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Intelligence Report: Orlando City at New York City FC, Round 2

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The real question for this Sunday’s showdown between Orlando City and New York City FC in the Bronx is who exactly is going to be in the lineup for the visitors. With David Mateos and Cristian Higuita suspended, Kaká on his way to fill in for Douglas Costa on Brazil’s Copa America squad, and a few lingering injuries (Seb Hines, Darwin Ceren), we could see an unusual lineup, a change in formation, or both.

The Lions will try to make it three straight games without a loss but any kind of result has to be looked upon in wonder. After all, Orlando City will be playing its third game in nine days. The lineup will be patchwork and filled with tired legs, and the opponents are 1) at home, 2) on a week’s rest, and 3) furious with last week’s 7-0 home loss to the Red Bulls. They’ve had to sit with that 7-0 defeat eating their souls for a solid week. It’s safe to say there will be plenty of effort given by the hosts tomorrow at Yankee Stadium.

Here again to give us the New York City FC story is Jake Gofman from SB Nation’s NYC blog, Hudson River Blue. If you’d like to see how I answered their queries, you can do that here (note: I sent my responses to them prior to Kaká being called up to the Brazilian Copa America squad, so…yeah).

Since Orlando City and NYCFC last met, the Blues have put together sufficient results to climb among the East’s leaders while the Lions have won once in the last eight outings. What’s behind New York City’s surprising early season results?

Jake Gofman: We got a similar question from Once a Metro last week and you can imagine the joy I expressed in answering that question prior to getting drubbed by Red Bulls. I’m going to try to be more even keel answering you here. I think our five-game unbeaten streak going into that Red Bulls game was something I felt was coming based off of our performances in the early part of the season. We had some good showings early on, out-possessing and out-shooting our opposition, but we had a very difficult time converting.

We had a stretch where we went winless over seven matches, drawing four times and losing three, and in that stretch we were never out-possessed or shot. We averaged 59% of the possession in those games and took 48 more shots than our opponents. Of course, there were games where we were behind and therefore had to shoot more and possess the ball more, but I think in general we were the more dangerous team often.

I think what’s behind our ascendency is a level of comfort now with the formation, personnel, and coach. There are always going to be growing pains with a new coach, and I think a lot of the tactical moves Vieira made needed to be borne out against real competition. There was a healthy amount of tinkering with our team to find the right combinations of players to make it all work. It hasn’t all come together just yet, but I think the talent and tactics are beginning to shine through.

Despite the bright start for NYCFC, last week happened. What on Earth happened last week to allow the New York Red Bulls to romp 7-0 at Yankee Stadium?

JG: Oh boy, I know I’m going to have to answer for this for the next few weeks with every blog, but it doesn’t mean it’s not going to hurt every time.

RBNY destroyed us last week, and has outplayed us in every game of our “rivalry” so far for two reasons: they are a perfect foil to our strategy, and they are proficient in set pieces — something we cannot defend whatsoever. There’s a more complete version of this on our site.

Our strategy since the start has been to play an aesthetically pleasing brand of build-up soccer. Kreis had us playing it last year, and Vieira has us going all out, with a play-out-of-the-back-at-all-costs style. That requires some of our less skilled players (Saunders, Hernandez, Brillant, etc.) to have the ball at their feet constantly while under pressure. Teams in MLS have responded to our strategy by pressing high, but NYC gets away with it because those teams are not pressing teams. Insert Red Bulls, who employ a full-team, high press style of play against all MLS teams. Because they play this style against all clubs, it helps them really take it to a team like NYCFC, who at times can be stubborn. We lost the ball a lot out of the back on Saturday, and I expect that trend to continue if we don’t make a change next time we play.

The other thing that kills us against Red Bulls is our miserable defending on set pieces. We’ve dropped points in each of the last two seasons because of this deficiency, and this past week we gave up two goals to Dax McCarty, all 5-foot-9 of him. Both of these flaws — being susceptible to high pressure and being incapable of defending set pieces — hurt us mightily when we go up against Red Bulls.

