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Orlando City vs. Atlanta United: Final Score 3-1 as Lions Get First Win Over Five Stripes

Junior Urso, Chris Mueller, and Nani supplied the offense and Orlando stayed organized in a deserved road win.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Junior Urso, Chris Mueller, and Nani scored to serve as exorcists, banishing the Atlanta United demons in a deserved 3-1 road win by the Lions at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Despite being the team on fewer days of rest, Orlando City (4-2-2, 14 points) showed good energy on the press and in transition and defended well overall to finally beat Atlanta United (3-4-0, 9 points).

Mueller and Urso also added assists in the match.

The Lions won their second straight match and first true road game this season, and Orlando improved to 1-6-2 in the all-time league series against Atlanta — 1-7-2 in all competitions — and 1-2-2 at Atlanta. Now that Orlando has bloodied Atlanta, maybe this series can become a rivalry.

Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the game that he was happy about the team’s commitment and energy on a short turnaround.

“The three points are the most important for the motivation,” he said. “This is the first time we beat Atlanta so we’re happy. We keep going.”

Pareja made four changes to his usual lineup, starting Pedro Gallese in net behind a back line of Joao Moutinho, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, and Kyle Smith. The defensive midfield consisted of Uri Rosell and Andres Perea, behind an attacking midfield of Benji Michel, Urso, and Mueller, with Dike up top for the third consecutive match. Ruan, Sebas Mendez, and Nani started on the bench, with Mauricio Pereyra not in the 18 and Tesho Akindele not available for selection for the second consecutive match.

“It’s good news for all, knowing they took the responsibility against a very difficult rival and on a very difficult turf,” Pareja said of his young players starting in the attack. “And they had that character to come out and play that game that way. The young boys today showed the future is bright here. And the core of the players who have been getting results before, we had the opportunity to rest some of them and the boys came in and took that responsibility.”

Dike fired a shot across Atlanta’s bow in the first minute, skipping a shot just wide to the left. The rookie had a couple of players breaking and may have been better served to slip someone through but he didn’t miss by much. The Lions showed early on that they weren’t going to press as persistently as usual on short rest, instead hanging back and taking away options for goalkeeper Brad Guzan and his defenders when they tried to play out of the back.

“Today it was probably too much to ask the boys to go and press all the time,” Pareja said, due to the fixture congestion, traveling and quick turnaround. “So we considered that just giving them the ball sometimes will help us just to save some energy. That’s why I want to remark [about] the discipline defensively of the team. We knew that they would give us some space in the back and we took that.

Atlanta started to control the game about three minutes in and did so for about a solid five minutes, resulting in the game’s first corner. Brooks Lennon got onto the corner kick cross with a thunderous header but Gallese reached out one of his eight arms and made a spectacular goal-line save to keep it scoreless. The play was checked by VAR to see if it had crossed the line but it had not.

Orlando finally regained the ball and earned its own first corner in the 13th minute. Mueller sent in a perfect ball for Urso, who smashed a low header that skipped off the turf in front of Guzan and squirted through his legs for the opening goal — Urso’s first in MLS.

Urso sent a shot from outside the box just a bit wide in the 18th minute as Orlando got more of a hold on the match. Dike won a corner shortly thereafter and Mueller’s delivery found Carlos but the Brazilian was spinning a bit in the run-up and couldn’t make good contact, sending his header over in the 21st minute.

Atlanta’s Manuel Castro got his side’s second good look of the half just seconds later, dragging a shot wide of Gallese’s goal.

Perea fizzed a wicked cross through the top of the six in the 29th minute, but none of his teammates could get onto it. Then Dike won another corner off a good buildup when he took a pass from Michel and had his shot blocked behind. Atlanta cleared Mueller’s service, and as Moutinho was bringing the ball back into the area, the whistle blew for a foul on Urso, but it just looked like two Atlanta players collided with each other.

