Orlando City-New York City FC Preview
New York City FC host Orlando City SC on their return to action at Yankee Stadium on Sunday with the aim of keeping their playoffs charge on track.
The Pigeons have won three home games on the spin, each held at Red Bull Arena, and are back in the Bronx this weekend following a spell away.
Ronny Deila's side's overall form is less impressive, having won four of their last 10 games home and away, leaving them holding onto a top-seven spot in the Eastern Conference.
But after returning to winning ways against CF Montreal in midweek, Deila is confident that his side are moving in the right direction.
"We're working on our style all the time and are improving all the time," he said. "We can still improve in both boxes. That is a positive challenge for us.
"We had plenty of chances against Montreal and have to take more of them. If we do that we will be even tougher to play against."
Orlando also returned to winning ways last time out thanks to a 2-1 win at home to Philadelphia Union, snapping a three-game winless streak.
That seventh win of the season leaves the Lions within five points of division-leading New England Revolution with a game in hand, and provides Oscar Pareja's side with a platform to build on heading into Sunday's match.
"Getting the win against the Union was fantastic in what was a difficult game," Pareja said.
"We wanted our fans to enjoy another victory after a period where we have been suffering a lot and have been trying to get the squad healthy."
New York City FC - Keaton Parks
This will be NYCFC's third game in eight days, so Deila - and indeed Pareja - will surely make further tweaks to his starting line-ups, with Parks one of those in contention to return to the XI. The 23-year-old has chipped in with a couple of goals in recent matches, making him his side's joint-fourth leading goalscorer this term, while his 438 ball carries is a tally bettered by only Jesus Medina and Maxi Moralez among City players.
Orlando City SC - Chris Mueller
Mueller surpassed Cristian Higuita as Orlando's all-time leading appearance maker in all competitions earlier this week, but the United States winger will not be sticking around for much longer. It was confirmed on Wednesday that Mueller will join Scottish side Hibernian at the end of the 2021 MLS season, but the 24-year-old - who has two goals and four assists this term - will have a big part to play before departing.
- Five of the last six matches between New York City FC and Orlando City have ended in draws (including Orlando advancing in a penalty shootout in last season's playoffs), with Orlando City winning the other meeting. This is the second time Orlando have gone six straight games without losing to NYCFC, also doing so from 2015 to 2017 (W5 D1).
- New York City FC have scored in 24 consecutive matches dating back to September 2020 (including playoffs), the longest streak in team history and the longest active streak in MLS.
- Orlando City have won three of their first seven away matches this season (D2 L2), equaling their total from each of the last two seasons. Orlando City have won more than three matches on the road just once in club history, winning five away matches in their inaugural 2015 campaign.
- New York City FC are the first team in MLS history to have two different goalkeepers record an assist in a single season after Luis Barraza's assist for Ismael Tajouri-Shradi's goal against CF Montreal. Sean Johnson had assisted on a Thiago goal against D.C. United on June 27.
- Nine of the last 11 Orlando City goals have been scored by Americans, with four different players netting those. The only non-American to score for the Lions since June 22 has been Nani.
Updated July 24, 2021