Preview: NYCFC (h).
When? Wednesday 14 October 4:30 p.m. PT, 7.30 p.m. ET 12:30 a.m. BST (15/10).
Where? Exploria Stadium, Orlando, FL.
How can I catch the action? MLS Live on ESPN+, DAZN, Yes and FOX 35 Plus. The game is currently selected for UK broadcast, via FreeSports (Freeview channel 64), live and on demand via the app as well. The game is available via radio locally, check local listings.
NYCFC are a team that prefer to monopolise possession of the ball. In their last 5 games, they have had at least 60% of the overall play in 3 of them, 50% in one more. In the remaining game, a 3-2 win over Fort Lauderdale, they had 41% of the play. A win, which was perhaps the most uncomfortable of their most recent victories. In short, they would much prefer to have the ball than not. Which sounds like something of an oxymoron, but there is truth to be found here. If Orlando can get on top of the likes of Alex Ring, Keaton Parks and James Sands they will be able to prevent them from dictating the play. Orlando's high press and intensity might be the key to victory here. Much like it was the last-time the two sides met.
Many possession-oriented sides, are often accused of being predictable. Often coming unstuck against a low block, or a high intensity counter attacking team. Not so with Ronny Deila's team. They are a much better team than their league position suggests. Their main issue? Their inability to finish chances. They've found the net 22 times this season, but are missing several key figures in their attack. Maxi Moralez and Heber both nurse injuries, and Alexandru Mitrita has recently departed the club. They've had more than 15 shots at goal in 4 of their last 5 games, including a whopping 31 in their recent win over D.C. United. They create chances, it's taking them on a consistent basis. That's the issue. They've only scored more than once in 7 games since the restart. 3of those games have been in their last 4 fixtures, though. There is some suggestion, that they may have found their scoring boots.
Orlando City received some positive news this week, in the form of Uri Rosell returning to training. This game will still be a tad too soon for the Spaniard, however. Orlando also continue to be without Pedro Gallese and Sebas Mendez. Both are currently away on international duty. Injury wise, the Lions continue to be without Dom Dwyer, Mauricio Pereyra, Joao Moutinho and Tesho Akindele. Ruan is nearing a return to fitness, so could be involved. As with Rosell, however, this game may be a little soon for the Brazilian.
No (confirmed) word yet on Matheus Aiás' date of availability, after Oscar Pareja stated he could have been medically cleared last week. The latest update is, as per Julia Poe, there is no real update.
As for NYCFC, they do find themselves somewhat depleted, heading into this game. The forward areas are a particular area of concern to Ronny Deila. They are without key players Moralez (knee injury) and Heber (torn ACL), the latter being ruled out for the season. The recent, and unexpected, departure of Mitrita has only served to compound their issues.
The Bronx side are also without Gedion Zelalem (knee injury) and Tayvon Gray (not medically cleared). Despite this, they are still in contention in the east.
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Possible starting XI
I think we'll see changes to the team that lost to New England a few days ago. NYCFC will need fresher legs to cope with the intensity of Orlando's play, not to mention the heat. That being said, they are currently nursing several significant injuries, so you get the sense Deila's hands are tied somewhat. I think they'll revert to the team that bested D.C. United 4-1, with Gary Mackay-Steven and Ronald Mattarita coming back in. They'll do so in a 4-2-3-1 formation, much like the one favoured by Oscar Pareja.
The benefits of NYCFC's formation, particularly when away from home, is that it almost becomes a 4-5-1 or a 4-3-2-1, to prevent overloads in midfield. Alex Ring is often used as a false 10, who will be able to plug any gaps in the midfield, if required.
In a game where NYCFC monopolised possession of the ball, with 71.8% of the overall play, Keaton Parks was instrumental. Parks ran the show in the demolition of D.C. United. With an overall pass completion rate of 86.1% of 86 passes attempted, Parks was certainly instrumental. NYCFC are a possession-oriented team, with genuine quality in wide areas. Parks is key to finding those players. Crucially, of those 86 passes, 8 were long balls; 8 found their intended target. When on form, the former Benfica man is incredibly dangerous. But equally understated. He may not be the flashiest of guys, but he has the ability to really make this team tick. Top player.
NYCFC don't head into this game in the best of form, particularly given their 2-1 loss to New England a few days ago. They currently sit 5th in the east, with an 8-2-7 record. With the Bronx club only being 4 points behind Orlando, they will see this as a real chance to gain some ground. And maybe, just maybe pull themselves into the Shield race.
Orlando, meanwhile, still have their 10-game unbeaten streak. The Lions have had a few more rest days than their opponents, owing to the postponement of the game against Columbus. Orlando are 8-6-2, having won 6 and drawn 4 of their last 10. Both Toronto and Philadelphia secured valuable wins over the weekend. Orlando have to win this game to keep in touch with the leaders.
*All statistics courtesy of whoscored.com and mlssoccer.com
Line-up graphic courtesy of chosen11.com