Orlando City

Orlando City vs. Nashville SC: Preview, How to Watch, TV Info, Live Stream, Lineups, Match Thread, and More

The Lions host defensive-minded Nashville in the first playoff game in this year’s weird, best-of-three first round format.



Image courtesy of Orlando City SC

Welcome to your match thread for a strange, Monday night playoff matchup between Orlando City (18-7-9, 63 points) and Nashville SC (13-11-10, 49 points) at Exploria Stadium (7 p.m., FS1, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+). It’s the third meeting between the teams this season and the second time the two clubs have met in the postseason.

Here’s what you need to know ahead of the match.


The Lions are 2-2-4 against Nashville in MLS regular-season matches and 2-3-5 in all competitions. Orlando is 1-2-1 at home in the series in league play and 1-2-2 at home in all competitions. The Lions have met Nashville in the postseason once previously, but that was in Nashville (more on that below).

The teams last met just 26 days ago in Nashville, with Orlando City stealing a 1-0 win in Music City on Duncan McGuire’s goal just before halftime. That was one of only two shot attempts by the Lions all night and the only one on target. Orlando played well defensively and Pedro Gallese didn’t have to make a save as the hosts didn’t put any shots on frame.

Nashville visited Orlando back on April 1 at Exploria Stadium and it was the visitors who made fools of the Lions, as Nashville won, 2-0. Fafa Picault and Hany Mukhtar did the damage for Nashville.

The teams did not meet in regular-season play last year, meeting only in the U.S. Open Cup in Orlando on June 29, 2022. Mukhtar scored in the second half, and that looked like it would be enough until Rodrigo Schlegel equalized deep in stoppage time. After a scoreless 30 minutes of extra time, the Lions won the ensuing penalty shootout, 6-4.

These sides met in the 2021 postseason in Tennessee, with Orlando scoring first through Daryl Dike’s early goal, but Nashville won 3-1 on Nov. 23, 2021 to knock the Lions out of the playoffs. Mukhtar tied it up before halftime on a fluky deflected goal off of Antonio Carlos and then put his team up in the 74th minute on a counter attack. Jhonder Cadiz put things away deep in stoppage time.

The teams met in Orlando on Oct. 3, 2021 and ended in a 1-1 draw after referee Allen Chapman’s Halloween Heist chalked off Andres Perea’s apparent stoppage-time winner. The referee’s excuse for overturning the goal was an imagined foul on Dike, who, if anything, was the fouled party. The decision cost the Lions a valuable home playoff match, which instead sent Orlando to Nashville. Mukhtar scored for Nashville to equalize in the second half after Dike’s first-half goal.

The teams met in Nashville on Sept. 29, 2021 with a late rally by the Lions earning the team a 2-2 road draw at Nissan Stadium. The hosts had taken a 2-0 lead on goals by Mukhtar — scoring off the rebound of his own saved penalty — and Randall Leal, but a penalty by Dike and a stoppage-time own goal by Brian Anunga turned the game around. On Aug. 18 of that season, the teams finished in another 1-1 draw. C.J. Sapong put the hosts ahead in the first half and Carlos leveled the score in the second half. The Lions, who played poorly in the opening 45, were the better team throughout the second half and Tesho Akindele’s shot off the crossbar was inches from providing a winner for Orlando.

The teams met on Decision Day of 2020 at Exploria Stadium, with Orlando melting down late, allowing two goals from the 88th minute on, and falling 3-2 at home on Nov. 8, 2020 — the team’s only home loss on the season. Dike and Nani goals sandwiched a strike by Daniel Lovitz, giving the Lions a lead until late. Headers by Mukhtar (in the 88th minute) and Cadiz (in the 93rd minute) turned the game on its head.

In the Lions’ first trip to Nissan Stadium, the teams played to a 1-1 draw on Sept. 2, 2020. Benji Michel put the Lions ahead with a stunner of a goal, but Leal knotted things up and that’s the way the match ended.

That 1-1 draw came a week after a 3-1 Orlando City win on Aug. 26 at Exploria Stadium. Dave Romney had opened the scoring for Nashville with a header off a free kick but Orlando scored the last three. Dike took a star turn for Orlando City, scoring a brace, and Chris Mueller also scored for the Lions.


