Welcome to your match thread for a Wednesday night US Open Cup Tropic Thunder match between Orlando City and the team’s Publix Enemies, Inter Miami CF, at Exploria Stadium (7 p.m. ESPN+). It is the first USOC meeting in the series, with two regular season match-ups in 2022. Teams will meet again on July 9 in Orlando and in Ft. Lauderdale on September 4th.
The Lions enter this round of the competition after defeating the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Philadelphia Union by identical 2-1 scores. Inter Miami won their first game of the tournament 1-0 at Miami FC of the USL Championship and drew in the round of 32 against South Georgia Tormenta FC of USL League One, winning 3-1 at home.
Here’s what you need to know before playing.
Orlando City are 3-2-2 (1-0-2 at home) in this fledgling series and every game so far has been decided by a single goal (or less, in the case of last year’s tie). The last time the teams played, the game ended in a goalless draw on August 27, 2021 in Orlando. Tesho Akindele missed a penalty in the game, but the Lions had several other good opportunities to score (but didn’t), in a wasted effort.
Orlando and Miami battled it out to a 1-1 draw at the previous meeting on August 4, 2021 at Exploria Stadium. Antonio Carlos scored in first-half injury time but was thrown into the concussion record by Kelvin Leerdam on the game. Kieran Gibbs equalized in the 66th minute with a header from a less than attentive Ruan. Akindele had a goal recalled after video review for being offside and the teams shared the points. At the start of the season, the Lions came from behind on June 25, 2021 in Fort Lauderdale and won 2-1 after two brilliant goals from Chris Mueller and Nani.
In the last game of 2000, the Lions saw their 12-game unbeaten streak end in a 2-1 away loss in Fort Lauderdale on October 24. Miami defender Leandro Gonzalez Pirez’s header in the 89th minute made the difference after a goal from Daryl Dike and an own goal from Robin Jansson tied the game at half-time.
The teams met in Orlando on September 12, 2020, with Orlando struggling for a 2-1 win through Mauricio Pereyra’s goal. The Lions took the lead through an Andres Reyes own goal. Former Lion Brek Shea equalized in the 65th minute before Pereyra responded with a beautiful goal from the left post in the 69th minute.
The first meeting in Fort Lauderdale opened up Phase 1 of Major League Soccer’s return to the regular season after the MLS is Back tournament. It was an unusually sloppy game for the Lions, who lost 3-2 in Inter Miami’s very first home game. It was Miami’s first franchise win from a 0-5-0 start. Orlando trailed by more than a goal in that game for the first time all season. Dike and Nani provided offense for Orlando, but Julian Carranza’s brace and Rodolfo Pizarro’s insurance goal were enough to lift the Herons.
The first Tropic Thunder match went to Orlando City, Nani scoring late to lead the Lions to a 2-1 win over the South Florida rookies in the opening game of the MLS is Back tournament. Although it was a tournament game, it was also a league game. Juan Agudelo opened the scoring for the Herons in the 47th minute, but Mueller equalized in the 70th minute and set the stage for Nani’s winner in the 97th minute. That late goal propelled the Lions on a run to the tournament finals and triggered their own shirt.
The Lions are 6-4-3 in MLS play so far in 2022 — they sit third in the Eastern Conference — but only 3-3-0 in league games played at home. Along with US Open Cup games, Orlando is 5-3-0 in all competitions at Exploria Stadium this season. All eyes will be on Orlando to see how the team reacts to Sunday night’s game in Austin, which saw referee Joe Dickerson firmly interfering in the game. Orlando’s well-deserved 2-0 lead slipped into a 2-2 draw, with both Austin goals helped by odd decisions from Dickerson. The second was particularly egregious as a rather obvious looking goal kick was awarded a corner and the hosts used it to level the game against the nine-man Lions in the 95th minute.
Despite the points lost, the Lions are undefeated in all competitions in a modest three games (2-0-1).
Inter Miami is 4-6-3 in MLS play and currently ranked 10th in the Eastern Conference. The Herons are 1-4-1 but hold an away win in this competition. Miami are 2-0-2 in their last four games in all competitions and have conceded just three goals in those competitions – two of them in a 2-2 home draw with DC United. It’s the team’s best form so far this season.
It’s a rivalry game, so anything can happen. History indicates that things will be tight.
The Lions need to take out Leonardo Campana, who leads the Herons with six goals this season and has also added two assists. Gonzalo Higuain is always a threat that takes very little space to change a game. His minutes have been limited this season and he’s been played from the wrong position at times, but he still has two goals and an assist. Ariel Lassiter leads the club with three assists and can also be dangerous in front of goal. On the other hand, the Herons got a strong goalkeeper from Drake Callender, who was voted this week’s MLS Team of the Week.
“We want to win the cup game,” Orlando City forward Ercan Kara said after Sunday’s game in Austin. “We want to win the derby. It’s a very important game for us and we need the support of the fans in our stadium. And we are looking forward to a good game.”
The Lions are without Antonio Carlos (left thigh), Benji Michel (right lower leg) and Silvester van der Water (left lower leg). There could also be some squad rotation after a hard-fought hundred minutes in Austin on Sunday night. Oscar Pareja pulled off attacking starters Mauricio Pereyra, Ercan Kara and Facundo Torres after the team brought down two men, so at least they didn’t go the distance.
Miami’s availability report was not public at the time of this writing. In fact, a look back at last few weeks’ MLS game guides shows no sign of Miami’s game notes where all other MLS teams post them.
Mandatory Game Content
Here is your mandatory game content for this one:
Orlando City (4-2-3-1)
Goalkeeper: Mason Stajduhar.
Defender: Kyle Smith, Robin Jansson, Rodrigo Schlegel, Ruan.
Defensive Midfielders: Cesar Araujo, Sebas Mendez.
Attacking midfielders: Junior Urso, Facundo Torres, Tesho Akindele.
Forward: Alexandre Pat.
Bank: Adam Grinwis, Joao Moutinho, Michael Halliday, Andres Perea, Mauricio Pereyra, Jack Lynn, Ercan Kara.
Goalkeeper: Drake Callender.
Defender: Christopher McVey, Aime Mabika, Damion Lowe, and Victor Ulloa.
Midfield player: Robert Taylor, Jean Mota, Gregor.
Forward: Emerson Rodriguez, Gonzalo Higuain, Indiana Vassilev.
Bank: Clement Diop, DeAndre Yedlin, Ryan Sailor, Joevin Jones, Bryce Duke, Ariel Lassiter, Leonardo Campana.
ref: Kevin Broadley.
AR1: Kevin Lock.
AR2: Justin Howard.
4: Alex Billeter.
how to watch
playing time: 19 o’clock
Venue: Exploria Stadium – Orlando.
Stream: The game can be streamed on ESPN+.
Enjoy the game. Go to town!
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