Obviously the Frank Lampard saga continued this week. Let’s forget the off-field stuff. How do you expect Patrick Vieira to utilize him moving forward and will he play a role this weekend?

JG: That is a good question, because it’s been hard to see into Vieira’s plan for Frankie this year. He is, for all intents and purposes, healthy and capable of contributing. He came on as a substitute in our loss to Red Bulls, which was probably not the smartest time to introduce him to our fans, who were not so happy at the time. He should be part of the team that is available for Sunday’s contest, but I’m pretty sure he does not start, yet.

I think Frank will feature throughout this season in a role similar to what Pirlo is playing, however, I don’t expect the two to play together all that much given their defensive deficiencies. We may go back to a formation we were experimenting with that had three at the back, in which case I could see the two on the field together (although I wouldn’t like it). I think Vieira hopes Lamps has enough in the tank to contribute to the attack, especially in playing smart balls, controlling the play in the opponent’s third, and finishing when he gets the chance. Whether or not any of the Frank Lampard from the EPL exists is still a big question that will be answered as he begins to get more playing time.

Any suspensions/injuries we should know about? What’s your expected starting XI and score prediction?

JG: No injuries and suspensions to my knowledge, but one NYC player is gone for Copa America: Ronald Matarrita.

I think we return to the 3-4-3 W-M formation this week: Eirik Johansen; Jason Hernandez, Frederic Brillant, Andoni Iraola; Andrea Pirlo, Federico Bravo, Kwadwo Poku, Thomas McNamara; Steven Mendoza, David Villa, Khiry Shelton.

I see NYC rebounding from their loss to RBNY with a 2-1 victory. Villa and Shelton nab a goal each for NYCFC, while Larin scores one for the bad guys. (Editor’s note: So…you’re calling a Larin own-goal?)

* * *

Big thanks to Jake from HRB for giving us some insight on Orlando City’s fellow 2015 expansion side.

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Chicago Fire: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More

The Lions look to bounce back on the road with a midweek visit to Chicago.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Welcome to your match thread and preview for a midweek matchup between Orlando City (4-6-4, 16 points) and the Chicago Fire (2-8-5, 11 points) at Soldier Field (8:30 p.m., MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+). This is the first of the two scheduled meetings between the Eastern Conference rivals in 2024 and the only matchup in Chicago. The teams are scheduled to meet in Orlando in a few weeks on June 22.

Here’s what you need to know about the match.

History

The Lions are 7-5-6 in 18 MLS meetings with the Fire and 7-6-6 in all competitions. Orlando City is 3-3-3 against the Fire on the road in MLS play and 3-4-2 away in all competitions.

The Lions swept the two-game season series in 2023 by identical 3-1 scorelines. In the most recent meeting between the sides, the Lions got goals from Wilder Cartagena, Ivan Angulo, and Facundo Torres (from the penalty spot) to overcome a 1-0 deficit supplied by Mauricio Pineda, winning 3-1 on the road.

When the teams met in Orlando, the Lions rode a Torres brace to a 3-1 win on July 1. Xherdan Shaqiri pulled a goal back from the penalty spot after a Kyle Smith foul in the box against Brian Gutierrez, but Ramiro Enrique added an insurance goal.

Orlando City claimed a 1-0 victory at Exploria Stadium on April 9, 2022 on Ercan Kara’s first MLS goal. The two sides met at Soldier Field just over a month prior to that match and played, officially, to a 0-0 draw on March 5. The game is another Orlando City match that will live in infamy due to the Professional Referee Organization’s statement after the game that Junior Urso’s goal should not have been overturned upon video review by Ismir Pekmic due to Kara not having clearly and obviously handled the ball in the buildup in any of the available replay angles. Alas…

The teams met in Orlando on Aug. 21, 2021, with a second-half Benji Michel strike lifting the Lions to a 1-0 victory. Tesho Akindele set up the play by forcing a turnover. In that year’s meeting at Soldier Field, the Fire got the better of the Lions to the tune of 3-1 on July 7. Andres Perea scored his first career MLS goal to open the scoring, but a defensive lapse in first-half stoppage allowed Boris Sekulic to equalize just before the break. Chicago rode that momentum, adding goals by Robert Beric and Chinonso Offor.

