Welcome to your match thread for a Saturday night match-up between Orlando City SC (1-1-2, 5 points) and the Philadelphia Union (2-2-0, 6 points) at Subaru Park (7:30 p.m., MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+). This is the first of two regular-season match-ups between the Lions and Union in 2023, with Philadelphia making the return trip to Exploria Stadium on June 21.
Here’s what you need to know ahead of the match.
Orlando City is 4-7-5 in the 16 MLS meetings with the Union since the club joined Major League Soccer in 2015, and 5-8-5 in all competitions. The Lions are 2-5-1 against the Union on the road in league play and 2-6-1 at Philadelphia in all competitions.
Strange things tend to happen when the teams meet (and tend to favor the Union), but that’s especially true in Philadelphia. The last two matches at Subaru Park should probably have seen Kacper Przybylko and Jose Martinez sent off for the hosts and the Pro Referees Organization apologized for a winning Union goal that should never have counted on another previous trip to Pennsylvania.
The Union put the Lions to the sword in the last meeting, a dominant 5-1 win by Philadelphia on Sept. 10 of last year. That was Orlando’s first match since winning the U.S. Open Cup title three days earlier. Joao Moutinho’s own goal started the scoring and the Union got goals from Mikael Uhre, Daniel Gazdag (penalty), Alejandro Bedoya, and Jack Elliott. Andres Perea, who is now with the Union, scored for Orlando but the Lions were trailing by 4-0 at the time. Martinez appeared to headbutt Wilder Cartagena in that match but no call was made.
The Eastern Conference foes met on July 23, 2022 at Exploria Stadium. Two controversial video review decisions went against Orlando that night and the Lions were wasteful with their chances in an evenly matched 1-0 Philadelphia win. Daniel Gazdag scored the game’s only goal off a set piece.
The teams also met in U.S. Open Cup play on May 10, 2022, with the Lions winning 2-1 at home. Ercan Kara and Perea hoisted Orlando to a 2-0 lead. Stuart Findlay pulled one back late, but the Lions saw it out and advanced.
The teams met at Subaru Park on Sept. 19, 2021 and the Union prevailed 3-1, largely due to a brace by Przybylko after he got away with what appeared a clear elbow to the face of Rodrigo Schlegel. Instead of being sent off and/or conceding a free kick to Orlando City, the Union scored on the ensuing play and went on to win the match. The teams met in Orlando on July 22, 2021 and the Lions got goals by Benji Michel and Perea on the team’s only two shots on target to win 2-1. Przybylko, who had feasted on Orlando since arriving in Philadelphia, pulled one back for the visitors but the Lions hung on.
The teams met in 2020 in the group stage of the MLS is Back Tournament in the only meeting to date that did not take place in either side’s home stadium. The game ended in a 1-1 draw after a Mauricio Pereyra goal canceled out a strike by Ilsinho. That draw allowed the Lions to win Group A in the competition and they went on to reach the final.
The teams met in what was then known as Talen Energy Stadium on July 7, 2019, with the Lions and Union drawing 2-2. Dom Dwyer and Santiago Patino brought Orlando back from 1-0 down but Przybylko poached a goal in the 90th to capture a share of the points for the Union. That match was postponed by MLS on the night it was set to take place — a move that Orlando City fought against — and instead was played the next day.
The two teams had met just a few days earlier on July 3, ending in Orlando’s 3-1 home loss against the Union. Chris Mueller and Przybylko swapped goals in the first half before Robin Jansson was sent off just prior to the break. Afterwards, the 10-man Lions gave up two more goals — one to Przybylko and the other to Fafa Picault — and then went down another man with Sacha Kljestan seeing red.
The teams drew 2-2 in a wild finish on Sept. 1, 2018 in Orlando. Just when it looked like Picault had lifted the Union to victory with a strike in the 88th minute, Scott Sutter equalized in stoppage time to salvage a point for the Lions. Dwyer and Cory Burke also scored in that match. The Lions prevailed over the Union in Philadelphia on April 13, 2018 by a 2-0 score. Dwyer and Mueller provided the offense. Orlando and Philadelphia also met that season in U.S. Open Cup play, with the Union capturing a 1-0 home win back on July 18, 2018 on a goal by Bedoya.
In 2017, the home side won each match, with Orlando City winning 2-1 at Orlando City Stadium on March 18 and the Union winning an ugly 6-1 match in the season finale for both teams. The Lions were 1-1-1 against Philadelphia in 2016. The team’s first road victory in the series came on Oct. 16, 2016, as the Lions roared, 2-0. The teams played to a 2-2 draw on May 25 in Orlando. Tranquillo Barnetta’s free kick in the 89th minute gave Philly a 2-1 win on March 8 of 2016.
