Welcome to your match thread for a Saturday night match-up between Orlando City and D.C. United at Audi Field (7:30 p.m., MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+). This is the first of two scheduled MLS matches this season between the Lions (1-0-1, 4 points) and the Black and Red (1-1-0, 3 points). United will make the return trip to Orlando on Saturday, April 22.
Here’s what you need to know ahead of the match.
The Lions are 6-8-1 against D.C. in the all-time league series since the club joined MLS, and 6-8-2 in all competitions. Orlando is just 2-5-0 in league road games against D.C. and 2-5-1 in all competitions in the greater District of Columbia metropolitan area.
D.C. swept the season series in 2022, despite being a terrible team that “won” the league’s Wooden Spoon by no small margin. The last meeting saw Orlando City dominate the first half but miss multiple glorious chances to put the game away early. The Lions were wasteful and took only a 1-0 lead into stoppage time, thanks to Junior Urso’s first-half goal, only to fall 2-1 on goals in the 91st and 95th minutes by Chris Durkin and Taxi Fountas, respectively.
The teams also met on Independence Day at Exploria Stadium, with D.C. putting together a performance out of nowhere in a 5-3 road win. Fountas netted his first MLS hat trick and Kimarni Smith and Nigel Robertha added their first goals of the season. Facundo Torres, Ercan Kara, and Alexandre Pato scored for Orlando, threatening to bring the Lions back, but Orlando could never get on level terms.
The teams met at Exploria Stadium on Oct. 2, 2021, with Daryl Dike scoring a dramatic, late winner in the 97th minute to lift the Lions to a 2-1 home victory. Robin Jansson scored a first-half goal off a corner kick scramble to offset an early Julian Gressel strike. The first match of 2021 took place on May 16 in D.C., with the Lions winning 1-0 on a seventh-minute Mauricio Pereyra goal. That win snapped United’s 3-0-1 streak in the series in league play and 3-0-2 in all competitions dating back to City’s previously most recent win over D.C. back in 2017.
The teams did not meet in what was an odd 2020 season.
D.C. United swept the season series in 2019, winning 1-0 at Audi Field back on June 26, 2019. Wayne Rooney’s wondergoal from his own half of the pitch caught Brian Rowe napping and served as the only scoring in that match. The Lions fell 2-1 at home on March 31, 2019, with set pieces ruining the night for Orlando. You might recall that controversy surrounded the winning goal, with then-coach James O’Connor visibly upset after the match. Steve Birnbaum scored the first on a set piece and Rooney scored the second on a free kick that he took from wherever the hell he wanted rather than where the foul occurred. Frederic Brillant bulldozed Rowe on the play as the ball sailed into the net.
D.C. was 1-0-2 in three total meetings (two in league play) in 2018. The two teams met on opening day 2018 and the Lions posted a dramatic late 1-1 draw on Stefano Pinho’s 93rd-minute goal. Orlando went down to 10 men 41 minutes into the match when Brazilian defender PC was sent off. The teams met in U.S. Open Cup action on June 20 of that year at the Maryland SoccerPlex and again drew 1-1, but the Lions advanced to the quarterfinals thanks to a 4-2 penalty shootout win. Luciano Acosta put the hosts ahead but Justin Meram equalized on a rainy night and that was it for the scoring until the shootout. United won that game at Audi Field on Aug. 12, 2018 by a 3-2 score. Cristian Higuita was sent off after video review with 40 minutes remaining. Two other controversial video reviews went D.C.’s way that night as well, and Orlando had a player pulled down while trying to break out in transition late in the game, only to see the play turn around for the winning goal.
Orlando swept the two league meetings in 2017, the teams split two lopsided games in 2016 — with each team winning at home — and the Black and Red went 2-1-0 in the first three meetings back in 2015.
