PREVIEW – The inspired NYCFC look to continue their good form against Orlando City SC. In what is undoubtable the must watch of Matchday Three, 2nd place New York City FC travel to O-Town to take on 3rd Place Orlando City on Saturday. The match will take place at Exploria Stadium and start at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Inspired NYCFC look to continue run of form against third place Orlando
City Charge Mounting?
New York City FC
2nd in Eastern Conference; 6 pts. (2-1-0)
Form: W | W | L | – | –
Last match: 2-0 win vs. Philadelphia Union (A)
After a disapointing offseason and start of the 2021 campaign, NYCFC’s last two victories have been a temporary shadow to the problems of old. The latest of which: A statement victory against the defending Supporters’ Shield winners in their own backyard. The backline seems sturdy, goals are starting to come up top, and an adventageous depth seeing out matches, everything seems to be coming together as we turn to May.
Left side of that backline looking strong 👀💪
— New York City FC (@NYCFC) May 3, 2021
But the biggest improvement from the opening week loss was the improvements in midfield. James Sands, who struggled mightily in the loss to D.C. United, has restablished his place in the squad as a hybrid six that comes back as a third centerback late on in matches. This tactical switch has led to the fullback partnership of Anton Tinnerholm and Gudmundthor Thorarinsson to get much more involved in attack, making The Pigeons much more threatening in attack.
But the season is still very young, and with being only two games into a six game stretch vs. 2020 playoff teams, The Pigeons must garner every point they can get.
Injury Report: Heber (OUT; Surgery) Thiago Andrade (OUT; Visa) Maxime Chanot (Questionable) Gedion Zelalem (Questionable)
Lions Starting to Roar?
Orlando City SC
3rd in Eastern Conference: 5 pts. (1-0-2)
Form: W | D | D | – | –
Last Match: 3-0 win vs. FC Cincinnati (H)
The first MLS point in club history. The first win in Exploria Stadium history. Rodrigo Schlegel’s penalty save. Take a look at some of the greatest moments in Orlando City history, and you are likely to see the opposition in sky blue. Orlando, with their first league win of 2021 under their belt, seem in good position to add another one of those memories.
Defender or goalkeeper? Rodrigo Schlegel can do it all. 👏 pic.twitter.com/4RPoQRio8z
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) November 21, 2020
The Lions haven’t been without their drama this offseason, with the Daryl Dike loan move to Barnsley hovering over them as 2021 began. With Dike now secured in England until the end of the British season, Orlando pinned Tesho Akindele as the number nine to start this season, while new signing Alexandere Pato battles a nagging injury. While an MLS regular, Akindele only has one double digit scoring season under his belt, creating concern that a usual deadly attack may cause some dropped points.
Instead, it has been the defence that has stepped up and carried Orlando to third in the east. Led by second year center back Antonio Carlos and first year starter Rodrigo Schlegel, Orlando has been insipring in defence. No team in the east has conceded less goals (one) whilst only giving up an average of three shots on target per match.
Still unbeaten and with a friendly May schedule, the time for Orlando to build a Supporters’ Shield bid is now.
Injury Report: Alexandre Pato (OUT) David Loera (Questionable) Joao Moutinho (Questionable) Uri Rosell (Questionable)
- Orlando City (8-5-5) leads the all-time record vs. The Blues
- Orlando: 3-0-2 last five matches vs. NYCFC
- First Match: August 3rd, 2015 (1-1 Draw)
- Diskerud (NYC; 71’) Kaka (ORL; 91’)
- Last match: MLS Playoff Round of 16; 1-1 (Orlando won 7-6 on penalties)
- Top fixture goal scorers: Cyle Larin (9; ORL) David Villa (6; NYC) Chris Mueller (5; ORL)
While City have the slightly better form coming off three straight vistories, The Pigeons have yet to face a side with the caliber of play on all levels of the pitch as Orlando. With the rock solid back line that Orlando has created, it’s gonna be difficult for an already inconsistent City attack to generate much chances throughout the match.
While Orlando have lacked shooting boots of their own in past weeks, the idea of a Mueller and Nani wing partnership against two attack minded fullbacks screams Orlando being able to get in behind the blues this weekend. I have Orlando picking up a big three points at home, marking the start of a long unbeaten streak that may span the month of May.
Orlando City 2-0 NYCFC