Orlando drew 0-0 at home and lost on the road, 1-0 (on a penalty kick), against Philadelphia in 2015.
Orlando City enters tonight’s match having not won since opening night. The Lions are winless in three league matches (0-1-2) and five games in all competition (0-1-4), with a problematic 2-1 home loss to struggling Charlotte a week ago. City is 0-0-1 on the road in league play so far this season and 0-0-2 away from Exploria Stadium in all competitions.
Philadelphia enters tonight coming off a 3-2 road loss in Montreal last weekend, but the Union are 2-0-0 at home in MLS matches and 3-0-0 in all competitions, outscoring opponents 9-1. Philadelphia has won 12 straight home matches and is unbeaten in its last 24 league home games (19-0-5). You have to go back to Sept. 3, 2021 to find a Union home loss — a 1-0 decision to the New England Revolution. It’s fair to say the Union have turned Subaru Park into the kind of fortress of which Orlando fans can only dream.
Typically the Union like to deploy in a 4-4-2 diamond formation under Jim Curtin but with so many players out — more on that below — we could see something different. We will likely see Perea in the lineup against his former teammates, as the young midfielder has become the team’s backup at the No. 8 position. Uhre will be the danger man that Orlando City must always keep under wraps. On the other end, the stout Union back line is intact and is going to be difficult to break down, while Kai Wagner will present a threat on crosses.
“You always have to be ready no matter what, whether you don’t think you’re gonna play, you think you’re gonna play, you’ve always got to be ready, always being prepared and treating every game like you’re going to be the one playing,” said backup goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar earlier this week. “I think it’s also taught me patience. No situation is permanent and things can change like that. So, I’d say patience and preparedness for sure.”
Stajduhar, who will start tonight barring something unforeseen, was in net the last time the Lions went to Philadelphia, and he got shelled in that 5-1 loss. Philly hasn’t been kind to backup Orlando goalkeepers. Earl Edwards Jr. lost a 6-1 match there in his first MLS start in October of 2017, and Josh Ford lost 1-0 — on a penalty kick goal by Sebastien LeToux in his first MLS start back in 2015.
This is going to be a weird game due to absences. Both teams are missing key players due to international duty and the Union are also dealing with a crucial injury to goalkeeper Andre Blake, while the Lions could be without Kara, who is questionable with a thigh injury. In addition to Black (adductor strain) being listed as out on the availability report, Julian Carranza is suspended after picking up a pair of yellow cards last Saturday in Montreal. The Union will be without Gazdag, Damion Lowe, Martinez, Richard Odada, Quinn Sullivan, Brandan Craig, and Jack McGlynn due to international duty. The only Orlando injury is Kara’s but the team will be without internationals Pedro Gallese, Wilder Cartagena, Facundo Torres, Michael Halliday, Thomas Williams, Alex Freeman, and Favian Loyola.
Mandatory Match Content
- This week’s Intelligence Report features insight into the Union from Joe Lister of SBNation’s Philadelphia blog, Philadelphia Soccer Now.
- The most recent PawedCast includes our key match-ups and score predictions for tonight’s game, as well as an interview with Orlando Pride rookie Messiah Bright.
- Our Dave Rohe provided his three keys to victory for Orlando City against Philadelphia.
Orlando City (4-2-3-1),
Goalkeeper: Mason Stajduhar.
Defenders: Luca Petrasso, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, Kyle Smith.
Defensive Midfielders: Cesar Araujo, Felipe.
Attacking Midfielders: Ivan Angulo, Mauricio Pereyra, Martin Ojeda.
Forward: Ramiro Enrique.
Bench: Adam Grinwis, Rafael Santos, Abdi Salim, Antonio Carlos, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, Gaston Gonzalez, Shak Mohammed, Jack Lynn, Duncan McGuire.
Philadelphia Union (4-4-2 diamond)
Goalkeeper: Joe Bendik.
Defenders: Kai Wagner, Jack Elliott, Jakob Glesnes, Olivier Mbaizo.
Midfielders: Andres Perea, Leon Flach, Alejandro Bedoya, Joaquin Torres.
Forwards: Michael Uhre, Chris Donovan.
Bench: Holden Trent, Nathan Harriel, Matthew Real, Jesus Bueno, Jeremy Rafanello.
Ref: Allen Chapman.
