Preview: NYCFC (a).
Updated: Oct 2
When? Sunday October 6, 10 a.m. PT, 1 p.m. ET and 6 p.m. BST.
Where? Red Bull Arena, Harrison, NJ.
How can I catch the action? The game will be broadcast live via MLS Live on ESPN+ and DAZN. For residents of central Florida, it's Fox 35 Plus and LionNation TV. Radio commentary is available on 96.9 The Game and Accion 97.9 FM. The game is not currently scheduled for UK broadcast.
Orlando City head into this crucial clash against NYCFC off the back of that barnstorming win over Toronto. Believe it or not, it was actually my first ever live victory! My first game was in 2011! If Orlando carry any of the momentum from their Toronto win into this game, they could give themselves more than a realistic chance of securing a home play-off berth.
We've had some real humdingers against the Big Apple club over the years, and I can this game being another classic. NYCFC have been in patchy form, but have picked up a couple of results lately.
Nick Cushing's side haven't been in the greatest form, overall, since the former Manchester City Women manager took over. They're still a side that's packed with ability, however. The departure of Tati Castellanos in the summer was undoubtedly a huge blow. As was the loss of Ronny Deila to Standard Liege.
Despite their recent struggles, they are a difficult opponent at home. I know this game will take place at Red Bull Arena, which could help Orlando. But you have to take their home form as is. They have won 9 games, scoring 35 times in NY/NJ for a +17 GD (figure 1). It's their form away from home, that's really scuppered their Supporters Shield chances. Outside of NY/NJ, they have lost 8, won 5 and have a -3 GD.
This is a team that's full of creativity, a team that likes to dominate the ball; they rank second in MLS for overall possession with 57.1% (figure 2). They have an XG of 56.6 and rank in the top for both big chances created and shots on target per match. The champions are going to be a difficult opponent this weekend, make no mistake.
Figure 1 shows NYCFC's overall form.
Figure 2 shows NYCFC's possession ranking.
Alfredo Morales and Heber are both set to sit out for NYCFC, due to injury.
As for Orlando City, Cesar Araujo and Robin Jansson are both questionable. Alexandre Pato and Joey DeZart are out.
This section will be updated as new information becomes available.
Edit (gameday) Cesar Araujo is no longer listed as questionable.
Possible starting XI
Barring any late injury concerns, I can't see them deviating from the line-up they put out against the Red Bulls:
The Argentine playmaker hasn't had his best season in New York, at least in terms of numbers. So far this season, through 27 games, he has 2 goals and 6 assists. You count him out at your peril, though. He is a quality player, who is more than capable of turning any game on its head, given half the chance. He's at his best when he finds those little pockets of space on the edge of the area. He ranks 23rd in MLS for big chances created, with 9 and has created 67 chances in total according to fotmob.com. The loss of Tati Castellanos has undoubtedly been huge for both Moralez and NYCFC. If he were still around, it's not difficult to believe that Moralez's assist numbers would be higher.
NYCFC endured a wretched run of form through July and August, winning only 1 of 10 and losing 7. It's probably the only reason we have a chance at a home play-off still. They have turned things around recently however, dispatching Atlas in the Campeones Cup, before winning the Hudson River derby.
Orlando City, on the other hand, bounced back from consecutive post US Open Cup Final defeats by hammering a hapless Toronto side 4-0 at Exploria Stadium.
*All statistics courtesy of fotmob.com.
Top player image and cover image courtesy of Orlando City SC.
Media availability footage courtesy of Orlando City SC.
Line-up graphic courtesy of chosen11.com