Welcome to your match preview and live thread for a Tuesday night U.S. Open Cup match-up between Orlando City and Charlotte FC (0-3-0, 0 points) at Mecklenburg County Sportsplex in Matthews, NC (7 p.m., CBS Golazo Network). This is the first time the two southeastern teams have met in this competition and the second time they’ve met in 2023. The Lions will return to Charlotte on Wednesday, Aug. 30 for the final regular-season meeting this year.
Here’s what you need to know ahead of the match.
The Lions are 2-1-0 in the all-time series and 1-0-0 at Charlotte. However, tonight’s hosts got the better of Orlando City in the most recent meeting, a 2-1 Charlotte win at Exploria Stadium on March 18. Enzo Copetti and Kerwin Vargas put Charlotte up 2-0 by halftime. Martin Ojeda pulled one back but the Lions were wasteful in front of goal and couldn’t pull level.
The last time the teams met at Bank of America Stadium was Aug. 21, 2022. After a scoreless first half, Ercan Kara put the Lions ahead on the road, only to see McKinze Gaines equalize just four minutes later. Tesho Akindele’s late goal lifted Orlando to a 2-1 victory.
That victory in North Carolina was the second in a run of five consecutive wins that culminated in Orlando lifting the U.S. Open Cup last summer. The Lions then stumbled to just two wins in their last five regular-season games and then fell at Montreal in the playoffs.
Orlando City won the first-ever meeting between the sides on April 30, 2022 at Exploria Stadium. Ruan scored the opening goal and set up Facundo Torres on the counter for the second as the Lions took a 2-0 lead into the locker room. Christian Fuchs scored from the spot after Rodrigo Schlegel was called for a foul in the box in the second half, but that was as close as Charlotte got in what was ultimately a 2-1 Orlando victory.
Orlando City is entering the 2023 U.S. Open Cup in this Round of 32 after winning the competition last year. All six of Orlando’s cup matches in 2022 were at home, so this is the team’s first road game in U.S. Open Cup play since June 12, 2019, when the Lions traveled to play Memphis 901 FC. The Lions are coming off a 2-0 loss at CF Montreal on Saturday night — the team’s first road loss in any competition this season. Orlando City is 2-1-1 on the road in league play and 2-1-2 away from home in all competitions.
Charlotte entered this year’s U.S. Open Cup in the third round on April 25, beating USL1 side South Georgia Tormenta FC by a 4-1 scoreline at home. Four different players scored for Charlotte. The hosts tonight are coming off a 3-2 home win over New York City and are 2-0-2 in their last four home matches. Charlotte has a 2-2-2 home mark in league play and is 3-2-2 in all competitions.
Orlando City sits two points ahead of Charlotte in the MLS Eastern Conference standings with a game in hand over tonight’s hosts. But cup games are unpredictable and Charlotte does have the one head-to-head victory already this year. Expect Charlotte to come into the match full of confidence. Meanwhile, the Lions have been on the road since before the Montreal game, opting not to come home between matches. While every case is different, Orlando City has historically laid some of its biggest eggs in the second game of a trip. Lopsided losses in Houston, Chicago, and Toronto over the years leap to mind when the club didn’t come home between matches.
It will be interesting to see what the teams look like on equal rest. The first meeting was Orlando City’s fifth game in 15 days, and on the heels of an emotional Concacaf Champions league draw against Tigres that eliminated the Lions from that competition due to the away goals tiebreaker. Meanwhile, Charlotte was on normal rest.
With four goals and an assist on the year, Copetti is the danger man for Charlotte, but he’s not the only one. Vargas and Karol Swiderski each have two goals and two assists on the season, while Kamil Jozwiak has added two goals and three assists, although he was listed as questionable with a thigh injury over the weekend and did not dress against New York City FC.
The Lions’ best bet for this match might be to use classic road match tactics, allowing Charlotte to have the ball, while staying compact and organized and looking for counterattack opportunities.
“The [Open Cup] is a cup that brings a lot of pride once you win it. This league doesn’t allow you to bounce back because you have just one game where you either keep going or stop the competition. The concentration and the dedication for the [U.S. Open Cup] game, in this case tomorrow, has to be 100%,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said. “Sometimes teams take it lightly and then after the game you regret it because you didn’t want to lose it. Instead, you want to be part of those finals. My advice to the players is to leave every single match as it was the last. Every single match means a lot for their career, our club, and our fans. It does not matter if it’s a [U.S. Open] Cup game, a league game, or an international competition. We have the responsibility to defend a jersey.”
The Lions continue to be without captain Mauricio Pereyra (thigh) and left back Luca Petrasso (thigh).
- Our most recent epsidode of the PawedCast includes our key match-ups and score predictions for today’s match, as well as a preview of the game with Daniel from the Charlotte Soccer Show.
Orlando City (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Mason Stajduhar.
Defenders: Rafael Santos, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, Michael Halliday.
Defensive Midfielders: Cesar Araujo, Felipe.
Attacking Midfielders: Gaston Gonzalez, Facundo Torres, Dagur Dan Thorhallsson.
Forwards: Duncan McGuire.
Bench: Pedro Gallese, Kyle Smith, Antonio Carlos, Wilder Cartagena, Ivan Angulo, Martin Ojeda, Ramiro Enrique.
Charlotte FC (4-3-3)
Goalkeeper: Kristijan Kahlina.
Defenders: Harrison Afful, Derrick Jones, Jan Sobocinski, Hamady Diop.
Midfielders: Brandt Bronico, Benjamin Bender, Christopher Hegardt.
Forwards: Justin Meram, Enzo Copetti McKinze Gaines.
Bench: Pablo Sisniega, Nathan Byrne, Jaylin Lindsey, Ashley Westwood, Kamil Jozwiak, Patrick Agyemang, Karol Swiderski.
Ref: Guido Gonzalez.
AR1: Bryson Condrey.
AR2: Marcus Moss.
4th: Joe Surga.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7 p.m.
Venue: Mecklenburg County Sportsplex — Matthews, NC.
TV/Live Stream: CBS Sports Golazo Network (here’s how to watch on that network).
Enjoy the match. Go City!