Welcome to your match thread and preview for an opening night match-up between Orlando City and the New York Red Bulls at Exploria Stadium (7:30 p.m., MLS Season Pass on Apple TV). This is the first of two scheduled league matches between the sides this season, with the Red Bulls hosting the Lions on June 3.
It is important to note that games this year are streaming on MLS Season Pass on Apple TV and will no longer be on ESPN+ or on FOX 35 Plus.
Here’s what you need to know for the match.
The Lions are 6-9-2 in 17 league meetings with the Red Bulls in the all-time series (7-9-2 in all competitions), with a league record of 3-4-1 at home matches (4-4-1 at home in all competitions).
Orlando City won the most recent meeting, a 1-0 decision at Red Bull Arena on Aug. 13, 2022, thanks to a Facundo Torres goal. That allowed the Lions to split the regular-season meetings and take two of three against New York in all competitions in 2022.
The Lions scored five unanswered goals to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 5-1 romp in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals on July 27, 2022 at Exploria Stadium. Cesar Araujo scored his first two professional goals on set pieces, while Mauricio Pereyra, Torres, and Benji Michel also found the net.
The win last August allowed the Lions to snap a four-game winless streak (0-3-1) in the regular-season series. The last of those non-wins came on April 24, 2022, 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. The teams met at Exploria Stadium on July 3 of that season 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. Pereyra’s poor penalty was saved by Carlos Coronel, which cost Orlando City a better result.
The Red Bulls also 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.
Orlando City is an odd 2-0-6 in opening day games, with the wins coming in 2017 — the Lions’ first match in Exploria Stadium — and last year against Montreal. The last two of those six draws were scoreless. New York is 13-9-5 in their season openers.
The Lions enter the 2023 season with a lot of new faces in the attack and some question marks on defense. Both starting fullbacks departed after 2022 and Antonio Carlos (lower leg) will likely be unavailable although he’s listed officially as questionable.
Orlando City has added Designated Player Martin Ojeda and Gaston Gonzalez is in the midst of returning from ACL surgery, working his way into some minutes in the preseason as he regains his fitness. Additionally, MLS U22 Initiative forward Ramiro Enrique has recently arrived in Orlando and the team added two more young attackers in the 2023 MLS SuperDraft. Gone are Michel, Akindele, and Alexandre Pato.
The Lions will be looking to improve upon a disappointing 9-8-0 home record from a year ago. Meanwhile, the Red Bulls were a solid 9-5-3 on the road last season, including that dominating win in Orlando. New York finished fourth in the Eastern Conference last year — three positions and five points ahead of Orlando City.
“At this point of the season, where we have spent quite a few weeks preparing, we feel optimistic and our feelings are positive,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said at this week’s media availability. “We’re good. The boys have been training hard with some challenges that we have through the processes, like every team in Major League Soccer has, but at this point we’re just ready to go and compete. That’s what we’re waiting for.”
Casseres is always unusually dangerous against Orlando, so he’ll be a man to watch, but certainly not the only one. Lewis Morgan scored 14 goals and added four assists last season to pace the Red Bulls. He scored a screamer against Orlando in the U.S. Open Cup match last year before the Lions roared back. Brazilian midfielder Luquinhas chipped in five goals and three assists in 2022 and was always dangerous against the Lions. The Red Bulls have added veteran forward Cory Burke, Brazilian striker Elias Manoel, and Belgian Designated Player Dante Vanzeir to the attack.
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 solid back line. Aaron Long is gone, but Jon Tolkin always plays well against the Lions and goalkeeper Carlos Coronel has stolen more than one goal from an Orlando shooter.
In addition to Carlos, Orlando City lists Jack Lynn (left thigh) and Favian Loyola (left thigh) as questionable. New York is also mainly healthy, with Dru Yearwood (hamstring) and Serge Ngoma (hamstring) listed as out.
Mandatory Match Content
- This week’s PawedCast includes our key match-ups and score predictions for today’s match and our exclusive interview with Orlando City SC President of Business Operations Jarrod Dillon.
- Our David Rohe gave his three keys to an Orlando City victory in this match.
- Our preseason staff roundtable tells you where our heads are at and includes our predictions for the 2023 season.
Orlando City (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.
Defenders: Luca Petrasso, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, Michael Halliday.
Defensive Midfielders: Cesar Araujo, Mauricio Pereyra.
Attacking Midfielders: Ivan Angulo, Martin Ojeda, Facundo Torres.
Forward: Ercan Kara.
Bench: Mason Stajduhar, Kyle Smith, Rafael Santos, Abdi Salim, Wilder Cartagena, Felipe, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, Ramiro Enrique, Duncan McGuire.
New York Red Bulls (3-4-3)
Goalkeeper: Carlos Coronel.
Defenders: Andres Reyes, Sean Nealis, John Tolkin.
Midfielders: Lewis Morgan, Frankie Amaya, Luquinhas, Cristian Casseres Jr.
Forwards: Cameron Harper, Elias Manoel, Tom Barlow.
Bench: Ryan Meara, Jayden Reid, Dylan Nealis, Matthew Nocita, Steven Sserwadda, Daniel Edelman, Omir Fernandez, Peter Stroud, Cory Burke.
Ref: Guido Gonzales Jr.
AR1: Andrew Bigelow.
AR2: Kevin Klinger.
4th: Alyssa Nichols.
VAR: Jose Carlos Rivero.
AVAR: Rene Parra.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7;30 p.m.
Venue: Exploria Stadium — Orlando.
TV/Streaming: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV.
Radio: Real Radio 104.1 FM (English), Acción 97.9 FM and 810 AM (Spanish).
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!