Welcome to your match thread and preview for a Sunday evening match-up between Orlando City and New York City FC at Exploria Stadium (7:30 p.m., FS1, FOX Deportes). This will be the first of the two scheduled meetings between the Lions (10-10-6, 36 points) and Pigeons (13-7-6, 45 points) this season. Orlando will make the return trip north on Oct. 2 but it will be held in Red Bull Arena rather than Yankee Stadium.
Here is what you need to know ahead of the match.
The Lions are 6-6-6 in 18 meetings with NYCFC in the all-time series in MLS play and 6-6-8 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 at 3-2-4 at home in this series in MLS play.
Orlando City had a five-game unbeaten streak in the series (1-0-4) absolutely demolished in the last meeting, 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, Maxi Moralez, Malte Amundsen, and Valentin Castellanos. Orlando City has won only once in the last 13 competitive meetings between the teams.
The teams last 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 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 is riding a two-game winning streak but both of those matches were on the road. The Lions’ home struggles are documented well enough that we don’t have to go into them here, except to say that they have a record of 5-7-0 at Exploria Stadium. It’s bizarre that the team hasn’t been able to turn a few of those losses into draws but it’s been all or nothing on the Lions’ home pitch and nothing more often than all.
New York City FC snapped a three-match losing streak with a 2-0 win over the Chicago Fire on the road last Sunday. NYCFC had set a dubious club record in the previous three matches, allowing three goals in all of them — the first such stretch in the team’s history. The Pigeons are a decent 5-5-3 in road games this season.
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 visitors have a lot of offensive talent. Heber, Talles Magno, and Gabriel Pereira each have six goals on the season, and Thiago Andrade is right behind, with five. Magno also has eight assists on the year, so he is equally adept at setting up his teammates. NYCFC is more offense by committee without Castellanos, but it has the committee to get it done (for example, I haven’t even mentioned veteran Maxi Moralez yet).
“Here we are in front of another massive game against New York City,” Head Coach Oscar Pareja said in his pre-match press conference. “A rival who come from their prior game in Chicago with a big three [points] as well after dealing with some challenges. [They play] with a structure of 4-2-3-1 and with players that we know already and have had prior competitions with. We have the same mentality to just keep adding points and stay committed to getting a win at home that we need so badly in front of our fans and continue this momentum of good results and performances.”
Orlando City will be without Mauricio Pereyra (yellow card accumulation), Alexandre Pato (knee), and Joey DeZart (knee), while Robin Jansson (lower leg) and Jack Lynn (thigh) are questionable. NYCFC will be without Keaton Parks (lower body), Alfredo Morales (lower body), Alex Callens (lower body) — yes, the Pigeons have adopted Orlando’s former go-to, the “lower body injury” — and Santiago Rodriguez (yellow card accumulation).
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: Wilder Cartagena, Junior Urso
Attacking Midfielders: Jake Mulraney, Facundo Torres, Benji Michel.
Forward: Ercan Kara.
Bench: Mason Stajduhar, Kyle Smith, Michael Halliday, Thomas Williams, Cesar Araujo, Andres Perea, Ivan Angulo, Nicholas Gioacchini, Tesho Akindele.
New York City FC (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Sean Johnson.
Defenders: Malte Amundsen, Thiago Martins, Maxime Chanot, Anton Tinnerholm.
Defensive Midfielders: Justin Haak, Nicolas Acevedo.
Attacking Midfielders: Thiago Andrade, Maxi Moralez, Gabriel Pereira.
Forward: Talles Magno.
Bench: Luis Barraza, Andres Jasson, Tayvon Gray, Kevin O’Toole, Christopher Gloster, Samuel Owusu, Gedion Zelalem, Matias Pellegrini, Heber.
Ref: Chris Penso.
AR1: Corey Rockwell.
AR2: Mike Rottersman.
4th: Elton Garcia.
VAR: Carol Anne Chenard.
AVAR: Tom Supple.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7:30 p.m. ET.
Venue: Exploria Stadium — Orlando.
TV: FS1, FOX Deportes.
Radio: FM 96.9 The Game (English), Accion 97.9 FM and 810 AM (Spanish).
Streaming: FOX sports GO.
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!