No matter, after a brief pause for the trainers to come out, Orlando scored its second. Moutinho won a ball off Guzan’s ensuing restart, sending his header to Mueller, who gathered and sent it forward to Dike in the middle. The rookie smartly played to his right for Michel and the second-year Homegrown wisely cut a pass back to Mueller, who had never stopped his run. Mueller finished into the empty net to make it 2-0 in the 35th. Mueller’s career-high sixth of the season — the most on Orlando — was a great way for the winger to celebrate his 24th birthday.

“I looked up and I thought that I was going to have a go at the outside back actually,” Mueller said about the play. “I looked up and I saw Daryl finding some space in between the two center backs, so I picked out a pass to him, and I saw that he turned and laid back [a pass] and I just continued my run and I was screaming to Benji for the ball back across because the space was so wide open and I was right there. And he found me so well and laid one on a platter and gave me the best birthday present I could have asked for.”

It was nearly Michel to Mueller again in the 41st as Benji got to the end line and crossed for Mueller, who was crashing the back post. Guzan stuck out a foot to knock the cross behind for a corner. The Lions should have made it 3-0 on the set piece, with Perea getting a free running header on the back side of the play but he sent his shot agonizingly wide of the net in the 42nd minute.

Atlanta failed to do much with a pair of late set pieces and the teams went to the break with the Lions ahead, 2-0. Orlando led in shots (7-4) and shots on goal (2-1), with both teams completing 84% of their passes and Atlanta holding a slim possession advantage (51.5%).

The Five Stripes dominated possession in the second half. Orlando stayed organized and looked for counter opportunities, coming close a few times before finally getting a late insurance goal.

Pity Martinez was dangerous throughout the second half, shooting from everywhere and nearly breaking in behind the defense multiple times. Jansson denied him getting in alone with a vital tackle early in the second half and good team defending prevented him getting a shot off in the box a few minutes later.

Lennon got off a glancing header in the 55th minute off a corner kick but it was well off target. Martinez then sent in either a shot or a cross. Gallese came off his line to grab it before being fouled by Adam Jahn.

Atlanta continued to look for offense and brought Cubo Torres and Ezequiel Barco on in the 60th minute. Orlando, which had been struggling to keep possession, brought on Nani and Sebas Mendez for Dike and an exhausted-looking Rosell.

Nani quickly got involved, getting whistled for a foul after taking an elbow from Torres that split his lip open. That led to a prolonged spell of possession and set pieces in the attacking third for Atlanta. Gallese made a good play to get up and tip a dangerous shot from Barco over the bar in the 66th minute.

The Lions finally got forward and won a counter shortly after that and this time the cross found Jansson at the near post but his flick skipped wide of the far post in the 69th minute on what would have been a nice goal for the Beefy Swede.

Disaster struck for Orlando in the 75th minute. Mendez headed a ball back toward his own goal and Gallese had time and space to come out and pick it up. Either Moutinho didn’t hear the Octopus calling him off or he just wanted to be safe, and the Portuguese left back sent an emphatic clearance out of play but was injured in the process. He was in obvious pain and holding his groin area and had to be stretchered off the field. Kamal Miller came on to replace him.

Michel put the ball in the net on a quick counter in the 81st minute but he was correctly ruled offside and the game remained at 2-0. That only lasted two more minutes, as the Five Stripes took advantage of Moutinho’s replacement.

Second-half sub Jurgen Damm received the ball on the right for Atlanta and faked toward the end line, then faked back the other way. Miller overplayed to block the cross and Damm went back toward the end line to get his cross in cleanly. Lennon peeled back off of Smith and looped a header inside the post to make it 2-1 in the 83rd minute.

Ruan nearly pulled that goal back a minute later, getting a touch to a good cross right in front, but it skipped wide of the post. But the Lions sealed the game two minutes later. The Atlanta defense played the ball to Martinez, who had been dropping deep to get on the ball and start the attack. Urso recognized this as his moment and pounced, dispossessing Martinez and breaking in on goal. As Guzan faced him up, Nani called for the ball on the left and Urso slid it over for the captain to finish. His third of the season made it 3-1 in the 86th minute.

