Welcome to your match thread and preview for a Sunday afternoon match-up between Orlando City and New York City FC at Red Bull Arena (1 p.m., FOX 35 Plus). That’s not a typo, this game is not being played at NYCFC’s usual (terrible) home. This will be the second of the two scheduled meetings between the Lions (13-12-6, 45 points) and Pigeons (14-11-7, 49 points) this season.
Here is what you need to know ahead of the match.
The Lions are 7-6-6 in 19 meetings with NYCFC in the all-time series in MLS play and 7-6-8 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 just 2-4-2 on the road in this series in MLS play.
The Lions got a Tesho Akindele goal at the death in the most recent meeting, stunning NYCFC and winning 2-1 at Exploria Stadium on Aug. 28. Junior Urso and Maxi Moralez had scored early in the first and second half, respectively, to set up Akindele’s dramatic late winner.
Orlando City had a five-game unbeaten streak in the series (1-0-4) absolutely demolished in the last meeting NYCFC hosted, a 5-0 loss at Yankee Stadium on July 25, 2021. The Lions started a makeshift lineup and it showed as the Pigeons got goals from Jesus Medina, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, Moralez, Malte Amundsen, and Valentin Castellanos. The teams met in Orlando on May 8, 2021 and drew 1-1. Nani smashed a golazo in the second half to put the Lions on top but Joao Moutinho fouled Tajouri-Shradi in the box and 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 goalkeeper 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 the 2020 season series on Oct. 14 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. 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 City won its most recent match but it seems ages since the Lions thumped Toronto FC, 4-0 on Sept. 17. That snapped a two-game losing streak in league play that came in the wake of Orlando’s emotional U.S. Open Cup championship victory. The Lions haven’t played on the road since being destroyed 5-1 at the Philadelphia Union a couple of days after lifting the trophy. Prior to that, Orlando had won its two most recent road matches at Charlotte and the New York Red Bulls. City is 5-4-6 on the road in 2022 with two away games remaining.
New York City FC had been in free fall, losing four out of five and going unbeaten in a run 0-4-1 streak prior to beating Atlas FC to win Campeones Cup on Sept. 14 at Yankee Stadium. It seems even Liga MX teams don’t like playing on the tiny field in the baseball stadium. The Pigeons took some confidence from that win and translated that to league play with a 2-0 win over the Red Bulls in the Hudson River Derby on Sept. 17 at Yankee Stadium. Defender Alex Callens scored in both matches, so set piece awareness will have to be at a premium for the Lions today.
NYCFC is 9-3-4 in all home games in 2022, splitting time in three different stadiums. The Pigeons are 7-1-2 in their usual Yankee Stadium home, 2-0-2 at Citi Field Stadium, and 0-2-0 at Red Bull Arena.
Look for New York City FC to try to keep the ball or win it back quickly when Orlando has it. Although Castellanos has gone to Girona on loan, tonight’s hosts have a lot of offensive talent. Heber and Gabriel Pereira each have seven goals on the season, Talles Magno is just behind with six, and Thiago Andrade has chipped in five. Santiago Rodriguez, who missed the last meeting due to yellow card accumulation, has been the primary setup man with 13 assists in 2022. Magno and Moralez each have eight assists on the year. NYCFC is more offense by committee without Castellanos, but it has the committee to get it done.
“New York (City) is a rival that we all know and the moment is very crucial for both teams, on trying to place themselves in the position that will get them the advantage of playing at home in the playoffs, and us trying to clinch,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said in his pre-match press conference. “So, there’s no secrets. We’re in the moment of just (trying to) make things happen again and we are really used to it, so we’re hoping that things (go) well. We’re trying to be as normal as we can on our preparations, understanding the challenges that we all had under the weather and the hurricane, and the limitations that we had on trying to be in the building, but we’re good. The boys have been doing a terrific job adapting to things and we’re good. There are no excuses.”
Orlando City will be without Alexandre Pato (knee) and Joey DeZart (knee), while Robin Jansson (lower leg) is questionable. As of this writing, NYCFC’s game notes weren’t yet available.
Mandatory Match Content
- This week’s PawedCast includes our key match-ups and score predictions for the New York City FC game.
- Our Dave Rohe outlined his three keys for an Orlando City victory in the match.
- Josh Munsey took a dive inside NYCFC’s statistics in his latest scouting report.
Orlando City (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.
Defenders: Joao Moutinho, Rodrigo Schlegel, Antonio Carlos, Ruan.
Defensive Midfielders: Cesar Araujo, Junior Urso
Attacking Midfielders: Ivan Angulo, Mauricio Pereyra, Facundo Torres.
Forward: Ercan Kara.
Bench: Mason Stajduhar, Michael Halliday, Kyle Smith, Wilder Cartagena, Andres Perea, Jake Mulraney, Nicholas Gioacchini, Benji Michel, Tesho Akindele.
New York City FC (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Sean Johnson.
Defenders: Alex Callens, Maxime Chanot, Thiago Martins, Tayvon Gray.
Defensive Midfielders: Maxi Moralez, Nicolas Acevedo.
Attacking Midfielders: Kevin O’Toole, Santiago Rodriguez, Gabriel Pereira.
Forward: Talles Magno.
Bench: Luis Barraza, Malte Amundsen, Anton Tinnerholm, Andres Jasson, Keaon Parks, Justin Haak, Heber, Thiago Andrade, Matias Pellegrini.
Ref: Joe Dickerson.
AR1: Cameron Blanchard.
AR2: Chris Wattam.
4th: Luis Arroyo.
VAR: Rosendo Mendoza.
AVAR: Mike Kampmeinert.
How to Watch
Match Time: 1 p.m. ET.
Venue: Red Bull Arena — Harrison, NJ.
TV: FOX 35 Plus (local only).
Radio: 104.1 FM Real Radio (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.
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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