Welcome to your match thread for a Saturday night match-up between Orlando City SC and the Philadelphia Union at Exploria Stadium (7:30 p.m., FOX 35 Plus). This is the first of two regular-season match-ups between the Lions (8-7-6, 30 points) and Union (10-2-9, 39 points) in 2022, with Orlando City making the return trip to Philadelphia on Sept. 10.
Here’s what you need to know ahead of the match.
Orlando City is 4-5-5 in the 14 MLS meetings with the Union since the club joined Major League Soccer in 2015, and 5-6-5 in all competitions.
The most recent meeting came in U.S. Open Cup play back on May 10, with the Lions winning 2-1 at home. Ercan Kara and Andres Perea hoisted Orlando to a 2-0 lead. Stuart Findlay pulled one back late but the Lions saw it out and advanced. Orlando and Philadelphia met once before in U.S. Open Cup play, with the Union capturing a 1-0 home win back on July 18, 2018 on a goal by Alejandro Bedoya.
The Lions are 2-1-3 against the Union at home in league play and 3-1-3 in all competitions.
The teams last met in MLS regular-season action on Sept. 19, 2021 at Subaru Park. The Union prevailed 3-1 largely due to a brace by Kacper Przybylko after he got away with what appeared a clear elbow to the face of Rodrigo Schlegel. Instead of being sent off or conceding a free kick to Orlando City, the Union scored on the ensuing play and went on to win the match. The last time the teams met in Orlando was last July 22. The Lions got goals by Benji Michel and Perea on the team’s only two shots on target and won 2-1. Przybylko, who had feasted on Orlando since arriving in Philadelphia, pulled one back for the visitors but the Lions hung on.
The teams met in 2020 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 and they went on to reach the final.
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 just prior to 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 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.
How Orlando City enters the match depends on your point of view. The Lions could be considered to be on a two-game winless streak after 1-1 draws at Colorado and Atlanta last week, or one could see City on a three-match unbeaten run (1-0-2). However, even the optimistic folks out there would concede the point that the fact that the one Orlando win in that run came on a stoppage time own goal, the Lions are hardly on their best run of form of the season.
Miami and Atlanta effectively marked Kara out of his last two matches by starving him of service — surrounding Pereyra and Facundo Torres whenever they touched the ball. Orlando has had no answer on the opposite wing and late runners into the box from central midfield (i.e., Junior Urso) haven’t been posing any kind of threat. That’s upset the offensive balance in recent weeks and it doesn’t help that the Lions will be playing their sixth game in 19 days after Wednesday’s friendly against Arsenal.
Orlando is just 5-5-0 at home in 2022, which climbs to 7-5-2 when adding U.S. Open Cup games, including that previous win over the Union.
Philadelphia is on a four-game unbeaten streak, winning its last three in a row. The Union are 4-2-4 on the road this season, so they’re not an easy out when traveling, and they’ve had a regular week of full rest after last Saturday’s 2-1 comeback home win over the New England Revolution.
Orlando will have to deal with Philadelphia’s strong midfield play and limit opportunities for Daniel Gazdag and Julian Carranza, who have combined for 16 goals and nine assists on the season. Newcomer Mikael Uhre is heating up and has added six goals and an assist in 2022. Even Bedoya has been a threat from the midfield, posting five goals on the year — already his most in a season since joining Philadelphia in 2016 — although he won’t feature in this game due to suspension.
The Lions will also need to be aware of Kai Wagner joining the play, as he leads the Union in assists, with 10. Regardless of who plays fullback on Wagner’s side, they must press him tightly to prevent dangerous crosses. At the other end of the pitch, the Lions have to find a way to create opportunities to beat a stingy and organized defense, led by Jamaican international goalkeeper Andre Blake.
“In the last three or four games they have changed a couple of things here in their structure,” Head Coach Oscar Pareja said of the Union in his pre-match press conference. “Philadelphia is a very hard rival. A lot of energy. They have young players that bring that energy. I think Jim (Curtin) has done a terrific job with this franchise and putting them on top of things and always fighting for points and fighting for trophies. And we are in the same idea, just trying to be protagonists and trying to stay there and get higher in the standings. And we may have a little more urgency than them because we’re at home, and we need these three points, indeed.”
Orlando will be without Mason Stajduhar (jaw) and Joey DeZart (knee), while Philadelphia’s injury report lists only Jack Elliott (knee) as questionable. As mentioned above, Bedoya is out due to suspension.
Mandatory Match Content
- Our Intelligence Report goes deeper inside Philadelphia with the help of Joe Lister from SBNation’s Union blog, Brotherly Game.
- The most recent PawedCast includes our key match-ups and score predictions for tonight’s game.
- Our Dave Rohe provided his three keys to victory for Orlando City against Philadelphia.
- Josh Munsey went inside the Union’s numbers in his latest scouting report.
Orlando City (4-2-3-1),
Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.
Defenders: Joao Moutinho, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, Ruan.
Defensive Midfielders: Cesar Araujo, Andres Perea.
Attacking Midfielders: Jake Mulraney, Mauricio Pereyra, Facundo Torres.
Forward: Ercan Kara.
Bench: Adam Grinwis, Kyle Smith, Michael Halliday, Antonio Carlos, Junior Urso, Benji Michel, Tesho Akindele, Jack Lynn, Alexandre Pato.
Philadelphia Union (4-4-2 diamond)
Goalkeeper: Andre Blake.
Defenders: Kai Wagner, Jack Elliott, Jakob Glesnes, Olivier Mbaizo.
Midfielders: Jose Martinez, Leon Flach, Jack McGlynn, Daniel Gazdag.
Forwards: Michael Uhre, Julian Carranza.
Bench: Joe Bendik, Brandan Craig, Chris Donovan, Nathan Harriel, Matt Real, Jesus Bueno, Paxten Aaronson, Quinn Sullivan, Cory Burke.
Ref: Alex Chilowicz.
AR1: Corey Parker.
AR2: Jason White.
4th: Sergii Demianchuk.
VAR: Jair Marrufo.
AVAR: Jeff Muschik.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7:30 p.m.
Venue: Exploria Stadium — Orlando.
TV: FOX 35 Plus (local only).
Radio: FM 96.9 The Game (English), Accion 97.9 FM and 810 AM (Spanish).
Streaming: The match can be streamed on ESPN+ (out of market only) and on the LionNation app (in market only).
Enjoy the match. Go City!
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