“I know he don’t like when we pressure behind him,” Urso said of Martinez. “So I just waited for a good moment to try to take the ball, to recover the ball for us. When the defender gave it to him I knew it was a good moment to take the ball for us. So I tried to take it. And when I was in front of the keeper, if Nani doesn’t ask me, 100% I will shoot because I have a good position to score. But when I heard his voice, I know he’s free so I have to think about the team first. So I passed to Nani and he was happy and scored one more goal for us.”

“Today’s performance from Junior — not starting the last game — was incredible and another level of commitment from the team,” Pareja said.

The Lions got a scare in the 88th minute when Carlos cleared a bouncing ball, jumping high into the air. After the clearance, Lennon collided with the Brazilian’s foot and went down. The referee went over to review the replay but ruled that it was a legal play by Orlando City’s center back and no penalty was given.

From there, Orlando survived a few Atlanta set pieces, a shot off the crossbar by Barco in the 96th minute, and 10 minutes of stoppage time. The Lions heard the whistle and finally had their first win of the series.

Atlanta finished with more shots (11-10), shots on target (4-3), possession (61.3%), and corners (9-6), and out-passed Orlando (86%-79%). But the Lions made the most of enough of their opportunities to get the victory.

“It was a tough grind,” Mueller said. “I think that we put in a really good team performance. Obviously we had some guys rotated in there and I think everybody from top to bottom played an unbelievable game and I’m just so happy for the guys as well.”


It’s another quick turnaround for Orlando as the Lions will make the trip to Tennessee to face Nashville SC away on Wednesday night.

Orlando City

Orlando City vs. New York City FC: Five Takeaways

What did we learn from Orlando City’s 1-1 home draw against NYCFC?

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Orlando City was riding a four-game winning streak when the Lions returned home for their second match of the season against New York City FC. The Lions were looking to avenge their most recent loss, which coincidentally came against the same opponent, however, despite taking the lead in the second half, the team was unable to gain to all three points at home.

The good news is that Orlando City kept its unbeaten streak alive. What follows are our five tawkways from a 1-1 draw.

Squad “Rotation” on the Wing

Despite Orlando playing its third game in eight days, Head Coach Oscar Pareja only made a single change to the lineup, substituting Nicolas Lodeiro for Facundo Torres. This did not cause much of a change in game plan as the veteran midfielder slotted into Torres’ usual position. Lodeiro provided a few quality runs in the first half but was otherwise ineffective in the buildup with his fellow attacking players against a compact and organized NYCFC defense. He was substituted off for Torres in the second half and the Orlando City attack appeared to show a bit more bite with the youthful Designated Player back on the pitch, but that may have less to do with the personnel change than figuring the opponent out, as Lodeiro and Torres finished with virtually the same number of touches (the official stat packet had both with 29, while whoscored.com gave Torres 31 to Lodeiro’s 29). Both players finished with one key pass, while Torres had one off-target shot, while Lodeiro did not record an attempt.

Defensive Struggle

The match wasn’t an advertisement for the excitement of the game of soccer in the first half. There were few shots and even fewer decent chances in the opening 45 minutes. Whether this was an intentional cagey start from both teams, the fact they were playing in the Florida heat in their third matches in eight days, or both, the opening 45 minutes produced only six total shots, and none of them were big chances. Pedro Gallese had to make two saves to Matt Freese’s one. The game was a bit more open in the second half, but both teams’ defenses played well. Cesar Araujo stood out by dispossessing NYCFC’s most dangerous attacking threat, Santiago Rodriguez, on multiple occasions. Araujo finished with four tackles and nine ball recoveries.

Red-Hot Ramiro

Ramiro Enrique kept up his hot streak by putting the Lions ahead in the second half on the slightest of touches. The age-old adage of ‘put the ball on target and good things will happen’ rang true in the 52nd minute on the breakthrough goal of the match. Martin Ojeda drove toward the top of the penalty area and fired the ball on target. A shot that looked to be heading toward an easy block by the defender or a save by Freese deflected off Enrique’s foot, catching the NYCFC goalkeeper leaning the wrong way. The goal gave Orlando a 1-0 lead at the time. Enrique has now scored in four straight matches and the Lions are undefeated over that stretch (3-0-1). While Duncan McGuire is away representing the United States in the Olympics, and with a potential transfer looming during the MLS secondary window, Enrique’s surge couldn’t come at a better time.

