Welcome to your match thread for a Saturday night match-up between Orlando City and the New England Revolution. This is the first of two scheduled meetings between the two MLS Eastern Conference rivals this season. The Revs will visit Exploria Stadium for the return fixture on Oct. 24.
For the first half of the MLS season, this looked to be an important match in the Eastern Conference — and possibly Supporters’ Shield — race. Now, the Revs have pulled comfortably ahead of the pack and the Lions are fighting for survival after a poor run of form the last few weeks.
Here’s what you need to know for the match.
The Lions are 2-4-5 in the all-time, regular-season series against New England, 3-5-5 in all competitions and a measly 0-4-1 on the road. That’s it — one stinking point from five trips to Gillette Stadium. The last time these teams met was a match to forget for the Lions. The Revs knocked Orlando City out of the MLS Cup playoffs in the conference semifinal round last Nov. 29, winning 3-1 at Exploria Stadium. It was the first road win for either side in the all-time series. Carles Gil put the Revs up early from the penalty spot after a call against Uri Rosell and Gustavo Bou doubled the lead eight minutes later, finishing a play that started with a Nani turnover the captain believed should have been called a foul. Junior Urso pulled a goal back before the halftime whistle, but Mauricio Pereyra was sent off for a studs-up challenge on Matt Polster at the hour mark. Still, Nani had a chance to equalize from the spot but a poor penalty was saved by Matt Turner. Bou added a late insurance goal.
The last regular-season meeting came back on Sept. 14, 2019 at Exploria Stadium, with the Lions overcoming a Tesho Akindele own goal and two deficits — the second by two goals — and rallying for a 3-3 draw. Akindele’s own goal opened the scoring 15 minutes in but Nani tied things up in the 22nd. Cristian Penilla and Gustavo Bou scored goals five minutes apart just before halftime to seemingly give the visitors control. But Dom Dwyer pulled one back after the restart and Nani tied it up in the 54th minute.
The teams met on July 27, 2019 in the last meeting at Gillette Stadium and the Revs put the Lions on full blast, 4-1. Bou scored within the first two minutes of the game and the Revolution got more goals from Penilla, Gil and Diego Fagundez. Akindele pulled one back to avoid the shutout.
The teams met at Exploria Stadium in U.S. Open Cup action back on June 19, 2019, with the Lions scoring twice in a 30-minute extra time session and holding on for a 2-1 victory. Benji Michel and Akindele staked Orlando to a 2-0 lead before Justin Rennicks pulled one back off a Gil back-post cross. City was able to see the game out.
The last meeting of 2018 saw the Revs top a depleted Orlando side, 2-0 in Gillette Stadium on Oct. 13. Penilla and Fagundez provided the offense. In the first match-up of 2018, the teams combined for six goals in a 3-3 draw at Orlando City Stadium on Aug. 4. Orlando battled back from a 2-0 deficit after Juan Agudelo and Penilla found the net. Dwyer pulled one back and Amro Tarek scored his first MLS goal to level things. Teal Bunbury restored the Revolution’s lead, but Scott Sutter headed home a Yoshimar Yotún set piece delivery in the 93rd to rescue a point for the Lions.
City completed a 6-1 demolition of 10-man New England at home Sept. 27, 2017. Kaká scored a brace, with Dwyer getting his first home goal as an MLS Lion and Yotún and Antonio Nocerino each scoring their first ever goal with OCSC. Seb Hines also scored for Orlando and Lee Nguyen got the Revs’ only tally on a free kick. New England won at Gillette Stadium that year by a 4-0 count and it could have been worse. Kei Kamara netted a hat trick and Bunbury also scored, with Nguyen assisting on all four goals to tie an MLS record. Jose Aja was sent off after receiving two yellow cards.
Orlando beat the Revs at home in Jason Kreis’ debut as the Lions’ coach on July 31, 2016, as Kevin Molino scored a brace for City in a 3-1 win. Cyle Larin also scored to more than offset Kamara’s strike. The teams also drew 2-2 twice in 2016 (and three times in the first four meetings), starting with the weird affair in Orlando back on April 17, 2016, in which the teams reached a controversial 2-2 final score. It was leveled by a very late Nguyen penalty for a handball in the box on Servando Carrasco, who didn’t touch it with any part of his hand or arm. Kaká opened the scoring on a penalty and Molino scored in the 92nd minute. Between those two goals, Bunbury scored off a corner that should have been ruled a goal kick.
The second 2016 meeting reached the same final score on April 30 in New England. This time the Revs appeared the better side for much of the game, but the Lions fought back twice from one-goal deficits on goals by Molino and Carlos Rivas to nullify scores by Fagundez and Agudelo.
