Welcome to your match thread and preview for a midweek matchup between Orlando City and New York City FC at Citi Field (7:30 p.m., MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+). This will be the second of the two scheduled meetings between the Lions (14-6-8, 50 points) and Pigeons (6-10-13, 31 points) this season.
Here is what you need to know ahead of the match.
The Lions are 7-7-7 in 21 meetings with NYCFC in the all-time series in MLS play and 7-7-9 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 just 2-5-2 in road games in the all-time series.
These teams met 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 most recent meeting up north took place at Red Bull Arena (one of NYCFC’s many homes away from home) on Oct. 2 of last year, with the Pigeons erasing a 1-0 halftime deficit that Facundo Torres provided. The “hosts” got second-half goals from Alex Callens and Talles 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. That draw on opening day snapped the Pigeons’ four-game series win streak, in which they’d outscored the Lions 10-0 in that span.
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.
Orlando City is coming off a dramatic 4-3 home win over the Columbus Crew on Saturday. After trailing 3-1 midway through the second half, the Lions scored three unanswered goals, securing all three points when Ramiro Enrique scored with practically the last kick of the game. That gives Orlando a six-match unbeaten streak in league play (5-0-1). City is 7-3-4 on the road in 2023 and 3-0-1 in its last four away from home.
New York City FC is literally fit to be tied. The Pigeons lead MLS with 13 draws, including a 0-0 deadlock with the rival New York Red Bulls on Saturday in their last outing. NYCFC is 5-3-6 in home matches this season. In fact, tonight’s hosts have drawn their last two matches. NYCFC enters unbeaten in its last three (1-0-2).
New York City FC has struggled to score goals throughout the season. Only Colorado, Toronto, and the Red Bulls have scored fewer than the Pigeons’ 28 on the year. However, they are defensively sound, conceding only one goal in their last three outings.
It’s anyone’s guess what tonight’s lineups will look like with this match sandwiched in the middle of two weekend games for both teams. You can probably expect some rotation on both sides. Orlando City will need to overrun a New York City midfield that features former Lion Andres Perea, who is on loan from the Philadelphia Union. If the Lions can control possession, they can try to find cracks in the NYCFC defense.
“We hosted them at Exploria Stadium at the start of the summer. We had a good game against them, and they tied it up in the 89th minute,” Orlando City Head Coach Oscar Pareja said. “There was a lot of frustration at that moment because we were waiting to record those points. They have changed some players in the last month, but they are a team with a lot of youth and a lot of talent, and that combination makes them a very dangerous team who has that initiative to always play well and to do crafty moves, especially in the front. There is some difficulty playing in a field that is much narrower and smaller than a regular field and we need to adapt to that.”
Orlando City will be without Antonio Carlos (lower leg) and Favian Loyola (arm). New York City will be without Keaton Parks, Cody Mizell, Maxi Moralez, and Alfredo Morales. All are listed with the dreaded “lower body” injury.
- Our most recent PawedCast includes our key matchups and score predictions for the New York City FC game and a preview of NYCFC with Andrew Leigh from Hudson River Blue.
- Our Intelligence Report by Ben Miller provides the latest info on New York City FC from Hudson River Blue’s Matthew Mangam.
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, Mauricio Pereyra, Facundo Torres.
Forward: Ramiro Enrique.
Bench: Mason Stajduhar, Michael Halliday, Luca Petrasso, Kyle Smith, Junior Urso, Felipe, Gaston Gonzalez, Martin Ojeda, Duncan McGuire.
New York City FC (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Matt Freese.
Defenders: Kevin O’Toole, Birk Risa, Thiago Martins, Tayvon Gray.
Defensive Midfielders: James Sands, Andres Perea.
Attacking Midfielders: Richie Ledezma, Santiago Rodríguez, Andres Jasson.
Forwards Mounsef Bakrar.
Bench: Luis Barraza, Braian Cufre, Mitja Ilenič, Nico Benalcazar, Stephen Turnbull, Justin Haak, Talles Magno, Alonso Martinez, Julian Fernandez.
REF: Ismail Elfath.
AR1: Gianni Facchini.
AR2: Chris Elliott.
4TH: Tori Penso.
VAR: Jair Marrufo.
AVAR: Tyler Wyrostek.
How to Watch
Match Time: 7:30 p.m.
Venue: Citi Field — New York City.
TV/Live Stream: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+.
Radio: FM 96.9 The Game (English), Accion 97.9 FM and 810 AM (Spanish).
Enjoy the match. Go City!