Orlando City (2-1-2, 8 pts) comes back to the City Beautiful this weekend to start a run of four of five matches at home, starting this Saturday against Western Conference powerhouse Los Angeles FC (3-0-1, 10 pts). The match, presented by Heineken, is set to kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET and will be televised locally on FOX35 PLUS and LionNation TV beginning at 7 p.m. Local radio coverage will also be available from 7 p.m. on Real Radio 104.1 in English and Acción 97.9 FM in Spanish.
Here’s everything you need to know about LAFC:
Key Transactions and Player News
Key Additions - Head Coach Steve Cherundolo, CM Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids), GK Maxime Crépeau (Vancouver Whitecaps), DM Ilié Sanchez (Sporting Kansas City), LB Ryan Hollingshead (FC Dallas), RW Ismael Tajouri-Shradi (NYCFC), RB Franco Escobar (Atlanta United)
Key Departures - Head Coach Bob Bradley, DM Eduard Atuesta (Palmeiras), CB/RB Tristan Blackmon (Vancouver Whitecaps), LWB Raheem Edwards (LA Galaxy), LB Marco Farfan (FC Dallas), GK Pablo Sisniega (Charlotte FC), RB Kim Moon-whan (Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors)
News - LAFC had four players qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup this past week. Goalkeeper Maxime Crépeau and center back Doniel Henry both reached the tournament with Canada, while central midfielder Jose Cifuentes and left back Diego Palacios got to Qatar with Ecuador. In addition, Uruguayan winger Brian Rodriguez is a recently-capped player who will have a chance to go with his country, though he was not included in Diego Alonso’s squad for this window. LAFC’s marquee offseason acquisition, midfielder Kellyn Acosta, is almost certain to go through with the United States barring a loss of six goals or more against Costa Rica on Wednesday.
Take a look at LAFC’s full roster here.
LAFC had a disappointing 2021 season, failing to qualify for the Audi MLS Cup Playoffs for the first time in club history and parting ways with inaugural head coach Bob Bradley at the end of the season. GM John Thorrington opted to make every single one of his offseason acquisitions players with MLS experience, with both Acosta and Crépeau costing more than a million dollars in General Allocation Money each. The strategy has paid off so far – LAFC is top of the West with the league’s second-best goal differential through the first month of the year.
Orlando City and LAFC have only faced three times since the Black and Gold came into the league in 2018. The two clubs’ last meeting was by far their most momentous, taking place in the MLS is Back Tournament quarterfinals. Heavy underdogs entering the game, Orlando valiantly overcame a late deficit with a João Moutinho 90th-minute equalizer, against his former club, and went on to win in penalties, cementing its place as a contender in Major League Soccer. In the regular season, the Lions have a loss and a draw against LAFC, having not faced the Black and Gold in league play since 2019.
Rasmussen University Fact
We mentioned Rodriguez earlier, the Uruguayan winger with a chance of reaching the World Cup with the national team. His direct replacement at former club Peñarol was none other than Orlando City’s Facundo Torres, who broke out and led Los Carboneros to a league title and signed with the Lions as a Young Designated Player this past offseason. Torres was included in the March qualifying squad for Uruguay.