AR1: Brian Dunn.
AR2: Justin Howard.
4th: Luis Diego Arroyo.
VAR: Alejandro Mariscal.
AVAR: Mike Kampmeinert.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7:30 p.m.
Venue: Subaru Park — Chester, PA.
TV/Streaming: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+.
Radio: Real Radio 104.1 FM (English), Accion 97.9 FM and 810 AM (Spanish).
Enjoy the match. Go City!
2023 Orlando City Season in Review: Junior Urso
The Bear returned unexpectedly in the middle of the season to bolster the Orlando midfield.
Midfielder Junior Urso joined Orlando City on Jan. 13, 2020 from Brazilian giants Corinthians on a multi-year deal. The Bear spent three years in purple before he and the club mutually agreed to part ways, terminating his contract for personal reasons on Nov. 10, 2022. Upon his return to Brazil, Urso joined Coritiba, but injuries limited him to just seven appearances. In a surprise move, Urso rejoined Orlando City on July 19, returning to the City Beautiful and accepting a backup role behind the Lions’ double pivot of Wilder Cartagena and Cesar Araujo.
Let’s take a look back at Urso’s 2023 campaign.
Urso made his return to the pitch for Orlando City on Aug. 20, following the club’s run in Leagues Cup. In the MLS regular season, Urso made nine appearances (two starts), logging 250 minutes. Urso did not score a goal or assist on one, attempting just three shots, none of which found the target. The Bear completed 78.3% of his 115 total pass attempts but did not record a key pass or a successful cross. Defensively, Urso tallied two interceptions, five tackles, and five clearances. He committed two fouls, drew two on the opposition, and was booked just once.
The Brazilian also appeared in all three of Orlando City’s playoff matches, all off the bench, totaling 98 minutes. He did not score a goal or assist on one, attempting three shots, one of which was on target. He completed 86.4% of his passes, including three key passes, but did not connect on a cross. Urso chipped in one tackle defensively, committed two fouls, suffered three, and was not booked in the postseason.
With a little less than a third of a season in purple and gold and serving primarily as a reserve player, Urso’s best match was his regular-season appearance on the road against Nashville SC on Oct. 4. The Bear came on for Facundo Torres in the 72nd minute and did what fans have always expected of him, which is to frustrate the living hell out of the opponent. Urso made sure that Nashville knew that he had entered the game, winning countless throw-ins, allowing Orlando to walk away with its first road victory at Nashville. Urso also recorded a shot in the match, which was the Lions’ only attempt other than Duncan McGuire’s goal, although it was perhaps a bit generous to call it a shot attempt. He passed at a 72.2% rate and recorded a tackle and a clearance and did his job helping the Lions see out a tight victory.
2023 Final Grade
As Urso came up short of the minimum total of 450 minutes played to receive a rating on our 1-10 scale, The Mane Land has no choice but to mark his grade as incomplete for the 2023 season. While it was a surreal experience just to see the Bear back on the pitch for Orlando City after his sudden departure, a delayed return to the pitch due to a lingering knock and the play of the midfielders in front of him on the depth chart limited his ability to leave his mark on the season. However, it’s difficult to put a grade on the experience he brought to the squad.
Orlando City has yet to announce its end-of-season roster decisions as of this writing, but with Wilder Cartagena’s loan spell expired, the Lions would be wise to pick up Urso’s contract option for the 2024 season. If that happens, he would likely take up the No. 8 role with Araujo playing the No. 6 in Orlando’s double pivot (assuming Oscar Pareja also returns). Urso could split time at the No. 8 if Orlando adds a new starting No. 10, because in that case, Mauricio Pereyra might see some time in that spot. If a permanent transfer or loan extension for Cartagena is secured, Urso provides value off the bench, although he’s a bit pricey for a backup at $360,000.
Previous Season in Review Articles (Date Posted)
Lion Links: 12/5/23
Exploria Stadium will host Copa America games, Pride reportedly make offer for Crystal Dunn, Americans in midweek action, and more.
Good morning, everyone. I’m still dragging a little bit after having a shortened weekend due to work, but I hope all of you were able to hit the ground running yesterday and started your weeks off on the right note. As usual, there’s a lot of interesting things to discuss today, so let’s get after it.
Exploria Stadium Picked as Copa America Venue
The host cities and venues for next summer’s Copa America tournament were revealed and Orlando City’s Exploria Stadium has been chosen. The Lions’ home will have games on June 29 and July 1, and both games could be very important ones as they will take place during the final day of play for Groups A and C. We also know that the USMNT will play its group stage games in Atlanta, Dallas, and Kansas City. The semifinal matches will be held at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey and at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, with Charlotte also hosting the third-place game. We’ll know very soon which teams will be playing in Orlando, as the draw will take place on Thursday.