Cartagena Coughs Up the Lead

Orlando City didn’t lead long. Just five minutes after Enrique’s opener, the Lions gifted the visitors a tying goal. NYCFC had pressed Orlando high much of the game, and although the Lions mostly figured out how to deal with it, it was Wilder Cartagena’s blind pass just outside his own area that proved costly. The usually secure Peruvian took the ball while facing goal, turned, and sent a blind pass to the right, looking for fullback Dagur Dan Thorhallsson. However, he didn’t account for Rodriguez, who didn’t even have to move to intercept the ball. Rodriguez switched the play quickly to Alonso Martinez on the right, creating an overload against an Orlando defense that thought it was transitioning forward. Martinez played in Hannes Wolf on the right. Pedro Gallese tried to come out and pressure the shot, but Wolf calmly chipped it over the goalkeeper and inside the far post to tie the match in the 57th minute.

Foiled By Freese

Sometimes you simply have to tip your hat to a good performance by the opponent. Saturday night produced such a time, as Orlando City had a couple of good looks that New York City FC’s goalkeeper stopped. Cartagena and Enrique each had a good opportunity denied by good diving stops by Freese, who has excellent lateral movement. Enrique had a good shot at a brace when he blasted a shot from outside the area in the 67th minute. The shot was toward the right side of the net, and Enrique hit it with a lot of pace, but he didn’t quite get it far enough toward the corner. Still, Freese did well to get his left hand to it moving to his left, to keep it out. Cartagena nearly atoned for his giveaway on the tying goal in the 83rd minute, unleashing a cannon toward the bottom left corner in the 83rd minute. This time, Freese made an outstanding stop, fully extending to deflect it just wide of the post. The goalkeeper landed hard on his shoulder and needed treatment before continuing. A final opportunity in the last minute of stoppage by Luis Muriel again was saved by Freese, but the Colombian wasn’t able to generate a lot of power on his spinning shot and it was a more routine stop.

Freese’s performance not only prevented the Lions from taking all three points, but also stopped Orlando City’s streak of multi-goal games at seven, which is a club record.


Orlando City now heads into the All-Star and Leagues Cup break. The above items give the basics of what happened Saturday night in a tight, playoff-style match. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Orlando City vs. New York City FC: Final Score 1-1 as Teams Trade Second-Half Goals

The Lions and Pigeons split the points in a defensive struggle in the Orlando heat.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

The Lions struck first but could only hold the lead for five minutes as Orlando City and New York City FC split the points in a 1-1 draw before an announced crowd of 22,827 at Inter&Co Stadium. Ramiro Enrique scored in his fourth consecutive match for Orlando (9-9-7, 34 points) but a bad giveaway in the defensive third handed Hannes Wolf a chance to equalize for NYCFC (11-9-5, 38 points) in a defensive struggle.

“A big effort from the players after this couple weeks that we have been playing every three days, and I would like to value that effort,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said after the match. “The two teams tried to put a good performance, and from our side in the first half we had control but we were not as dangerous as we were coming in prior games. They kept possession sometimes in their half but not dangerous plays. Second half, it seems we brought more energy and we started creating better chances.”

Pareja made just one change from the squad that beat Nashville SC 3-0 on the road Wednesday, dropping Facundo Torres to the bench and starting Nico Lodeiro. Pedro Gallese started in goal behind a back line of Rafael Santos, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, and Dagur Dan Thorhallsson. Cesar Araujo and Wilder Cartagena started in central midfield behind an attacking line of Ivan Angulo, Lodeiro, and Martin Ojeda, with Enrique up top.

The first half was a defensive battle and probably not a match you’d use to change a soccer skeptic’s mind about the sport. With both teams playing their third match in eight days and the oppressive Central Florida heat, the teams tried to stay organized and wait for the other to make a mistake. As a result, there were no scoring chances of any kind in the first quarter of an hour.