The Lions finished the season strong, winning 2-0 at Toronto on Decision Day despite playing a heavily rotated lineup. McGuire came off the bench to bag his first MLS brace. Orlando has won its last four matches in the lead-up to the postseason and is unbeaten in five straight (4-0-1). At home, Orlando finished the regular season 9-3-5, going unbeaten at Exploria since April 22 — a span of 14 matches in all competitions (9-0-5).

Nashville SC lost 1-0 at home on Decision Day, which helped the New York Red Bulls get into the playoffs. The Tennessee-based side went 4-7-6 on the road during the regular season, which is why one of the league’s preseason favorites finished seventh in the Eastern Conference. However, it bears repeating that one of those four road wins came in Orlando, albeit at a time when the 2023 Lions were still trying to figure out who they were. Nashville is also unbeaten in its last five away games, although only one of those was a win (1-0-4).

Tonight’s visitors have given Orlando City fits, mostly by playing lockdown defense (they’ve conceded the fewest goals in the league this season, with just 32 — tied with Seattle) and having Mukhtar torturing the Lions on the break. The German-Sudanese Designated Player has plagued Orlando City since arriving in MLS. Mukhtar has four goals and five assists against the Lions in eight career matches (seven starts). You should never bet your house on anything, but if you did, betting on Mukhtar to have a goal contribution against the Lions seems a near certainty.

The Lions must look for ways to break down Nashville’s elite defense, while concentrating for the entire 90+ minutes to not give up the ball in dangerous areas. Orlando City will need to be vigilant to guard against quick restarts on free kicks and be alert to balls over the top into space. This will be a huge test for the Lions’ back line, which must prevent balls into the box to Mukhtar, Picault, Teal Bunbury, and Jacob Shaffelburg. Orlando will also have to challenge set pieces with strength, as U.S. international defender Walker Zimmerman is great in the air.

“We are very aware that this is a new beginning, a new tournament,” Head Coach Oscar Pareja said about starting the playoffs. “We know who we are, we know where we are, and the players are conscious about what we achieved, too, but most important is we can focus on this moment and just think about the present. And the present is Nashville on Monday. That’s all anybody cares (about) for us.”

Orlando City will be without reserves Favian Loyola (arm) and Jack Lynn (thigh). Nashville will be without Nick DePuy (lower body), while Randall Leal (lower body) is listed as questionable.

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: Wilder Cartagena, Cesar Araujo.

Attacking Midfielders: Ivan Angulo, Mauricio Pereyra, Facundo Torres.

Forward: Duncan McGuire.

Bench: Mason Stajduhar, Kyle Smith, Michael Halliday, Antonio Carlos, Felipe, Junior Urso, Gaston Gonzalez, Martin Ojeda, Ramiro Enrique.

Nashville SC (4-4-2)

Goalkeeper: Joe Willis.

Defenders: Daniel Lovitz, Jack Maher, Walker Zimmerman, Shaq Moore.

Midfielders: Alex Muyl, Anibal Godoy, Sean Davis, Jacob Shaffelburg.

Forwards: Hany Mukhtar, Sam Surridge.

Bench: Elliot Panicco, Taylor Washington, Josh Bauer, Lukas MacNaughton, Luke Haakenson, Dax McCarty, Brian Anunga, Fafa Picault, Teal Bunbury.


REF: Armando Villarreal.
AR1: Corey Rockwell.
AR2: Diego Blas.
4TH: Fotis Bazakos.
VAR: Jose Carlos Rivero.
AVAR: Peter Balciunas.

How to Watch

Match Time: 7 p.m.

Venue: Exploria Stadium — Orlando.

TV/Streaming: FS1, MLS Season Pass on Apple TV+.

Radio: FM 96.9 The Game (English), Acción 97.9 FM, 810 AM (Spanish).

Twitter: For rapid reaction and live updates, follow along at @TheManeLand, as well as Orlando City’s official Twitter feed (@OrlandoCitySC).

Enjoy the game. Go City!


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