The Lions were 0-4-4 in the eight meetings before smashing the Fire 4-1 in Orlando on Sept. 19, 2020. Orlando City withstood two Chicago penalties and saw two Fire goals overturned by video review in that rain-soaked match. (Weird things usually happen when Chicago visits Orlando.) The Lions got goals from Chris Mueller, Nani, Urso, and Michel, while Chicago had only a Beric penalty to show for an otherwise good offensive performance.

The last meeting of 2019 was the last time the Fire won on the road in the series. It was a debacle for the Lions, who lost defender Robin Jansson to a back/neck injury early and shipped a handful of goals in a 5-2 home loss in the regular-season finale. Orlando got goals from Akindele and Michel but largely played like a team that couldn’t wait to end its season. Chicago got an own goal from Orlando’s Smith and strikes from CJ Sapong, Aleksandar Katai, and Przemyslaw Frankowski (twice) in the rout.

Orlando City was seconds away from a road win on March 9, 2019 before Sapong’s free header in the 95th minute leveled things in a 1-1 draw in Chicago. Dom Dwyer scored Orlando’s goal.

In 2018, the Fire swept the season series. Orlando fell 2-1 at home on May 26, 2018, with Alan Gordon’s wondergoal breaking a 1-1 deadlock. The return leg in Chicago that September was an abysmal performance by Orlando in a 4-0 Fire victory.

Chicago went 1-0-1 in 2017, with the teams playing to a 0-0 draw on June 4, 2017, with the Lions reduced to nine men. The previous 2017 meeting was the Fire’s 4-0 beatdown of Orlando on June 24 of that year. David Accam figured in all four goals, with a hat trick and an assist on Nemanja Nikolić’s goal.

The teams split the points in 2016, drawing both meetings. Cyle Larin and Accam traded goals in a 1-1 draw in Orlando on March 11. The Fire again came from behind to draw, 2-2 in the return leg that August.

The teams met once in Orlando in 2015, with the Lions and Fire battling to a 1-1 draw. You may recall that five-hour, weather-delayed affair with Eric Gehrig’s own-goal canceling out an Accam strike. The other three meetings came in Chicago, with City winning 3-2 and 1-0 in MLS matches and falling 3-1 in U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal action.

Overview

The Lions are coming off a controversial 2-0 home loss to the Columbus Crew on Saturday that saw an Orlando City penalty reviewed and a penalty awarded instead to the Crew for a soft call on Cesar Araujo at the other end more than a minute earlier. The play also cleared Diego Rossi of any wrongdoing on what appeared to be a clear foul in the attacking phase of play that preceded the Araujo foul. Rossi added a second goal in transition and sealed the fate of a wasteful Lions team that struggled to split the difference (again) between hitting the goalkeeper squarely and missing the net entirely.

That loss snapped Orlando’s three-game unbeaten run and dropped the Lions to a dismal 1-4-3 at home. The good news is that City is 3-2-1 away from home this season and 3-0-1 in its last four road matches.

Chicago has struggled in 2024, but both of the team’s wins have come at home, where the Fire are just 2-5-1 in eight games. The Fire are coming off a 1-1 road draw against D.C. United over the weekend, which extended Chicago’s current winless streak to eight matches (0-5-3). Leading the Chicago offense are Hugo Cuypers and Brian Gutierrez, who each have three goals and an assist on the season. Attacking midfielders Xherdan Shaqiri and Fabian Herbers have each chipped in two goals and two assists on the season, while USMNT midfielder Kellyn Acosta has two goals and an assist.

“I see a team as well that is changing things. Their structure in the last game has been modified,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said ahead of the match. “We are adapting to those things. Pretty much thinking, if we have that optimism and think about our team, we can get our result. They are probably more direct than Columbus and they have good players. We have to be very crafty to penetrate and not let up. That’s what we asked of our players.”