Orlando Pride Reportedly Make an Offer for Crystal Dunn
The Orlando Pride have reportedly made a large offer to bring Crystal Dunn to Orlando, with CBS Sports reporting the amount prepared by the Pride to be more than $400,000. However, negotiations between the Pride and Dunn are reportedly no longer ongoing.
The 31-year-old is a free agent after announcing that she was not returning to the Portland Thorns after three seasons there. She is one of the more notable free agents this off-season and the Washington Spirit and NJ/NY Gotham FC are also interested in signing her ahead of the 2024 season.
Americans in Midweek Action
There are a number of American players who will be playing games this week, so make sure you have some of these marked down on your calendar. First up is a match that could feature up to three players currently in the USMNT pool, as Jordan Pefok, Joe Scally, and Borussia Monchengladbach will face Kevin Paredes and Wolfsburg in the DFB Pokal. Tomorrow sees Tim Ream, Antonee Robinson, and Fulham playing Matt Turner’s Nottingham Forest, although the USMNT’s starting goalkeeper is not likely to play. The week finishes with Juventus and Weston McKennie facing Napoli in league play, although Tim Weah is still an injury doubt.
USWNT Aims for Change in Mentality
The 2024 calendar year is going to be an important one for the United States Women’s National Team, and the team wants to start it off on the right foot. Interim head coach Twila Kilgore is viewing today’s match against China as a chance for the team to continue building a new identity and to keep developing tactically after a disappointing early exit from this summer’s World Cup. While Emma Hayes has been named the team’s new head coach, she won’t officially join up until Chelsea’s club season ends in May. Until that happens, there’s plenty of work to be done with the Gold Cup just around the corner in March, followed by the Olympics in Paris in July.
The Soccer Tournament Adds Women’s Competition
Following the success of last year’s first edition of The Soccer Tournament, the organizers have added a women’s competition for next summer’s event. The seven-a-side tournament will now also feature an eight-team women’s bracket which will also have a $1 million prize up for grabs. The decision was made after an all-women’s team led by Heather O’Reilly drew significant support when it competed last year, despite not picking up a win. The men’s tournament will also be expanding to 48 teams for this year’s competition, after featuring 32 participants during the summer.
- Ramiro Enrique has been called up to Argentina’s training camp for its 2024 Olympic team.
- Orlando City’s documentary about the 2022 U.S. Open Cup victory has won a Suncoast Emmy.
- In the 2023 Women’s College Cup final, Florida State beat Stanford 5-1 to win its fourth national championship.
- David de Gea is reportedly open to signing for Newcastle United following Nick Pope’s shoulder dislocation.
- The English FA has charged Manchester City with failing to control its players, following Erling Haaland’s reaction on social media to a decision made by referee Simon Hooper.
That’s all that I have for today. Y’all stay safe out there.
Lion Links: 12/4/23
Crew to host MLS Cup final, LAFC returns to MLS Cup, Tim Howard to be inducted into National Soccer Hall of Fame, and more.
Good Monday morning, Mane Landers. The weekend brought us some drama-filled conference final action, and we now know who will play for the MLS Cup. But before I dive into that, I just want to take a quick minute to say with mixed emotions that this will be my final Lion Links here, but don’t be sad, because the rest of the boys will still be bringing your daily content needs and coverage. I’ll be stepping away as my wife and I are soon to be first-time parents, and I’m looking forward to all that entails. I appreciate each and every one of you readers for taking the time to scroll through my articles each week. If you’re interested in writing for TML, we could definitely use the help so please reach out. Now, let’s get into the links!
Columbus Crew Claim Hell Is Real Comeback
After a rocky start, the Columbus Crew became the first team to overcome a two-goal deficit on the road and advance in a single-leg round in the history of the MLS Cup playoffs. FC Cincinnati got off to a great start behind USMNT striker Brandon Vasquez, who opened the scoring, but it was captain Luciano Acosta’s sublime free kick finish that stole the show in the first half.
It took trusting the process and the tactics of their first-year manager Wilfried Nancy, but the Columbus Crew fought back with late match heroics to seal the victory. Forward Christian Ramirez bagged the game-winning goal in extra time in the 115th minute.
