Orlando City To Face New York City FC Again On Sunday

By  //  July 24, 2015

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On March 8, two new expansion franchises opened the 2015 MLS season. Nearly five months later, Orlando City SC and New York City FC will face off once again. (Orlando City image)

On March 8, two new expansion franchises opened the 2015 MLS season. Nearly five months later, Orlando City SC and New York City FC will face off once again. (Orlando City image)

ORLANDO, FLORIDA – On March 8, two new expansion franchises opened the 2015 MLS season. Nearly five months later, Orlando City SC and New York City FC will face off once again.

While both teams have taken different paths through the course of the season, they have arrived at a similar crossroad.

Both clubs notched their first wins of their MLS existence the weekend following the historic 1-1 draw at the Orlando Citrus Bowl. City defeated the Houston Dynamo in Texas 1-0, while NYCFC beat the New England Revolution 2-0 at Yankee Stadium in New York—but that’s where the paths began to differ.

After their historic home win in front of 43,507 observers, NYCFC began to struggle just as most expansion sides do. Over the next 11 games the new team lost seven and drew four. They wouldn’t win another game until June 6, when they defeated the Philadelphia Union at PPL Park nearly three months after that first victory.

Shortly after that win, NYCFC crashed out of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup to the crosstown rivals New York Cosmos.

However, things started to pick up in MLS play. Buoyed by their win in Philadelphia, NYCFC won four of their next five games with their only loss coming to the New York Red Bulls. The streak allowed the nascent team to climb the standings and into the playoff picture.

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After Orlando City’s first win in Houston, the squad took a different trajectory. Despite devastating injuries and international call-ups, the Lions continued to grab points never losing more than two straight games. To date, the Lions have only lost back-to-back league games twice.

The Lions secured their second win in Portland on April 12, after a draw and two losses. That’s when they hit their first losing streak falling to the Columbus Crew 3-0 and Toronto FC 2-0. Their most memorable win came on May 17, when City defeated the defending champion LA Galaxy 4-0 in front of 40,122 – the second highest recorded attendance at the Citrus Bowl.

Orlando City would carry the momentum of that win forward and collect points out of their next six games, including five league games and a win over former rivals Charleston Battery in the U.S. Open Cup after 10 rounds of penalty kicks, following a 4-4 tie in regulation at Blackbaud Stadium.

The league point streak consisted of three wins and two draws which included an exciting 3-2 win over the Chicago Fire capped by a memorable Cyle Larin goal.

The Lions strong play continued as they picked up points in three of their next four games and advanced to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open Cup. However, with red cards in three straight games, the Lions have only gained one point in their last three – dropping them from third to sixth in the Eastern Conference.

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With just over half the season gone, Orlando City and NYCFC will face off again on Sunday for the second time. While the Lions sit in the conference’s sixth and final playoff spot with 24 points, NYCFC is just behind in ninth, but is only three points back of that valuable sixth position.

Kaka

Kaka

Orlando City has the spine of their team in tact which has carried them to this point in the season. Led by captain Kaká, Adrian Heath and the return of international call-ups have the Lions hoping they could climb the table once again.

Meanwhile, NYCFC has been biding their time as they wait for two international stars to join their roster. After a confusing contract situation which saw Chelsea legend Frank Lampard join NYCFC’s sister club Manchester City, the midfielder could make his debut Sunday afternoon if healthy.

The other anticipated addition was Italian legend Andrea Pirlo, who recently joined NYCFC following his four year stint with Italian giant Juventus. It’s uncertain if he will make his debut this coming weekend or not.

It’s been nearly five months since these two expansion clubs faced off in their first MLS game. While they have both taken very different paths, they are now in a similar position with hopes of rising higher in the Eastern Conference standings. That rise will start for one team or the other on Sunday afternoon when the two face off at Yankee Stadium in New York.

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