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 second of the two scheduled MLS matches this season between the Lions (3-2-2, 11 points) and the Black and Red (2-4-2, 8 points). The teams drew in their first meeting of the season. (More on that below.)
Here’s what you need to know ahead of the match.
The Lions are 6-8-2 against D.C. in the all-time league series since the club joined MLS, and 6-8-3 in all competitions. Orlando is slightly better on its own pitch, going 4-3-1 in home matches against D.C. The Black and Red have managed three consecutive results in the series (2-0-1) since Wayne Rooney took over as D.C.’s manager. Oscar Pareja is 5-5-2 in his managerial career against D.C.
Orlando City is just 1-2-1 at home this season and D.C. is 1-2-1 on the road, with that away win coming last week at CF Montreal.
These teams squared off in D.C. just a few weeks ago in D.C., splitting the points in a 1-1 draw at Audi Field on March 11. Duncan McGuire scored his first MLS goal in the match but Chis Durkin leveled things late in a match that was sandwiched between Orlando City’s two legs of Concacaf Champions League play against Tigres UANL.
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 meeting in D.C. last year took place July 31 and 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 stoppage-time strikes by Chris Durkin and Taxi Fountas.
The teams also met on Independence Day at Exploria Stadium (the league seems to like to make these teams play twice just a few weeks apart), 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 twice in 2021, including Oct. 2 at Exploria Stadium. Daryl Dike scored a dramatic, late winner deep in stoppage 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 an early 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 the controversy that 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. 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 come-from-behind 2-1 win over Minnesota United last Saturday night at Allianz Field. The win kept the Lions unbeaten on the road in 2023 and they’d love to start replicating that success at Exploria Stadium. OCSC is winless at home in three matches (0-2-1) with two consecutive losses in league play. Toss in a 1-1 draw with Tigres and you need to go back to opening day since Orlando won at home.
Conversely, D.C.’s win at Montreal last weekend was the club’s first win anywhere since a victory at Audi Field on opening day against Toronto FC.
The Lions will need to be aware of where Christian Benteke is at all times. The former Crystal Palace, Liverpool, and Aston Villa man leads D.C. in goals (3), shots (22), and shots on target (8). D.C. looks for him often and from everywhere. Watch for goalkeeper Tyler Miller to launch long balls to the 6-foot-3 guy up top.
Greek Designated Player Taxiarchis Fountas is D.C.’s all-time leading scorer against Orlando City, with four goals to his credit. Fountas, who did not play in the first meeting due to a thigh injury, has only played four matches this season (three starts) but is already second on the club in shots (14) and tied with Benteke for shots on target (8). Polish international Mateusz Klich is another D.C. player that Orlando City will need to keep an eye on. Klich has a goal and a pair of assists on the year.
“The league is in a moment where teams are adjusting. It’s a journey of 34 games and now we’re at seven or eight and I think all of the coaches are trying to look for the best positioning, the best model, and best structure, so we’re expecting teams and rivals to change,” Pareja said ahead of the match. “Based on our last performance against D.C., we did play well. We were 10 minutes out from bringing home three points and they ended up tying the game. I think they’re going to come with a couple of new players that they have that did not play that one game. They won against Montréal [last week] so their motivation should be high too. All those things have to be in the equation, and most importantly, as we always say, is to see if we can impose our style and our ways. It’s going to be a challenge against a good rival like any other.”
The only player on Orlando City’s availability report heading into the weekend is Homegrown fullback Michael Halliday (thigh), who remains out. D.C. lists Brendan Hines-Ike (foot), Martin Rodriguez (knee), Nigel Robertha (ankle), Derrick Williams (thigh), and Mohanad Jeahze (thigh) as out for tonight.
Mandatory Match Content
- Our most recent episode of The Mane Land PawedCast includes our match preview, key match-ups, and predictions for the game, and it also features our exclusive interview with Orlando City left back Luca Petrasso.
- Our Dave Rohe provided his three keys to victory for Orlando City in this match.
Orlando City (3-4-2-1)
Goalkeeper: Pedro Gallese.
Defenders: Rodrigo Schlegel, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos.
Midfielders: Gaston Gonzalez, Mauricio Pereyra, Cesar Araujo, Ivan Angulo.
Attacking Midfielders: Facundo Torres, Martin Ojeda.
Forward: Duncan McGuire.
Bench: Mason Stajduhar, Rafael Santos, Kyle Smith, Abdi Salim, Wilder Cartagena, Felipe, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson, Ramiro Enrique, Ercan Kara.
D.C. United (4-4-2)
Goalkeeper: Tyler Miller.
Defenders: Victor Palsson, Donovan Pines, Steven Birnbaum, Ruan.
Midfielders: Mateusz Klich, Lewis O’Brien, Russell Canouse, Pedro Santos.
Forwards: Christian Benteke, Taxiarchis Fountas.
Bench: Alex Bono, Andy Najar, Matai Akinmboni, Jacob Greene, Jackson Hopkins, Chris Durkin, Yamil Asad, Theodore Ku-Dipietro, Kristian Fletcher,
Ref: Lukasz Szpala.
AR1: Jose Da Silva.
AR2: Andrew Bigelow.
4TH: Tori Penso.
VAR: Edvin Jurisevic.
AVAR: Tyler Wyrostek.
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), Acción 97.9 FM, 810 AM (Spanish).
Enjoy the match. Go City!