Preview: NYCFC (h).
When? Sunday 28 August, 4.30 p.m. PT, 7.30 p.m. ET and 00:30 BST (00:30 29/8).
Where? Exploria Stadium, Orlando, FL.
How can I catch the action? The game will be broadcast on FS1 and Fox Deportes nationally. Local radio commentary is available on 96.9 The Game and Accion 97.9.
Orlando City head into a crunch game against old rivals New York City, off the back of two vitally important wins. It's going to be important to keep up the momentum against a New York team that have hit the skids themselves in recent weeks. Victory would go someway to making sure Orlando firm up that play-off spot, and will surely whet the appetite of the Exploria Stadium crowd ahead of the crunch US Open Cup final.
So, without further ado let's get straight into this one.
NYCFC are firmly established as a good attacking team, although they lost some of their potency with Valentin Castellanos' transfer to Girona; they top MLS for big chances missed with 45 (figure 1). That being said they're no slouches in front of goal, their 48 goals so far is only bettered by Austin FC, LAFC and Philadelphia Union. They like to attack down the sides and through the middle, although they marginally prefer the left flank (figure 2).
All of this is also built on a solid defence; New York City lead MLS in clean sheets with 13. They also have the 3rd best XGa in MLS at 1.39. They're a resolute outfit, with plenty of power in attack. This will be a tough game, but I think we all knew that already.
Figure 1 shows NYCFC's ranking for big chances missed.
Figure 2 shows NYCFC's attack sides on the season so far.
According to the MLS player availability report, Keaton Parks, Alexander Callens and Alfredo Morales are all out, whilst Maxi Moralez is listed as questionable. Santiago Rodriguez is suspended.
As for Orlando City, Robin Jansson and Jack Lynn are both listed as questionable. Joey DeZart and Alexandre Pato are out. Mauricio Pereyra is suspended.
This section will be updated as new information becomes available.
Possible starting XI
Thanks to Santiago Rodriguez's enforced absence, there will be at least 1 change to the line-up that beat Chicago. I can see Heber going in, with Talles Magno going wide left and Thiago tucking in.
NYCFC have a number of key attacking pieces and vital experience missing for this game, so their number 1's big game experience could prove vital. Johnson is firmly established as one of the best 'keepers in MLS. The US international has 13 clean sheets through 26 games so far this season and has made 69 saves.
NYCFC's win over Chicago last time out was their first in 5 and they'd lost the three games prior. That being said, they still sit 3rd in the east with a 13-6-7 record.
Orlando City, on the other hand, have won their last 2 and seemed to have halted their recent poor run of form. The Lions are back up to 5th on a 10-6-10 record.
*All statistics courtesy of fotmob.com and whoscored.com.
Cover image courtesy of Orlando City SC.
Media availability and b-roll footage courtesy of Orlando City SC.
Line-up graphic courtesy of chosen11.com.