Ojeda sent in a cross to Enrique in the 17th minute that had a lot of pace on it and the latter could only redirect it weakly toward goal. It wasn’t even technically a shot attempt. In the 22nd minute, Lodeiro sent a good ball from the right to the back post. Angulo got to it first but had no angle to shoot and put it into the outside netting.

Alonso Martinez fired New York City FC’s first shot from outside the box a minute later. It had a ton of power behind it but Gallese was able to fight it off.

Ojeda nearly picked out Enrique right in front from the left in the 27th minute but the ball was a bit too far out in front and Matt Freese pounced on it.

Just after the hydration break, Wolf got in behind Thorhallsson in the 34th minute down the left channel. He sent a good shot toward the back post but Gallese made the save, pushing the rebound out wide.

Two minutes later, Angulo cut in from the left and sent a shot toward the near post. Freese made the save and didn’t give up much of a rebound. The Colombian may have been better served to go for the far post.

That was the last half chance for either side in the scoreless opening period.

Orlando City had the halftime advantage in possession (56.7%-43.3%) and shot attempts (4-2), but the visitors held the edge in shots on target (2-1), corners (1-0), and passing accuracy (87.4%-86.3%).

Facundo Torres subbed on for Lodeiro to start the second half, but the visitors created the first clear-cut chance after the break. Keaton Parks got in behind Angulo and he and Santos couldn’t recover in time to prevent a good cutback pass into the area. No one was on Santiago Rodriguez — NYCFC’s biggest offensive threat — but the Uruguayan fired his shot over the bar from about 12 yards out in the 47th minute.

The Lions broke the deadlock five minutes later. Ojeda cut inside from the right and sent a shot toward goal that redirected off Enrique’s foot and caught Freese leaning the wrong way. The ball trickeled into the net near the right post and Orlando led 1-0 in the 52nd minute. It was Enrique’s fourth goal in as many games.

“It always makes me happy to score a goal,” Enrique said. “As a striker, it’s really important to be able to score, but I think tonight we leave the game with a little bit of a sour taste in our mouth, because we felt like we had that game and that we should have won.”

The lead lasted only five minutes. Cartagena’s howler of a turnover on a blind pass just outside his own penalty area went right to NYCFC’s Rodriguez, and the Pigeons paid off the short counterattack as the ball was slipped in to Wolf by Martinez, who chipped it into the far corner and out of Gallese’s reach to make it 1-1 in the 57th minute.

“We have the game one-zero. It is something this year that has been a challenge for us to open the games. And then this goal we conceded. This is why we have that sensation of frustration for us, that it was not that they did a lot of stuff to tie the game.”

NYCFC nearly took the lead a few minutes later on a simple long ball over the top that caught Santos napping. Mitja Ilenic blazed past the Brazilian and sent a chip shot similar to Wolf’s, but missed the target in the 62nd minute.

Torres cut inside on his left foot and fired in the 66th minute but pulled his shot to the right of the post. Enrique then fired a blast from outside the area in the 67th minute and Freese made a good save.

New York City was content to be physical when threatened by Orlando’s attacking players. The visitors finished with 20 fouls to the Lions’ 11 and ended the game with more yellow cards (4-1) as well. Strahinja Tanasijevic and Wolf were booked a minute apart for roughing up Ojeda and Torres, respectively.

Santos got away with a terrible turnover in his end in the 75th minute, hustling back into position to block Rodriguez’s shot just wide of the left post.

Cartagena nearly made up for his earlier mistake in the 83rd minute when he blasted a shot on target from long range. Freese was able to get over and make a diving, one-handed save on the play and needed treatment to his shoulder after hitting the ground hard.

The Lions were able to deal with several NYCFC set-piece opportunities down the stretch without too much trouble and the game went into eight minutes of injury time.

The only real opportunity in stoppage time fell to second-half sub Luis Muriel in the 98th minute. Just inside the top of the box, the ball cycled around and found Muriel in the middle. He turned and fired but didn’t get a lot of power on it and Freese was able to make the save.

