Welcome to your match thread for a Saturday night match-up between Orlando City (1-0-0, 3 points) and FC Cincinnati (1-0-0, 3 points) at Exploria Stadium (7:30 p.m., MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+). It’s the first of the two scheduled meetings between the teams this season and the only match-up in Florida. The Lions will travel to Cincinnati for the return fixture on Sept. 2.
Here’s what you need to know for the match.
Orlando City leads the all-time series, 3-2-2, with a 2-1-0 mark at home. The Lions have lost two straight in the series after being swept a season ago — FC Cincinnati’s only two wins in the series.
The Lions fell 1-0 at TQL Stadium in the most recent meeting on June 24, 2022. A second-half goal from Brenner represented all the offense but it could have been worse for Orlando City as Pedro Gallese made eight saves in the match. The last meeting in Orlando took place March 12 of last year, with FC Cincinnati notching its first win in the all-time series, 2-1 at Exploria Stadium. The Lions were more in control but were wasteful, despite dominating the stat sheet. The visitors got a brace from Brandon Vazquez to offset Junior Urso’s goal in the 42nd minute.
The final meeting of 2021 was on Oct. 16 in Cincinnati, when Orlando City got its first road victory in the series, 1-0 on Urso’s goal in the 13th minute. Tesho Akindele should have scored a second off the crossbar late in the game, but the play was never reviewed, despite video evidence that the ball was completely across the line.
On Aug. 7, 2021, the match in Cincinnati ended up in a 1-1 draw. Nani’s strike rescued a point after Brenner had opened the scoring for the hosts just before halftime, taking advantage of an obviously injured Uri Rosell, who subbed off moments later. The first of the three meetings in 2021 came on May 21 in Orlando, with the Lions posting a 3-0 win. Akindele scored in the first minute and Nani and Urso each added a goal.
In Orlando’s first trip to the banks of the Ohio River, the match ended in a 1-1 draw at Nippert Stadium on Sept. 29, 2019. Benji Michel’s goal in stoppage time rescued a point for the Lions after Allan Cruz had given the hosts a lead. The draw officially eliminated Orlando City from playoff contention that year, but realistically the Lions had been out of it for a while.
The first ever meeting between the two sides took place on May 19, 2019, when the Lions pummeled the expansion side, 5-1. Both Nani and Akindele bagged braces in the match and Dom Dwyer added a goal as well.
The Lions are 1-0-0 at home this season after last Saturday’s 1-0 victory over the New York Red Bulls. Facundo Torres’ penalty served as all of the game’s scoring. FC Cincinnati is also 1-0-0 on the season after a 2-1 home victory against the Houston Dynamo last weekend. This is Cincy’s first road match of the 2023 season.
Nobody on the current Orlando City roster has scored a goal against FC Cincinnati. Nani, Akindele, and Urso combined for 10 goals in the series but all of them have moved on. The only other two goal-scorers for the Lions against Cincinnati are Dwyer and Michel, who are also elsewhere now. The only current Lion who has had a goal involvement in the series is Torres, who has an assist.
Meanwhile, Brenner and Vazquez have been the danger men for Cincinnati in the series, with a pair of goals each.
FC Cincinnati was a good road team in 2022, posting a 6-4-7 record away from TQL Stadium. The Lions were just 9-8-0 at home last season.
Cincinnati has gifted offensive players who are especially dangerous in transition. Luciano Acosta, Brenner, and Vazquez are perhaps the most dangerous men in the Cincinnati attack, but the team also has added Dominique Badji and Sergio Santos. Orlando will need to be aware of the attacking players at all times because they can make something out of nothing. Vazquez has been clinical since moving to Cincinnati, scoring 18 times a year ago and adding eight assists. Brenner matched his 18 goals and chipped in six assists, while Acosta scored 10 times and set up 19 other goals to lead all MLS players in assists. Acosta is particularly troublesome because he’s good at winning duels and jump-starting the counter attack.
“Cincinnati has changed. Their new coaching staff has provided them with a style of play that is more regular,” Head Coach Oscar Pareja said in his pre-match press conference. “We can see their performances aren’t just regular, but they’ve had success this last year with their young coaches that bring new ideas that you can see on the pitch. In reviewing our matches against them, it gives us a good note on how we can face them this time. We’re very positive, we have good momentum with the boys, and we have in front of us a tough journey, but it’s welcomed by the group. We’re very proud to be on this journey.”
Defender Antonio Carlos (lower leg) and midfielder Favian Loyola (left thigh) are listed as questionable for the Lions. Gaston Gonzalez has returned from abroad and should be available for selection. FC Cincinnati lists Santiago Arias (leg) and Stiven Jimenez (lower body) as questionable.
If Mauricio Pereyra makes an appearance tonight, it will be his 100th competitive appearance across all competitions with Orlando City. He will become the eighth Lion in the MLS era to accomplish that feat.
Mandatory Match Content
- Our Intelligence Report provides more info about FC Cincinnati from Bryan Weigel of Cincinnati Soccer Talk.
- This week’s PawedCast features our key match-ups and score predictions for tonight’s match.
- Our Dave Rohe listed his three keys to an Orlando City victory in this match.
Orlando City (3-4-3)
Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.
Defenders: Kyle Smith, Abdi Salim, Rodrigo Schlegel.
Midfielders/Wingbacks: Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, Mauricio Pereyra, Wilder Cartagena, Michael Halliday.
Forward: Facundo Torres, Ercan Kara, Gaston Gonzalez.
Bench: Mason Stajduhar, Luca Petrasso, Rafael Santos, Robin Jansson, Cesar Araujo, Felipe, Ivan Angulo, Martin Ojeda, Duncan McGuire.
FC Cincinnati (3-4-1-2)
Goalkeeper: Roman Celentano.
Defenders: Yerson Mosquera, Matt Miazga, Nick Hagglund.
Midfielders/wingbacks: Alvaro Barreal, Junior Moreno, Obinna Nwobodo, Ray Gaddis.
Attacking Midfielder: Luciano Acosta.
Forwards: Brenner, Brandon Vazquez.
Bench: Alec Kann, Alvas Powell, Ian Murphy, Malik Pinto, Marco Angulo, Yuya Kubo, Arquimides Ordonez, Sergio Santos, Dominique Badji.
Ref: Ismail Elfath.
AR1: Cory Richardson.
AR2: Walt Heatherly.
4th: Elvis Osmanovic.
VAR: Sorin Stoica.
AVAR: TJ Zablocki.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7:30 p.m.
Venue: Exploria Stadium — Orlando.
TV/Streaming: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+.
Radio: FM 96.9 The Game (English), Accion 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!