The Lions list Mikey Halliday (knee), Duncan McGuire (shoulder), and Tahir Reid-Brown (thigh) as out on the availability report, but the club did show a photo of McGuire getting on the plane Tuesday.

Match Content


Projected Lineups

Orlando City (3-5-2)

Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.

Defenders: Rodrigo Schlegel, Wilder Cartagena, David Brekalo.

Wingbacks/Midfielders: Facundo Torres, Nico Lodeiro, Cesar Araujo, Ivan Angulo, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson.

Forwards: Luis Muriel, Jack Lynn.

Chicago Fire (4-4-2 Diamond)

Goalkeeper: Chris Brady

Defenders: Andrew Gutman, Rafa Czichos, Carlos Teran, Allan Arigoni.

Midfielders: Federico Navarro, Mauricio Pineda, Brian Guitierrez, Kellyn Acosta.

Forwards: Tom Barlow, Hugo Cuypers.

Referees

REF: Malik Badawi.
AR1: Justin Howard.
AR2: Kali Smith.
4TH: Calin Radosav.
VAR: Edvin Jurisevic.
AVAR: Jonathan Johnson.


How to Watch

Match Time: 8:30 p.m.

Venue: Soldier Field — Chicago.

TV/Streaming: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+.

Radio: FM 96.9 The Game (English), Mega 97.1 FM (Spanish).

Twitter: For rapid reaction and live updates, follow along at @TheManeLand, as well as Orlando City’s official Twitter feed (@OrlandoCitySC).


Enjoy the game. Go City!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/29/24

Orlando City faces the Chicago Fire tonight, Kaká to be honored, Pride linked to Grace Chanda, and more.

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Nick Leyva, The Mane Land

Welcome to Wednesday, Mane Landers. It’s match day for Orlando City as the Lions travel to the Windy City to take on the Chicago Fire. Orlando City looks to get back to its winning ways in the midweek matchup and we will have all the coverage you need during the match on our Twitter account, and after the match right here at The Mane Land.

We would also like to wish Orlando Pride Head Coach Seb Hines a very happy birthday! Frankly, it’s the least we can do given everything he has done so far this NWSL season. For now, let’s get to the links.

Lions Prepare for the Fire

Orlando City faces the Chicago Fire tonight at 8:30 p.m. at Soldier Field. The Lions will look to extend a three-match winning streak over the Fire. Facundo Torres has been particularly effective against Chicago, so hopefully he can start scoring some more goals as well. We will have our match preview a little later today.

Kaká to Become First Member of Legends Terrace at Inter&Co Stadium

Orlando City and the Orlando Pride are creating a “Legends Terrace” at Inter&Co Stadium to permanently honor those who have made a lasting impact with either club. Unsurprisingly, the first inductee will be the one and only Kaká. The ceremony will take place following the July 6 match against D.C. United. There will also be a concert featuring Latin performer Jota Quest in the Publix Mane Street Plaza outside the stadium prior to the match.

Orlando Pride Linked With Grace Chanda

Do you like Barbra Banda and what she has done since joining the Pride? Do you find yourself wondering, “got anymore of those Zambian strikers?” Well, it just so happens that the Orlando Pride are reportedly interested in signing Zambian forward Grace Chanda. According to the report, the San Diego Wave, Racing Louisville, and the Pride are all interested in signing Chanda. Given the Pride are serious about contending for a title this season, adding another quality attacker is a good move. Let’s hope the rumor is true.

Pride’s Summer Cup Schedule Adjusted

The Olympics won’t be the only women’s soccer competition this summer, as the inaugural NWSL x LIGA MX Femenil Summer Cup will start on July 19. We have learned that the Orlando Pride match against C.F. Monterrey at Inter&Co Stadium has been moved up from Sunday, July 28 to Saturday, July 27. The move does not affect Orlando City’s schedule, as the Lions play a rare Friday match that week. You can check out more information on the competition here.

