Welcome to your match thread for a Wednesday night match-up between Orlando City (10-8-8, 38 points) and Nashville SC (11-3-12, 45 points) at Nissan Stadium. It’s the second of three scheduled meetings between the two southeastern sides this season and the second of two in Nashville. Nashville SC will make the return trip to Exploria Stadium on Halloween.
Here’s what you need to know ahead of the match.
The Lions are 1-1-2 in the all-time series and 0-0-2 in Nashville. Oddly, the team scoring first has yet to win in the series.
The teams last met on Aug. 18 in Nashville and finished in a 1-1 draw. C.J. Sapong put the hosts ahead in the first half and Antonio Carlos leveled the score in the second half. The Lions, who played poorly in the opening 45, were the better team throughout the second half and Tesho Akindele’s shot off the crossbar was inches from providing a winner for Orlando.
The last meeting at Exploria Stadium 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.
In the Lions’ first trip to Nissan Stadium, the teams 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 on 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 sliding down the table due to their current four-match losing streak — easily the longest since Oscar Pareja became head coach. However, Orlando played better in Saturday’s 2-1 loss at league-leading New England. Dike powered a goal through Matt Turner to cancel out Adam Buksa’s early strike, but an own goal off Rodrigo Schlegel and a saved penalty on a Nani attempt was enough to keep Orlando on a losing track. Making matters worse is that starting center back Robin Jansson picked up another booking and will be suspended for tonight’s match.
The Lions are just 3-6-4 in road games this season and 2-6-4 in away games that are actually away from Exploria Stadium.
Nashville is impenetrable at home, posting a record of 8-0-6 at Nissan Stadium in 2021. Tonight’s hosts return home after a 2-1-1 road trip that began with 1-0 win at Montreal and included a surprising 2-1 loss at Toronto, a 5-1 drubbing of Inter Miami in Ft. Lauderdale, and finished Sunday with a scoreless draw against the Chicago Fire at Soldier Field. Nashville hasn’t tasted defeat at home since Nov. 4 of last season against FC Dallas.
This year’s Nashville SC team has continued to play excellent defense, with the fewest goals allowed (24) in the Eastern Conference and tied for the second-fewest conceded in all of MLS. A Lions team that has struggled to generate clear-cut chances (and finish them when they appear) must be clinical to have a chance in this match.
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 MLS have scored more than Nashville’s 44 goals. Mukhtar has 12 goals on the season while Sapong has 10 to pace Nashville. Mukhtar also leads his club with nine assists, while Leal has seven on the season.
To get anything out of this match, the Lions must return to their stout defensive posture that they held through the season’s first half, but they must also take their few chances when they come. The back line and central midfield must contain the potent Nashville attacking trio, while not fouling. Tonight’s hosts have center backs who are more than capable in the air and crafty offensive players who can shake free of their marks.
“Talking about Nashville, the way that they play and the way that they have done their job, I think that they have a very rigid model with not many changes,” Head Coach Oscar Pareja said in his pre-match press conference. “Especially in comparison with the game that we played with them in Nashville (on Aug. 18), their typical 1-5-3-2 that we see against other teams. A team that has confidence too, a team that has gotten good results and we’re now with the urgency that is obviously trying to get out of this difficult moment.”
In addition to Jansson, the Lions will be without Joey DeZart and Alexandre Pato. Mason Stajduhar was not on this week’s availability report, while Mueller and Uri Rosell are listed as questionable. Nashville’s availability report shows no one injured or suspended. That must be nice.
Mandatory Match Content
- This week’s PawedCast includes our key match-ups and predictions for tonight’s game.
Orlando City (4-4-2)
Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.
Defenders: Joao Moutinho, Rodrigo Schlegel, Antonio Carlos, Ruan.
Midfielders: Mauricio Pereyra, Junior Urso, Sebas Mendez, Alexander Alvarado.
Forwards: Silvester van der Water, Daryl Dike.
Bench: Mason Stajduhar, Emmanuel Mas, Kyle Smith, Rio Hope-Gund, Raul Aguilera, Jordan Bender, Nani, Benji Michel, Tesho Akindele.
Nashville SC (3-5-2)
Goalkeeper: Joe Willis.
Defenders: Dave Romney, Walker Zimmerman, Jack Maher.
Wingbacks/Midfielders: Daniel Lovitz, Anibal Godoy, Dax McCarty, Hany Mukhtar, Alistair Johnston.
Forwards: C.J. Sapong, Randall Leal.
Bench: Bryan Meredith, Eric Miller, Taylor Washington, Luke Haakenson, Tah Anunga, Alex Muyl, Jhonder Cadiz, Daniel Rios, Aké Arnaud Loba.
Ref: Drew Fischer.
AR1: Nick Uranga.
AR2: Kathryn Nesbitt.
4th: Thomas Snyder.
VAR: Daniel Radford.
AVAR: Brooke Mayo.
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+ out of market. It can also be streamed on the LionNation app locally.
Enjoy the game. Go City!
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