeeper: Andre Blake.
Defenders: Kai Wagner, Jack Elliott, Jakob Glesnes, Olivier Mbaizo.
Midfielders: Jose Martinez, Leon Flach, Jamiro Monteiro, Alejandro Bedoya.
Forwards: Kacper Przybylko, Cory Burke.
Bench: Joe Bendik, Alvas Powell, Stuart Findlay, Jesus Bueno, Jack McGlynn, Quinn Sullivan, Paxten Aaronson, Daniel Gazdag, Sergio Santos.
Ref: Alan Kelly.
AR1: Adam Garner.
AR2: Ryan Graves.
4th: JC Griggs.
VAR: Kevin Terry Jr.
AVAR: Claudiu Badea.
How to Watch
Match Time: 4 p.m. (ET).
Venue: Subaru Park — Chester, PA.
TV: ESPN, ESPN Deportes.
Radio: 104.1 FM Real Radio (English), Acción 97.9 FM and 810 AM (Spanish).
Streaming: WatchESPN, ESPN3.
Enjoy the match. Go City!