Free Kicks

  • I know that there are those who are upset with the Leagues Cup as it definitely impacted the U.S. Open Cup this year. However, if you do decide to go to a match, at least part of the ticket price will go to a good cause.
  • Congratulations to Felipe. That is a lot of matches and we appreciate him being with our beloved Orlando City.
  • Congratulations also go out to Orlando City academy player Camilio Guerrero for earning a call-up to a U.S. U-14 national talent identification camp.
  • USMNT winger Tim Weah is making money moves in the Big Apple.

That will do it for today. We will see you on the other side of the match tonight. Vamos Orlando!

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Lion Links

Lion Links: 5/28/24

Yutaro Tsukada earns recognition, Americans in midweek action, European coaching updates, and more.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City B

Happy Tuesday, everyone! I hope you all had a restful holiday weekend, and if you didn’t, then I hope you’re well on the way to recovery. We’ve got an exciting schedule this week, with two Orlando City games before an Orlando City B game on Sunday. It’s also OCB forward Yeiler Valencia’s birthday today, so let’s wish him well and jump into today’s links!

Yutaro Tsukada Earns MLS NEXT Pro Honors

OCB winger Yutaro Tsukada was named MLS NEXT Pro Player of Matchweek 11 for his performance in the team’s 5-0 home win against Huntsville City FC. The 22-year-old provided the assist on OCB’s first goal after using some nice skill on the ball to shake his defender. Tsukada then scored a goal of his own off of a free kick in the second half. The rookie has been electric for the Young Lions this season, recording four goals and four assists so far. Hopefully he can keep the momentum rolling when OCB faces Inter Miami II this Sunday.

Major League Soccer Stock Watch

Every week gives us a better idea of each MLS team’s capabilities, so let’s check in on how things are looking following the latest matchday. LAFC is on a great trajectory, as it’s won three consecutive league games and five straight in all competitions. Elsewhere in the Western Conference, Real Salt Lake scored three goals in the final 30 minutes of play to stretch its unbeaten streak to 11 games, and Cristian Arango didn’t have to do all of the heavy lifting. At the other end of things, the New England Revolution have lost three straight games, and six of their last seven. Likewise, the shine looks to have worn off from St. Louis City’s expansion season, as the team has also lost three straight games and simply doesn’t look the same as last year.

Americans in Midweek Action

With most of the European club seasons having concluded, there aren’t as many United States Men’s National Team players in action during the working week, but there are still some important games to make note of. Chief among those is Venezia’s game against Cremonese on Thursday. Tanner Tessmann, Gianluca Busio and Venezia will take on Cremonese over two legs, with the winner gaining promotion to Serie A. Left back Jonathan Gomez may take the field tomorrow morning in Real Sociedad’s friendly against Tokyo Verde as well.

In a pair of friendlies on Friday, Mexico plays Bolivia and Uruguay takes on Costa Rica. With the USMNT set to face both Bolivia and Uruguay in group play of this summer’s Copa America, the two matches present a good chance to better gauge the Yanks’ opponents.

European Coaching Updates

Several notable European club teams have coaching vacancies to fill this summer, and there are some updates on a few of those positions. Chelsea has reportedly made an approach for Leicester City’s Enzo Maresca, and has requested permission to talk to the manager who guided the Foxes back to the Premier League in his first year with the club. Meanwhile, despite interest from Manchester United, Kieran McKenna is reportedly set to stay at Ipswich Town, and has had talks about extending his contract. Finally, Aston Villa has extended Unai Emery’s contract, with his new deal keeping him at the club until 2029.

Transfer Rumor Roundup

Transfer season is kicking into gear, and we have several rumors to sift through this morning. Up first, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United, Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich are reportedly all in hot pursuit of Stade Rennais winger Desire Doue. Casemiro reportedly has a deal lined up with a team in the Saudi Pro League, and may have played his last game for Manchester United. Newly promoted Southampton is reportedly interested in signing Adam Lallana as a free agent. Finally, Paris Saint-Germain is said to have entered the race to sign Bruno Guimaraes, and will face stiff competition from Manchester City and Arsenal.

Free Kicks


That’s all I have for you this morning. Vamos Orlando!

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