The teams met twice in 2015, with Orlando City rallying from a 2-0 deficit in the final 17 minutes to draw 2-2 (there’s that score again) at the Citrus Bowl in April. Larin and Aurelien Collin provided the goals for the Lions. The Sept. 5 rematch at Gillette Stadium didn’t go as well, with New England taking a 3-0 win. Fagundez, Agudelo and Chris Tierney scored for the Revolution.
Orlando City is struggling and in free fall after sustaining three consecutive losses for the first time under Oscar Pareja. The Lions are coming off another controversial game in last Sunday’s 3-1 loss in Philadelphia. Kacper Przybylko’s elbow to Rodrigo Schlegel’s face was deemed not to be serious enough for a red card and he went on to break a 1-1 tie in the second half, scoring twice. Antonio Carlos, however, did receive a red card and will be unavailable for this match. But Orlando hasn’t been playing well and has conceded 12 times in the last four games after posting a solid defensive record most of the season.
The Lions are 3-5-4 on the road in 2021, but one of those “road wins” was at Exploria Stadium against Toronto. Orlando is 0-4-3 in its last seven matches away from home, losing the last two by a combined score of 6-1.
The Revs can’t put a single foot wrong this season. New England has breezed through the MLS schedule in 2021, currently sitting 13 points clear in the Supporters’ Shield “race” and being the only team to have already clinched a playoff spot. The Revolution are coming off a 3-2 midweek win at Chicago with Gil scoring a goal in stoppage time to claim all three points. New England is 3-0-1 in its last four games, with all three wins coming by a single goal each. The Revolution are nearly perfect at home, at 10-1-2 this season.
There could hardly be a more daunting task for Orlando right now than to go into New England in the Lions’ current run of form.
The Revs have the league’s best offense, scoring 51 goals in the team’s 27 games — seven more goals than the next best MLS offenses. Gil runs the show with his ability to both score goals and create for others. It’s easy to say stopping Gil is important, but much more difficult to do. And even if Gil has a quiet night, Bou and Adam Buksa up top and Tajon Buchanan bombing forward are just as difficult to stop.
If Orlando is going to get anything from the match, the Lions will have to go back to playing shutdown defense, get a big night from goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, and find a way to play from ahead, rather than behind.
“Another opportunity for us to bounce back in terms of the results,” Pareja said about the game. “Obviously we recognize that we haven’t had a good period here in the last two weeks, but now we’re going against a team who has done a good job so far and that just gives us the opportunity to have a result that can bring again our best hopes for the rest of the season. We’re clear on that and New England is a team who has done a good job. They’re having a good moment, but for sure we’re going to be competing with optimism and the same state of mind of trying to get a result.”
Midfielder Sebas Mendez was cleared to play and should be available for this match. That’s important, considering the way the central midfield has been bypassed by Orlando’s opponents in recent games and the injuries that have hit the position. Mendez is officially listed as questionable, along with Rosell and Chris Mueller. Joey DeZart, Alexandre Pato, and Mason Stajduhar are all out, as is the suspended Carlos.
New England doesn’t have any serious injury issues, with Jonathan Bell, Emmanuel Boateng, Bou, Gil, Edward Kizza, and Maciel all listed as questionable, although it would obviously not be ideal for the Revs if both Bou and Gil missed the match.
Mandatory Match Content
- Our Intelligence Report provides more info on the Revs from Jake Catanese from SB Nation’s New England blog, The Bent Musket.
- This week’s PawedCast includes our key match-ups and score predictions for the match.
Orlando City (4-4-2)
Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.
Defenders: Joao Moutinho, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, Ruan.
Midfielders: Mauricio Pereyra, Sebas Mendez, Junior Urso, Andres Perea.
Forwards: Benji Michel, Daryl Dike.
Bench: Adam Grinwis, Emmanuel Mas, Kyle Smith, Rio Hope-Gund, Raul Aguilera, Alexander Alvarado, Silvester van der Water, Nani, Tesho Akindele.
New England Revolution (4-4-2 diamond)
Goalkeeper: Matt Turner.
Defenders: DeJuan Jones, Henry Kessler, Andrew Farrell, Brandon Bye.
Midfielders: Tommy McNamara, Matt Polster, Carles Gil, Tajon Buchanan.
Forwards: Gustavo Bou, Adam Buksa.
Bench: Brad Knighton, AJ DeLaGarza, Christian Mafla, Jonathan Bell, Scott Caldwell, Luis Caicedo, Wilfred Kaptoum, Teal Bunbury.
Ref: Rosendo Mendoza.
AR1: Peter Balciunas.
AR2: Jeremy Kieso.
4th: Luis Arroyo.
VAR: Hilario Grajeda.
AVAR: Thomas Supple.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7 p.m. ET.
Venue: Gillette Stadium — Foxborough, MA.
TV: FOX 35 Plus (local only).
Radio: FM 96.9 The Game (English), Accion 97.9 (Spanish), 810 AM.
Streaming: The match can be streamed on ESPN+ (out of market only) or 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 match. Go City!
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