MLS Caption: Orlando City eyeing third consecutive MLS playoff

Via Doug McIntyre
FOX Sports Soccer Writer

Editor’s Note: MLS Footnotes take you inside the main talking points around the league and across American football.

It’s still the best day in the history of Orlando City Soccer Club.

On a warm and sunny day in the late winter of 2015, in front of more than 62,000 purple-clad fans at the Citrus Bowl Stadium, the emerging Lions – who captured the imaginations of fans across the world. former center of Florida. kick a ball in Major League Soccer – drew with a fellow expansion team New York City FC 1-1 on a late free kick by the great Brazilian Kaká.

Looking around the packed stadium, it was impossible not to think that Orlando City was destined for success. Surely they will be challenged for the MLS Cups shortly.

Seven years later, things have not turned out that way. Orlando missed the knockout stages in each of their first five seasons. The arrival of coach Oscar Pareja two years ago stabilized the club, but NYCFC will head south this Sunday (7:30pm PT, FS1/FOX Deportes/FOX Sports app) as the defending tournament champion.

However, Sunday offers an opportunity for Leos. It could mark an inflection point for a home team desperately trying to secure a third straight landing after the season. Pareja’s Sqaud are on a much-needed road win, having taken a three-game losing streak and put them in fifth place in the Eastern Conference. Now they go home with some real motivation, or so it seems.

If MLS teams enjoy Biggest home advantage in North American sports, someone forgot to tell Orlando. The club have won just five of their 14 matches this season at the Exploria Stadium, the custom-built 25,000-seat downtown arena they moved into in 2017. Meanwhile, Pigeon edged out the Bronx (and Queens, and Connecticut) all year; Last weekend’s 2-0 win in Chicago helped them keep a seventh clean sheet on the road, twice the record LA Galaxy Set in 2010.

NYCFC has had Orlando’s score since even that opening game in 2015, undefeated (5W-0L-5T) in their last 10 meetings. But the away team is also vulnerable. Star striker Valentin Castellanos was moved to Girona in Spain La Liga last month and has not been replaced. Start moving forward Heber and Talles Magno only 12 goals in 48 games between them in 2022; Castellanos, last year’s Golden Shoe winner, had 13 of 17 before he departed. Championship-winning coach Ronny Deila also left mid-season for a new job in Europe.

So this is a match in favor of the home team. Only two points apart from Orlando and eighth place New England Revolutiona third straight win will provide some breathing room, bring the rest of the East into the spotlight and create real momentum ahead of the US Open Cup final on September 7, when Orlando will finally got a chance to play some silver (with all due respect due to the 2020 pandemic-inspired MLS Is Back Tournament, where they finished second to the Portland Timbers) against Cinderella secondary challenger Cong Peace of Sacramento in the presence of patient supporters.

What a possible day.


1. Best Western Meeting Place in Austin

Ahead of Sunday’s clash in the East, the top two teams in the West will face off Friday in the Texas capital. The inclination is somewhat different from their first meeting in May, when the second year Austin dizzy LAFC at Banc of California, temporarily took control of first place, and proved that its early-season success wasn’t a fluke.

Josh Wolff’s team quickly regained the top spot as recently as Week 20. But LAFC’s recent seven-match winning streak has created a split in the standings, with leaders Supporters Shield now nine ahead of Verde. points with only eight regular-season games left for both. clubs.

2. LAFC does not make transactions

With the possible exception of Toronto, LAFC won the summer transfer window with the addition of Gareth Bale, Giorgio Chiellini and the specified player Denis Bouangas, who was signed on August 5 right before the MLS deadline. However, windows in other parts of the world remain open for a little longer, and this week LAFC sent a pair of players to foreign clubs.

The first is the Uruguayan striker Brian Rodriguezthe person on Wednesday was moved to Liga MX powerful country Club America. Rodriguez never really found his feet in Southern California after arriving in 2019. He scored just eight goals in 55 games and spent 2021 on loan to Almería. From Spain second division, where he could not find the net in 16 appearances

Then, on Thursday, the club sent the Cameroon defender Mamadou Fall loan to La Liga club Villarreal. However, LAFC didn’t take long to make another addition. On Friday, the club announced the signing of the 31-year-old Spanish winger Cristian Tello. There are currently two former members of FC Barcelona’s youth academy, La Masia, in Los Angeles.

3. Galaxy is also supported

Not to be outdone by their cross-city rivals, LA Galaxy on Wednesday signed three-time Uruguay World Cup-winning defender Martín Cáeres until the end of the season, with a club option for 2023. The 35-year-old former Barcelona and Juventus man should defend Greg Vanney’s foam back lane. The Galaxy have conceded 37 goals in just 25 games, the most of any team in a playoff position in the West.

4. Roldan’s World Cup hope is a success

Cristian Roldan was a main member of Seattle Sounders since transferring to the University of Washington in 2015, helping Rave Green win two MLS Cups and two runners-up in the past seven years.

But if the CONCACAF champions want to extend their straight MLS playoff streak to 14 this fall, they’ll have to do it without the versatile midfielder, who underwent surgery on Wednesday. for sports hernia repair.

Roldan is expected to miss at least six weeks of competition, including next month’s two World Cup finals by the United States men’s team against Japan and Saudi Arabia, making his participation in Qatar he is suspected.

5. The cruel battle in Ohio

FC Cincinnati past the 2W-5L-1T start to spend most of the summer on the playoffs in the East. But the relationship of the past two weeks is against Atlanta United and New York Red Bulls have the FCC fight for their post-season life, which will add drama to Saturday’s “Hell is Real” derby against the rise Columbus Crew.

As an underdog team in 2017, Cincy famously defeated Crew to establish the rivalry and eventually ascend to the MLS throne. But they have beaten Columbus only once in nine attempts since taking the top flight. Columbus won the most recent meeting on July 17, with the new star Cucho Hernandez scored the winning goal of the game, and headed for Cincy on a six-game unbeaten streak away from home.

However, hosting the match will help the FCC, who have only lost once to Crew at TQL Stadium, in 2019.

One of the top football journalists in North America, Doug McIntyre has covered the US men’s and women’s national teams at multiple FIFA World Cups. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was an editor for ESPN and Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.

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