Orlando City Today | Lions 'ready and excited' for tough test in Mexico

As Orlando City prepares for its first two tests away from Exploria Stadium, first at Tigres UANL to open Concacaf Champions League play and then at D.C. United on Saturday, let's take a look at The Road Ahead driven by Audi:

Concacaf Champions League opener: Orlando City at Tigres UANL

When: Tonight, 10 p.m.

Where: Estadio Universitario, San Nicolás de los Garza, Nuevo León, Mexico

TV: FS2, TUDN

Radio: None

MLS Match 3: Orlando City (1-0-1) at D.C. United (1-1-0)

When: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Audi Field, Washington D.C.

TV: MLS Season Pass on Apple TV (subscription required)

Radio: Real Radio 104.1 FM (English), Acción 97.9 FM (Spanish)

Inside CCL | Orlando City goalkeeper Pedro Gallese on what it means to play in tournament

Milestone watch

➖ Tuesday night will mark Orlando City’s first-ever competitive match in Mexico and its debut in the CONCACAF Champions League. