When? Tuesday July 14, 8 p.m. ET, 5 p.m. PT and 1 a.m. (July 15) GMT.
Where? ESPN Wide World of Sports, Walt Disney World in Bay Lake, FL.
How can I catch the action? On TUDN for residents of the United States and TSN for Canadian residents. Free Sports (Freeview channel 64, and on the app) for us U.K. folk. You can also listen locally on 96.9 The game and 810AM ACCION (ESP).
New York City FC head into this rivalry match-up on the back of a disappointing defeat to the Philadelphia Union. The Pigeons were the better side on the day; they were unfortunate to lose the game courtesy of a well hit strike from Alejandro Bedoya for Philly. Ronny Deila is off to a rotten start as NYCFC boss, going 0-0-3 so far. Despite this alarming statistic, the former Celtic manager will have been buoyed by what he saw from his side. Particularly in the absence of Alexandru Mitrita.
The Pigeons prefer a possession-based style, which allows them to operate on the front foot. Against the Union NYC maintained 60% of the play with an impressive 88% pass completion rate. They created 3 goal scoring chances from 17 shots (7 being on frame). This style, especially when you consider the Florida heat, has the potential to wear teams down. Expect this to be NYCFC's approach to the game.
One interesting facet of NYC's performance, at least from Oscar Parejas' point of view, will have been the inability of Castellanos and Tajouri-Shradi to get in to dangerous areas down both flanks. Philly were allowing their full-backs (Gaddis and Wagner) to push up on the NYCFC wingers (see figure 1). This is something we know Ruan and Joao Moutinho do well for us. For that reason, I believe Pareja will opt for a 4-2-3-1 formation as he did against Fort Lauderdale.
Orlando's 4-2-3-1 counteracts NYCFC's version nicely, as it allows the two defensive midfielders to cover for the full-backs as they push on. The same can be said of Ring and Parks for NYC. This game certainly has the potential to be an interesting tactical encounter. I still believe the 3-5-2 is our strongest formation overall, but for this game we would run the risk of leaving the back 3 exposed to an overload. And with NYCFC's attacking arsenal (they scored a league leading 63 goals in the 2019 regular season), that's a dangerous game.
Figure 1. Castellanos and Tajouri-Shradi weren't able to get too many touches in dangerous areas against the union possibly due to Harris and Wagner pushing up and playing such a high line. Something that could work in Orlando's favour.
Ronny Deila does have some injury concerns heading into this game, however. Tony Rocha and Sebastien Ibeagha are both still listed as questionable with hamstring and calf injuries respectively. Both missed the game against the Union, as did star player Alexandru Mitrita. The Romanian forward picked up a knock in training prior to the game against Philadelphia. NYCFC are currently monitoring his fitness. Though, at the time of writing, it remains unclear how likely the forward is to feature.
One player who will definitely miss out is Maxi Moralez. The NYCFC danger man will undergo an MRI scan today (July 13) and could be out for 'many weeks' according to his manager. Whilst it's never nice to see a player go down with an injury (we wish him well), his absence will be a huge boost for Orlando. The Argentine forward has 4 goals and 4 assists from 9 appearances against the Lions.
Orlando City on the other hand have no fresh injury concerns following on from their opening win over Inter Fort Lauderdale (at least, at the time of writing). Oscar Pareja will be hoping that his team can secure the win that could potentially see them through to the knockout stages.
Possible starting XI for NYCFC
I believe that Ronny Deila will stick with his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation. The injury to Moralez is certainly problematic for the Pigeons. Former Celtic forward Gary Mackay-Steven came in and looked lively against the Union. The Scot was even denied a late leveler by the quick thinking of the Philly 'keeper Andre Blake. I expect him to deputise in the number 10 role in an otherwise unchanged side.
The ability to use 5 substitutes somewhat negates the need to rotate their line-up, given how dangerous they looked in their opener. If Mitrita is fit enough to take his place on the bench alongside the likes of Jesús Medina then NYCFC will be in good shape.
Figure 2. The Pigeons' possible line-up.
Héber signed for the club in 2019 from HNK Rijeka of Croatia having scored an impressive 25 goals from 38 appearances. The striker did not disappoint during his first season in MLS. The lively Brazilian forward scored an impressive 18 goals off of 56 shots for New York in 2019. One of those 18 goals came in a draw with Orlando in the baseball stadium (see below). He is a constant goal threat. Marshaling him well could be the key to victory for the Lions.
As previously mentioned NYC comes into this game off the back of a loss, whilst Orlando will be full of confidence following on from their cardiac cat display in the opener. NYCFC are 0-0-3 on the season, whilst Orlando are a steady 1-1-1.
These two clubs met on 3 separate occasions in 2019. And none were dull. The clubs played out 1-1 and 2-2 draws in the league, firstly at Yankee Stadium and secondly at Exploria. The Lions then went on to best the Pigeons 5-4 on penalties following a 1-1 draw at Exploria Stadium in the US Open Cup quarter final. Who could ever forget the running of the wall?