_825storylines2021

Big Time for Benji

Forward Benji Michel netted the deciding finish on Saturday in the Lions’ 1-0 shutout victory over the Chicago Fire, burying his shot inside the left post for his fourth finish of the season. Michel trails only Nani on the side in finishes this season, with 16 across all competitions since joining the side ahead of the 2019 MLS season. 

Homegrown Hero(es)

Benji Michel was not the only Homegrown to make an impact on Saturday night, with goalkeeper Mason Stajduhar recording the first clean sheet of his MLS career, tallying a single-game high five saves in the match. Stajduhar registered four of his five saves, after the 80th minute of play, including three in second half stoppage time to preserve the three points for the Lions. With a result on Friday, Stajduhar will set a new Club-record for consecutive matches unbeaten to start his Orlando City career, a record set by Tally Hall in 2015, now both tied with five.

Facing the Herons

City will look to remain unbeaten this season against its neighbors to the south on Saturday, holding a 1-0-1 record through the two sides’ previous matches in 2021. The Lions took a 2-1 come-from-behind victory on June 25 at DRV PNK Stadium, with Nani being involved on both finishes with the assist on an equalizer from Chris Mueller before ripping a shot from outside the area for the game-winner. The two sides then played to a 1-1 draw on Aug. 4 at Exploria Stadium, with Antonio Carlos scoring his first goal of the season in the fixture. 

A Chance at History

Head Coach Oscar Pareja has a chance to become the winningest coach in Club history on Friday night against Inter Miami after tying former head coach Jason Kreis for the all-time coaching wins record with his 22nd victory at the helm this past Saturday. Pareja will manage the side for the 51st time in all competitions on Friday night, holding a record of 22-11-17 through his Orlando City tenure. 

A Single-Season Best

Tesho Akindele set a new career-high for assists in a single season on Saturday night, picking the pocket of the Chicago defense and finding Benji Michel for the eventual game-winner. The helper served as Akindele’s fifth of the season and the second to help decide a fixture, the first coming on Mauricio Pereyra’s game-winner at D.C. United on May 16. 

Milestone Tracker

  • The Lions’ next clean sheet will match a single-season high with their seventh on the year, tying a record set in each of the 2015, 2017 and 2019 MLS campaigns. 
  • Nani is one goal away from 10 for the 2021 season, which would make him the second player in club history after Cyle Larin to record multiple double-digit goal seasons for the club in the MLS era.
  • Tesho Akindele is two goals away from 20 in his Orlando City career.
  • Antonio Carlos’ next start will be his 40th for City while serving as his 45th appearance.
  • Benji Michel’s next start will be his 30th as a Lion.

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