Competition: Major League Soccer – New York City FC vs. Orlando City SC
Venue: Yankee Stadium – Sunday, July 26 – 14:30 ET (19:30 BST – Live on Sky Sports 5)
Match Odds: NYCFC 11/10 – Draw 12/5 – Orlando City 23/10
The two MLS Expansion Franchises met back in March on opening weekend in what was the first ever MLS game for both clubs. Kaka’s late deflected free-kick cancelled out a Mix Diskerud strike to earn a point at the Citrus Bowl in what was an entertaining game and a similar match is expected in this one.
Neither side come into the game in good form though, with just three league wins in their last ten combined games between them, so if either is able to take three points from Sunday’s clash they will be delighted.
NYCFC could be boosted by the debuts of Designated Players Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo, though Jason Kreis has not yet confirmed whether the two midfield legends will definitely feature against the Lions.
Their debuts can’t come soon enough for New York City fans as they look to climb into the playoff places with just three months to go. They are currently three points off Orlando in the last remaining playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and could end the weekend in sixth as a result.
Kreis will be expecting his side to respond from last week’s 1-0 loss at New England but will hope they can perform better defensively than in their last home game as Toronto put four past them in that crazy 4-4 draw.
Orlando come into the game off the back of two straight 2-0 defeats at home. New York Red Bulls followed FC Dallas in beating the Lions last weekend and Adrian Heath will be looking for a response against their expansion rivals here.
They’ve only won one of their last six away from home, however, and need to make sure they perform much better if they’re to take anything from Sunday’s encounter.
New York City’s main team news regards Lampard and Pirlo, though it’s not clear whether both will feature on Sunday. Lampard has missed the last two weeks with a calf strain but could play here, while Pirlo trained for the first time with NYCFC on Thursday and will be in contention to start. Jason Hernandez and Ned Grabavoy are both suspended, while George John and Tony Taylor are out. Connor Brandt, Javier Calle and Sebastian Velasquez are all doubtful. Mix Diskerud is still away at the Gold Cup and won’t feature.
Orlando have several concerns too. Christian Higuita is ruled out through suspension, while Kevin Molino, Martin Paterson, Tony Cascio, Brek Shea and Harrison Heath are all out injured. Kaka is fit and will hope to inspire his team to victory.
New York City’s last five: W/L/W/D/L
Orlando City’s last five: L/W/D/L/L
Key Stat: NYCFC have the worst home record in MLS, having picked up just ten points from a possible 30 at Yankee Stadium.
Key Player: David Villa – Two new DPs may be grabbing all the attention in New York right now, but it’s David Villa who has carried the team so far. He has ten goals and will look to lead his side to victory here.
New York City FC 2-2 Orlando City – Tough to separate the sides as another score draw could be on the cards. Neither side are at full strength but there should be goals in what will be an open and entertaining game. If Lampard and Pirlo make their debuts, NYCFC will be difficult to beat but that’s a big ‘if’.