That was that, and the teams had to settle for a draw.

The Lions finished with the advantage in possession (55%-45%), shots (12-8), and shots on target (5-3). Corners were even (5-5), and NYCFC passed slightly more accurately (84.9%-83.5%).

“Tough game,” Jansson said. “Two teams that really wanted it. I think that New York was a little bit better in the first half and we were a little bit better in the second, getting some good chances, and it was a tough opponent today. They did well. It’s always hard to play them. But overall, I think coming from a game two days ago and going into this one, I think we did a great job.”

The Lions’ four-game winning streak is over, but the unbeaten run stretched to five matches.

“We walk (away) with a bit of frustration, but as well with a lot of pride of what the boys have done,” Pareja said. “They have been the best team in Major League Soccer the last several games, knowing today that in front of our fans we should have won it. But we’ll carry that. We need to have energy for the next tournament and pause (of) the league, knowing that we are in a good moment and a good momentum, and I want to give that credit to the players that really have changed the story of our season so far.”


The Leagues Cup break is now upon us. Orlando City will next play at home next Friday against CF Montreal at 8 p.m.

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Orlando City vs. New York City FC: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More

The Lions look to keep rolling but host the last team to beat them.

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Image courtesy of Orlando City SC / Mark Thor

Welcome to your match thread and preview for a Saturday night matchup between Orlando City (9-9-6, 33 points) and New York City FC (11-9-4, 37 points) at Inter&Co Stadium (7:30 p.m., MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+). This is the second and final scheduled meeting between the Lions and Pigeons this season after the teams met in the Bronx a few weeks ago.

Here is what you need to know ahead of the match.

History

The Lions are 7-9-7 in 23 meetings with NYCFC in the all-time series in MLS play and 7-9-9 including one playoff match and one U.S. Open Cup meeting (remember, games that go to penalty shootouts in knockout competitions officially count as draws), so the series between the two 2015 expansion sides has proven to be a competitive one. Orlando is 4-2-5 in home regular-season games in the all-time series and 4-2-7 at home in all competitions. Orlando City also beat NYCFC in the greater Orlando area in 2020 in the MLS is Back Tournament, although that was not in the Lions’ home stadium.

The Lions and Pigeons met at Yankee Stadium just a few weeks back on June 28, with New York City FC winning 4-2. An early Santiago Rodriguez goal opened the scoring and then things went horribly wrong when an obviously offside Malachi Jones collided hard with Orlando goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar. Both players left the game and both had season-ending surgery to repair broken tibias and fibulas. Javier Otero made his MLS debut in goal off the bench and the Lions allowed two goals in first-half stoppage time to let a close game get out of hand. Orlando pulled two goals back through Dagur Dan Thorhallsson and Duncan McGuire, but Mounsef Bakrar sealed the game late for NYCFC.

The lteams met was at Citi Field — a different baseball stadium than NYCFC’s usual one — on Sept. 20, 2023. The Pigeons were rude hosts, winning 2-0 on goals by Bakrar and Talles Magno. It snapped Orlando’s five-game unbeaten run but the Lions clinched a playoff spot that day anyway due to other results around the league.

These teams also met last year in Orlando on May 17, and with the Lions poised for a 1-0 win, NYCFC eked out a late 1-1 draw with an 89th-minute Gabriel Segal goal out of nowhere. Ercan Kara scored for Orlando City early on, but the Lions were wasteful with opportunities for the rest of the match.

The teams faced off at Red Bull Arena (one of NYCFC’s many homes away from home) on Oct. 2, 2022, with the Pigeons erasing a 1-0 halftime deficit that Facundo Torres provided. The “hosts” got second-half goals from Alex Callens and Magno to complete the comeback and win, 2-1. Earlier in the year at Exploria Stadium, the Lions got a Tesho Akindele goal at the death, stunning NYCFC as Orlando City won 2-1 on Aug. 28, 2022. Junior Urso and Maxi Moralez had scored early in the first and second half, respectively, to set up Akindele’s dramatic late winner.