Orlando City is coming off a 0-0 draw at Tigres on Tuesday night in Concacaf Champions League. The Lions got back Wednesday evening and had a quick turnaround against a rested D.C. side. The Lions have yet to score a goal in the run of play in a competitive match in 2023, but did manage a season-high three shots on target in Mexico on Tuesday. That was Orlando City’s first match away from Exploria Stadium this season, so tonight’s game will be the Lions’ first road MLS contest in 2023.
United is 1-0-0 at home after opening the season with a 3-2 win over Toronto FC at Audi Field, but D.C. is coming off a 2-0 loss in its most recent match last weekend in Columbus. And, of course, D.C.’s win turned around a 2-1 deficit to Toronto late, with Christian Benteke equalizing in the 90th minute and Theodore Ku-Dipietro finding a winner in the 98th minute.
The Lions will need to be aware of where Benteke is at all times. The former Crystal Palace, Liverpool, and Aston Villa man has one goal and is the team’s co-leader in shots (4) on the young season. Polish international Mateusz Klich is another D.C. player that Orlando City will need to keep an eye on. Klich also has a goal and four shots on the year. Joining those two Designated Players on the scoresheet this season is Homegrown midfielder Ku-Dipietro, who has a goal and an assist. Iraqi international fullback Mohanad Jeahze has provided danger on the flank with two assists this season, so Mikey Halliday, Kyle Smith, or whoever plays right back tonight will need to be attentive.
“The approach we have is that we want to go to D.C. and get the three points. That’s the first thing we have in our minds and then we have Tigres [again] after that,” Jansson said ahead of the match. “But, the first main objective is to get three points against D.C. on the road. Right now we’re traveling a lot and have a tight schedule, so managing the squad and having everyone ready to be the next man up is very important and we need everyone to get in there and give everything.”
The only player on Orlando City’s availability report heading into the weekend is Homegrown Player Favian Loyola (thigh). Antonio Carlos returned to full training this week and could get his first start of the season, or at least come off the bench. The latter seems more likely as Oscar Pareja would probably like to get him some minutes but also keep him fresh for the second leg against Tigres on Wednesday.
D.C. lists Brendan Hines-Ike (foot), Martin Rodriguez (knee), and Fountas (thigh) as out for tonight.
Mandatory Match Content
- Our Intelligence Report includes information on D.C. United from Sarah Kallassy, managing editor of The District Press.
- This week’s PawedCast has our key match-ups and predictions for the game and it also features our exclusive interview with Orlando Pride Vice President of Soccer Operations and General Manager Haley Carter.
- Our Dave Rohe provided his three keys to victory for Orlando City in this match.
Orlando City (3-4-3)
Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.
Defenders: Abdi Salim, Rodrigo Schlegel, Kyle Smith.
Defensive Midfielders/Wingbacks: Rafael Santos, Wilder Cartagena, Mauricio Pereyra, Ivan Angulo.
Forwards: Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, Duncan McGuire, Facundo Torres.
Bench: Mason Stajduhar, Michael Halliday, Antonio Carlos, Robin Jansson, Cesar Araujo, Felipe, Gaston Gonzalez, Martin Ojeda, Ercan Kara.
D.C. United (4-4-2)
Goalkeeper: Tyler Miller.
Defenders: Mohanad Jeahze, Steven Birnbaum, Derrick Williams, Ruan.
Midfielders: Pedro Santos, Mateusz Klich, Russell Canouse, Chris Durkin.
Forwards: Christian Benteke, Theodore Ku-DiPietro.
Bench: Alex Bono, Donovan Pines, Jacob Greene, Hayden Sargis, Matai Akinmboni, Yamil Asad, Victor Palsson, Jackson Hopkins, Kristian Fletcher.
Ref: Jon Freemon.
AR1: Kyle Atkins.
AR2: Meghan Mullen.
4th: Adam Wienckowski.
VAR: Jorge Gonzalez.
AVAR: Claudiu Badea.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7:30 p.m.
Venue: Audi Stadium — Washington, D.C.
TV/Streaming: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+.
Radio: Real Radio 104.1 FM (English), Acción 97.9 FM, 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!