“You can only fight for someone like that,” said Ramirez. “So many times you can feel that you’re getting the bad end of the stick at certain moments, but I haven’t felt that. I think numerous guys understand how he sees the game now, and we respect that. We talk about writing our story in the Columbus Crew history; this chapter wasn’t done. We got one more week, one more game.”
LAFC Returns to MLS Cup
The league’s defending champion, LAFC, will once again be playing in the final match of the postseason. After frustrating the Houston Dynamo throughout the Western Conference final, LAFC won 2-0. Houston might have dominated the stat sheet in possession, passes, and passing accuracy, but really it was just playing into the gameplan of LAFC.
“We knew that’s what they wanted. They wanted the ball,” said LAFC right back Ryan Hollingshead. “They like to play this little tiki-taka in the middle of the field, these little movements, little one-twos, three of their guys just kind of pass the ball, but they’re going nowhere. And so we just said, do whatever you got, have the ball as long as you want. They created zero dangerous chances. They had a half-chance in the first half on a cross to Baird and that was it. And so a lot of these teams, it’s like, yeah, they’ve got possession, they may be moving the ball. But if they’re not creating dangerous chances, who cares?”
MLS Cup Final Preview
The Eastern Conference champion Columbus Crew will host Western Conference champion LAFC at Lower.com Field on Dec. 9 at 4 p.m for the MLS Cup. The match will be No. 53 across all competitions this campaign for LAFC, and a victory would make the club the first repeat winners since the 2011-2012 LA Galaxy. The storylines leading to the match will likely center around the possibility of it being Carlos Vela’s final game for LAFC, but for the Crew, the bench players will be the ones to watch. In the 65th minute of the Eastern Conference final, Head Coach Wilfried Nancy brought in Julian Gressel and Christian Ramirez, who both played a pivotal role in two of the three Columbus goals in the comeback victory. The Crew last lifted the MLS Cup in 2020, defeating Seattle Sounders 3-0 at Historic Crew Stadium.
2024 National Soccer Hall of Fame
On May 4, the National Soccer Hall of Fame will induct its 2024 class. Most notable will be long-time USMNT goalkeeper Tim Howard, who played 121 matches for the United States and had a successful career in the English Premier League. Other inductees will be USWNT World Cup winner Tisha Venturini-Hoch, 1996 Paralympic captain Josh McKinney, and USL founder Francisco Marcos.
Orlando Reportedly Set to Host USMNT-Brazil Friendly
The United States Men’s National Team is reportedly far along in negotiations to face Brazil in Orlando for a friendly leading to next year’s Copa America. The Yanks and Brazil last met in September 2018 in a friendly match in East Rutherford, NJ. The United States will host the Copa America from June 19 to July 14 as one of six invited teams to the South American competition. Brazil enter as the defending champion and should prove a worthy test for the Stars & Stripes to tune up for the Southern American title.
- Check your pockets and secure your valuables when USMNT left back Antonee Robinson is on the field.
- Liverpool scored in the 87th and 88th minutes to win 4-3 and climb to second in the EPL standings on 31 points.
- Manchester City and Tottenham played to a thrilling 3-3 draw that might find Erling Haaland charged by the English Football Association for criticizing the performance of the referees.
- Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen saw an eight-game winning run in the league come to an end with a 1-1 draw.
- Inter Milan secured a 3-0 victory at Napoli to reach the top of the Serie A table.
- Arsenal will face Liverpool in a massive FA Cup third-round clash in January.
- Wrexham reached the third round of FA Cup after defeating Yeovil Town 3-0.
That’s a wrap for my personal writing here for a while. It has been a pleasure to bring some coverage to you all for the past couple seasons. It’s not goodbye. It’s see you later. Vamos Orlando!
Orlando Pride Sign Defender Emily Madril to New Contract
2023 Orlando City Season in Review: Junior Urso
Lion Links: 12/5/23
Lion Links: 12/1/23
Orlando Pride Sign Finnish Goalkeeper Sofia Manner
2023 Orlando City Season in Review: Abdi Salim
Orlando City1 week ago
Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew: Five Takeaways
Orlando City1 week ago
Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew: Final Score 2-0 as 10-Man Lions Fall at Home in Extra Time
Orlando City2 weeks ago
Intelligence Report: Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew
Orlando City2 weeks ago
Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More
Orlando City1 week ago
Orlando City vs. Columbus Crew: Player Grades and Man of the Match
Lion Links7 days ago
Lion Links: 11/29/23
Lion Links2 weeks ago
Lion Links: 11/22/23
Lion Links2 weeks ago
Lion Links: 11/25/23