Orlando City had a five-game unbeaten streak in the series (1-0-4) absolutely demolished on July 25, 2021 in a 5-0 OCSC loss at Yankee Stadium. The Lions started a makeshift lineup, and it showed, as the Pigeons got goals from Jesus Medina, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, Moralez, Malte Amundsen, and Valentin Castellanos. Why the makeshift lineup? That match was sandwiched between home games against Philadelphia and Atlanta, with quick turnarounds for each. The strategy was sound, as Orlando won the other two games in that nine-day span.

The teams 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 goalkeeper 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 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 drew both regular-season meetings in 2019, 1-1 on April 27 at Yankee Stadium, and 2-2 on opening day at Exploria Stadium. NYCFC took all three meetings in a dismal 2018 season series. The Lions went 2-1-0 against New York City FC in 2017, including a win to christen the stadium now known as Exploria with Cyle Larin scoring 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.

Match Overview

Orlando City is riding a four-game winning streak since falling at Yankee Stadium on June 28. The most recent victory in that span was a 3-0 win at Nashville SC on Wednesday. Orlando has outscored opponents 13-2 during the streak, playing the best the team has all season. The Lions, however, have done much of that on the road, as they are just 3-5-3 at home in 2024. That said, the last home match saw Orlando beat D.C. United 5-0.

New York City FC is 3-6-3 on the road this season, so that does offer some comfort when compared to Orlando’s home record. The Pigeons are playing their fourth consecutive road game, having gone 0-1-2 in their first three away from Yankee Stadium in this stretch so far. That includes draws in their last two, with the most recent a 2-2 deadlock at Atlanta United on Wednesday.

Tonight’s match may come down to which can more successfully deal with tired legs and minds as each team is playing its third match in eight days in the lead-up to the Leagues Cup break.

Rodriguez has been the primary weapon for NYCFC this season, leading the club with eight goals and seven assists. Alonso Martinez also has eight goals and two assists. Both scored against Orlando in the last meeting.

“We have the experience on the last game [against New York City FC]. We know them and they know us as well, but now we are in a very different rhythm,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said ahead of the game. “I think we are just getting things together, and we hope that we can experience that in this game too, and in our home, and there’s nothing better than just winning games here in front of our fans.”

Orlando City will be without McGuire (international duty), Michael Halliday (knee), and Stajduhar (lower leg). New York City FC will be without Jones (lower leg), and no one else is listed on the availability report in the club’s game notes, despite Tayvon Gray, Kevin O’Toole, and Andres Perea all being listed as out Wednesday. It’s a little-known fact that in New York City, you bypass questionable on the way back to full fitness.

Match Content


Official Lineups

Orlando City (4-2-3-1)

Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese

Defenders: Rafael Santos, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson.

Defensive Midfielders: Cesar Araujo, Wilder Cartagena.

Attacking Midfielders: Ivan Angulo, Martin Ojeda, Nico Lodeiro.

Forward: Ramiro Enrique.

Bench: Javier Otero, Kyle Smith, Alex Freeman, David Brekalo, Felipe, Jeorgio Kocevski, Facundo Torres, Luis Muriel, Jack Lynn.

New York City FC (4-3-3)

Goalkeeper: Matt Freese.

Defenders: Christian McFarlane, Birk Risa, Thiago Martins, Mija Ilenic.

Midfielders: Justin Haak, James Sands,Keaton Parks.

Forwards:  Santiago Rodriguez, Alonso Martinez, Hannes Wolf.

Bench: Luis Barraza, Tayvon Gray, Talles Magno, Mounsef Bakrar, Julian Fernandez, Jovan Mijatovic, Maxi Moralez, Agustin Ojeda, Strahinja Tanasijevic.

Referees:

REF: Joe Dickerson.
AR1: Eric Weisbrod.
AR2: Justin Howard.
4TH: Calin Radosav.
VAR: Alejandro Mariscal.
AVAR: Jonathan Johnson.


How to Watch

Match Time: 7:30 p.m.

Venue: Inter&Co Stadium — Orlando.

TV/Live Stream: 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 match. Go City!

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