Welcome to your match thread and preview for a Wednesday night U.S. Open Cup semifinal match-up between Orlando City and the New York Red Bulls at Exploria Stadium (7:30 p.m., ESPN+). It’s the first time the teams have met in this competition in the Lions’ MLS era.
Here’s what you need to know for the match.
The Lions are 5-9-2 in 16 league meetings with the Red Bulls in the all-time series, with a 3-4-1 mark at home. Orlando is on a four-game winless streak (0-3-1) in the series. The most recent indignity came on April 24, when the Lions were walloped 3-0 at home on goals by Luquinhas, Cristian Casseres Jr., and Lewis Morgan and Orlando City failed to get any of its measly three shot attempts on target.
The Red Bulls swept the season series in 2021, handing Orlando City its first home loss of last year as well as the Lions’ first loss overall. The teams met at Exploria Stadium last year on July 3, with New York taking home a 2-1 win. Casseres opened the scoring just six minutes in, but Chris Mueller pulled the Lions level early in the second half. Fabio’s late goal lifted the visitors. Mauricio Pereyra’s poor penalty was saved by Carlos Coronel, which cost Orlando City a better result.
The Red Bulls handed Orlando City its first loss of the 2021 season, a 2-1 affair at Red Bull Arena, on May 29, 2021. Nani was suspended for that match and it showed, as the Lions were sloppy in possession and lacked composure on the ball. New York took the lead on goals by Caden Clark and Casseres, before Silvester van der Water pulled one back late. The Dutchman had a golden opportunity to tie the match moments later but skied his shot well over the bar.
The Lions got a road draw on Oct. 18, 2020, with Brian White equalizing deep in stoppage time in a 1-1 match. Nani had put the Lions ahead in the second half with a penalty kick goal and Orlando clinched its first ever MLS playoff spot despite spilling those late two points. That was the last match in the club’s record 12-match unbeaten streak in MLS play.
Orlando got the better of New York at Exploria Stadium on Oct. 3, 2020, winning 3-1 on goals by Daryl Dike, Junior Urso, and Antonio Carlos. Florian Valot scored for New York.
The Red Bulls won 1-0 at Exploria Stadium on July 21, 2019. White’s goal stood up as Carlos Ascues, Tesho Akindele, and Sacha Kljestan each hit the woodwork in the second half. Prior to that, the Lions eked out a 1-0 win at Red Bull Arena on Kljestan’s goal on March 23, 2019. Before that game, the home team had won each of the previous five home games in the series, splitting a pair of matches during the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
The Red Bulls grabbed a 1-0 result in the 2018 season finale to capture the Supporters’ Shield. It kicked off three consecutive 1-0 matches but the games used to be a bit more high scoring.
Prior to the 2018 finale, the clubs met in Orlando on March 31, 2018. The Lions pulled off a 4-3 home victory. Dom Dwyer marked his season debut with a brace and Will Johnson and Josué Colmán added goals to lift Orlando — the latter actually was a shot by Scott Sutter that went off the Paraguayan’s back. Valot, Derrick Etienne, and Aaron Long scored for New York.
The teams met three times in 2016, with New York going 2-0-1. The teams split two games in 2015, with the road team winning both times, including Orlando City’s 5-2 win in New Jersey behind a Cyle Larin hat trick.
The Lions are just 5-6-0 at home in league play in 2022 but 2-0-2 in U.S. Open Cup play for a total home record of 7-8-2 in all competitions. Orlando City is on a poor run of form with just two wins since May 14 and currently riding a three-game winless skid (0-1-2) in competitive play since squeaking out a 1-0 win on a stoppage-time own goal by Damion Lowe of Inter Miami. Had that gaffe not occurred, the Lions’ winless run would be 0-3-4.
But the Lions have at least fared well at home in USOC matches, with 2-1 wins over the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Philadelphia Union, followed by a pair of draws against Inter Miami and Nashville SC. The Lions advanced on penalties against both teams to reach tonight’s semifinal.
Meanwhile, the Red Bulls have been great on the road (7-3-2) in league play. New York sits third in the MLS Eastern Conference standings and is coming off a 4-3 road victory at Austin FC on Sunday. The Red Bulls were able to beat the Western Conference challengers with several young players on the pitch, so they’ll be plenty fresh coming into Exploria Stadium. That’s in direct contrast with the Lions, who will be playing their seventh match in 23 days and many of Orlando City’s top players have logged a ton of minutes in that span — including in Saturday night’s 1-0 home defeat against the Union.
But you have to play the schedule in front of you, so Orlando City will suit up and try to beat a team that has vexed Oscar Pareja. The Lions are 1-3-1 against New York since Pareja took over the team prior to the 2020 season.
Casseres is always unusually dangerous against Orlando, so he’ll be a man to watch, but certainly not the only one. Lewis Morgan has nine goals and three assists on the season, while Luquinhas has five goals and Patryk Klimala has four. Omir Fernandez has been New York’s top setup man, with six assists in 2022.
New York will likely continue to do what it’s done over the years — relentlessly press high, look to force turnovers, and try to create overloads and odd-man situations in the attacking third. Lazy or off-line passes by Orlando’s back line or midfield will be punished. On the other end, Orlando City will need to deal with a back line led by Aaron Long and Sean Nealis in front of goalkeeper Carlos Coronel.
“We are very excited, preparing for the game and the semifinal,” Pareja said in his pre-match press conference. “This is a great opportunity for the club to advance to another final. The players are excited as well and have been working hard trying to focus on the competition. We are excited.”
Orlando City will be without Mason Stajduhar (jaw) and Joey DeZart (right knee).
Mandatory Match Content
- This week’s PawedCast includes our key match-ups and score predictions for today’s match.
Orlando City (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.
Defenders: Joao Moutinho, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, Ruan.
Defensive Midfielders: Cesar Araujo, Junior Urso.
Attacking Midfielders: Facundo Torres, Mauricio Pereyra, Benji Michel.
Forward: Alexandre Pato.
Bench: Adam Grinwis, Kyle Smith, Rodrigo Schlegel, Andres Perea, Nicholas Gioacchini, Tesho Akindele, Ercan Kara.
New York Red Bulls (3-5-2)
Goalkeeper: Carlos Coronel.
Defenders: Aaron Long, Sean Nealis, John Tolkin.
Midfielders: Dylan Nealis, Cristian Casseres Jr., Luquinhas, Frankie Amaya, Lewis Morgan.
Forwards: Patryk Klimala, Omir Fernandez.
Bench: Ryan Meara, Andres Reyes, Daniel Edelman, Caden Clark, Dru Yearwood, Cameron Harper, Tom Barlow.
Ref: Victor Rivas.
AR1: Ben Pilgrim.
AR2: Artyom Arustamyan.
4th: Luis Arroyo.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7:30 p.m.
Venue: Exploria Stadium — Orlando.
Streaming: The match can be streamed on ESPN+.
Enjoy the match. Go City!
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