Orlando City and New York City FC have gotten to know each other quite well over the years. As expansion counterparts, the two clubs have been in Major League Soccer since joining the league in 2015; they opened that expansion campaign against one another, they opened Exploria Stadium together, and they welcomed Orlando into the MLS Cup Playoffs life last season.
On Sunday, the Lions (7-3-4, 25 points) will see their northern rivals for the second time this season as they face off against NYCFC (6-5-2, 20 points) at Yankee Stadium (6 p.m. ET, FOX35 Plus & LionNation TV).
“Another important match for us against a team that we’ve had good derbies against over the last year and a half,” head coach Oscar Pareja said on Friday. “Obviously they have a very defined model of their game that we know – surely, they know us too. It will be important that we come with the same energy, same desire, execute the game plan that we have and be optimistic that we will bring three points.”
July has been anything but an easy month for Orlando, which opened with a pair of losses but have turned things around over the last week with a 1-1 draw in Canada against Toronto FC and a 2-1 victory at home over the Philadelphia Union on Thursday night. Benji Michel and Andres Perea scored the goals on Thursday, and Mauricio Pereyra picking up a pair of assists.
NYCFC has found great success themselves in July. While the home side is coming off of a 1-0 victory over Montreal this week, a pair of 2-1 losses at Columbus and Montreal preceded that victory.
Both sides are capping off a week of three games in eight days, so heavy legs and heavy squad rotation should be something to look for when the lineups come out shortly before kick-off.
- Forward Tesho Akindele was called in as a replacement for the Canadian Men’s National Team at the Gold Cup and will be out for Sunday’s match
- Robin Jansson, who broke his nose against Philadelphia on Thursday, traveled with the Lions to New York, according to Pareja. “He is fine. I’m not too worried about him.”
- Alexandre Pato is getting very close to returning, and could even feature this weekend.
- Sebastian Mendez played in a u-23 friendly against Philadelphia on Thursday, moving closer to a First Team return.
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