ORLANDO, FL – New York City FC return to Orlando City Stadium to take on the Lions for the third and final time this regular season.
With European seasons coming to an end it has been a week for boundless transfer rumors. No MLS player has been more prevalent in these rumors than Orlando’s Cyle Larin – and deservedly so; the Canadian national has done everything in his power to prove that he is the real deal. Larin has haunted the nightmares of the City back line to the tune of seven goals in nine matches.
City boss Patrick Vieira said in his weekly interview with NYCFC.com “It’s a tough one for us when you look at the results at the end but when you analyze properly the performances we had against Orlando in the two games this season, I think we outplayed them in both games.”
While statistically true, the only thing that matters at the end of the match is the scoreline, and in that statistic Jason Kreis’ side has the advantage. Winning the season-opener 1-0 and the follow-up 2-1 at Yankee Stadium, the former City coach sees each of his matches against the club as a challenge of well-matched foes: “[NYCFC] is a team we’re obviously very familiar with now having played against them for the third time. We have a very good understanding of what they’re about and what they’re trying to do and they have a very good understanding of us. At the end of the day it’s going to come down to who wants it more.”
Orlando currently sits in 2nd place in the Eastern Conference on 20 points from 11 matches. They are in a poor stretch of form, having dropped points in four straight matches (0-2-2). Coming off a condensed week with losses at Toronto and Houston and draws with Kansas City and San Jose, Orlando’s only advantage will be the home grounds where they remain unbeaten. They will also be without defenders Tommy Redding, who is with the US U20 World Cup squad, and Kevin Alston, out with a knee injury.
New York City trails Orlando by three points at 17, good enough for 5th in the East in 11 matches. Coming off an extremely disappointing lost to bottom-dwellers Real Salt Lake on Wednesday, the Boys in Blue will be looking to kill two birds with one stone on Sunday, returning to their winning ways and dispelling the curse of Jason Kreis looming over the club. City will be without Yangel Herrera, who is also away on International duty at the U20 World Cup with Venezuela (he captained his squad to a 2-0 win early Saturday morning over Germany). On the injury front, Ronald Matarrita remains sidelined with a high-ankle sprain, and Khiry Shelton is listed as “Questionable” with his nagging hamstring problems. The newest addition to the list is none other than Il Maestro Andrea Pirlo, out with a knee injury. His absence would seem to guarantee Tommy McNamara a chance to make up for a decidedly poor performance in Salt Lake City.
New York City hasn’t lost two matches in a row in just over a year, and Orlando is unbeaten in their last six matches against them. Something has to give.
NYCFC (4-3-3): Johnson; Sweat, Callens, Chanot, White; McNamara, Ring, Moralez; Wallace, Villa, Harrison
Orlando City SC (4-2-3-1): Bendik; Toia, Spector, Aja, Sutter; Higuita, Nocerino; Rivas, Kaka, Johnson; Larin
How To Watch:
Kickoff: 7:00pm EST
TV: Fox Sports 1 | Fox Deportes
Radio: WFAN (online)
Stream: Fox Sports GO app; MLS Live (Canada Only)