Welcome to your match preview and live thread for a Saturday night inaugural match-up between Orlando City (4-3-2, 14 points) and expansion side Charlotte FC (3-5-1, 10 points) at Exploria Stadium (7:30 p.m., FOX 35 Plus). This is the first of two scheduled meetings between the new Eastern Conference foes this season. The Lions will make the return trip to Charlotte on Aug. 21.
Here’s what you need to know ahead of the match.
There isn’t any history. This will be the first meeting between the teams. The Lions haven’t played a team from any Carolina since a June 17, 2015 trip to Charleston (South Carolina) for a U.S. Open Cup match against the Charleston Battery. The last time Orlando City faced a team from North Carolina was Sept. 3, 2014, when the Lions were still a USL team and played to a scoreless draw against the Wilmington Hammerheads on the road.
Orlando City enters on the heels of its worst performance to date in 2022, with the Lions falling 3-0 at home last Sunday against the New York Red Bulls. That snapped a three-game winning streak in all competitions and undid some of the good things Orlando managed in snapping a two-game home losing streak with wins over the Fire and Tampa Bay — the latter coming in U.S. Open Cup play. The Lions are just 2-3-0 at home in league play in 2022, which is...well, just weird. It’s even weirder when you consider that Orlando mostly outplayed both FC Cincinnati and LAFC but lost to both teams anyway.
Charlotte FC is 0-4-1 away from home and will be pressing for the franchise’s first road victory. The expansion team has scored just two goals in those five previous away matches and conceded nine. However, three of those nine came in the team’s first ever match at D.C. United. Charlotte’s most recent trip away from home came last weekend in a 0-0 draw at Colorado — a difficult place for visitors to get a result.
The primary task for Orlando City won’t be an easy one — shutting down Designated Player Karol Swiderski, who has four of Charlotte’s eight goals on the season and assisted on one of the other three. The secondary task for the Lions will be closing down Ben Bender, who has one of the four goals Swiderski didn’t score and a team-high three assists. If Orlando can lock down Swiderski and Bender, the leaky home defense should be fine. But the offense will also need to produce against a team that has been a little better than expected defensively, sitting in the middle of the Eastern Conference pack.
“Charlotte is a new franchise that we have never played before, but in this league we already know each other enough and we have seen them play already,” Head Coach Oscar Pareja said in his pre-match press conference. “This game will certainly be a new experience for both. We’re going with the urgency that we have right now from not getting the three points in the last game and now just having the chance to be back on the road to winning. We just have to have a good series of games in which we reach our objectives. We’re ready, the boys are working, and we’re trying to learn from the last game but also just to be prepared for this one.”
Orlando City will be without center back Antonio Carlos (hamstring) and forward Tesho Akindele (thigh). Charlotte’s injury list is a bit longer, with Vinicius Mello (left foot surgery), Chris Hegardt (left knee surgery), Joseph Mora (health & safety protocol), Yordy Reyna (lower leg), and Adan Armour (left knee) listed as out.
Mandatory Match Content
- This week’s PawedCast includes our key match-ups and score predictions for today’s match, as well as our exclusive interview with Orlando Pride goalkeeper Kaylie Collins.
- Dave Rohe outlined his three keys to victory for Orlando City in this match.
- Josh Munsey provided a scouting report on Charlotte FC.
Orlando City (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.
Defenders: Joao Moutinho, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, Ruan.
Defensive Midfielders: Cesar Araujo, Junior Urso.
Attacking Midfielders: Facundo Torres, Mauricio Pereyra, Benji Michel.
Forward: Ercan Kara.
Bench: Mason Stajduhar, Kyle Smith, Thomas Williams, Andres Perea, Joey DeZart, Sebas Mendez, Silvester van der Water, Alexandre Pato, Jack Lynn.
Charlotte FC (4-1-3-2)
Goalkeeper: Kristijan Kahlina.
Defenders: Christian Makoun, Christian Fuchs, Guzman Corujo, Jaylin Lindsey.
Defensive Midfielder: Brandt Bronico.
Attacking Midfielders: Jordy Alcivar, Christian Ortiz, Alan Franco.
Forwards: Daniel Rios, Karol Swiderski.
Bench: George Marks, Harrison Afful, Anton Walkes, Sergio Ruiz, Derrick Jones, Kamil Jozwiak, McKinze Gaines, Jan Sobocinski, Ben Bender.
Ref: Fotis Bazakos.
AR1: CJ Morgante.
AR2: Kevin Klinger.
4th: Natalie Simon.
VAR: Alejandro Mariscal.
AVAR: Jose Da Silva.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7:30 p.m., Saturday, April 30.
Venue: Exploria Stadium — Orlando.
TV: FOX 35 Plus (local only).
Radio: Real Radio 104.1 FM (English), Acción 97.9 FM and 810 AM (Spanish).
Streaming: The match can be streamed on ESPN+ (out of market only) and the LionNation app (in market only).
Enjoy the match. Go City!
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