On Thursday, July 26th, NYCFC will travel to Orlando to face a club that they have already beaten twice on the year by an aggregate score line of 5-0. After twelve days off, NYCFC will face Orlando City, then onto Seattle on the weekend for a Sunday afternoon contest with the Sounders.
With the trio of David Villa, Ismael Tajouri-Shradi, and Jo Inge Berget finally back at training and listed as Questionable on the injury report, it is up to Domè to decide how to ease the three attackers back into the team. I believe that the best course of action is to give Villa and Tajouri-Shradi the start on Thursday, and allow Berget to play up front against a physical Seattle team on Saturday. Jesus Medina’s recent performances warrant another start, and we will almost certainly see Jonathan Lewis off the bench. The midfield three should stay intact and the backline of Sweat, Chanot, Callens, and Tinnerholm should remain as well. Do not be surprised for Rodney Wallace to grab minutes up front, or Ronald Matarrita and Sebastien Ibeagha to start in the back.
Although entering the game on a three match win streak, NYCFC will look to change their away form on the year under Domè. City are 2-4-3 away from the Bronx this season, which is undoubtedly disappointing. Facing back-to-back away games in a span of four days however, the boys in blue will look to turn the tides.
Losers of ten of their last eleven games, Orlando have been in horrific form. Coming off a heartbreaking added time long-shot from Wil Trapp to lose 3-2 to the Crew, Orlando are desperate to find points and get themselves back in the playoff race.
In NYCFC’s second meeting with Orlando this season, City began just as they did in the first match, with an opening goal. The boys took an early lead off a curled Ismael Tajouri-Shradi shot from inside the 18. The second half started poorly for NYCFC with Alexander Callens bringing down Sacha Kljestan in the box for a penalty. Luckily, Kljestan missed off the post. In the 78’, Tajouri-Shradi scored his second, fooling Joe Bendik on a free kick whipped with power into the area. This match was one where Jonathan Lewis made his presence known for one of the first times this season, beginning a chaotic sequence in front of net that included two shots off the crossbar. The play was finally put away by Maxi Moralez, finishing off the game 3-0.
All-time Series: 4-5-2
Only 4 points behind Atlanta United in the Supporters’ Shield race with two games in hand, every match, regardless of opponent, is of the utmost importance to City. On the other side, Orlando sit six points out of a playoff position, and hold the worst goal difference in Major League Soccer with a minus 16.
NYCFC: Jonathan Lewis
NYCFC is coming off quite possibly the most successful week in the history of the club, and most fans will point to Jonathan Lewis as the reason why. The 21 year old winger has taken the opportunity given to him by Domè, and has disappointed no one. Lewis began the week with the game winning assist in the Derby, followed by a headed goal against Montreal, and topped it off with a composed assist against the Crew. He leads Major League Soccer in expected goals plus assists per 96 minutes from players with 100+ minutes, and makes his mark whenever he steps foot on the pitch. While fans will call for him to start, Lewis has thrived in the “super-sub” role, and his speed against tired legs of defenders late in games is irreplaceable. If his red-hot form continues, the sky's the limit.
Orlando: Sacha Kljestan
Familiar to City fans from his time in New Jersey, Sacha Kljestan has been one of the only bright spots for the Lions this season. The attacking midfielder ranks sixth in MLS in key passes, and is coming off arguably his best match of the season, tallying a goal and an assist in only sixty minutes. No player is more important to the success of Orlando City than Sacha Kljestan.
Goals: David Villa (8), Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (8), Maxi Moralez (7)
Assists: Maxi Moralez (10), Jesus Medina (7), David Villa (4)
Away Goals: Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (4)
Goals: Dom Dwyer (8), Sacha Kljestan (5), 3 Players (3)
Assists: Yoshi Yotun (6), Sacha Kljestan (5), Chris Mueller (5)
Home Goals: Dom Dwyer (6)
Follow Nick Fiorino on Twitter at @stretch_fio and The Third Rail at @ThirdRailSC. Interested in learning more about the Third Rail? Visit our website at thirdrail.nyc for merchandise, weekly game previews and more. Interested in joining? Click here.
Watch NYCFC v Orlando on ESPN at 8:00 ET or Listen on WNYE 91.5 FM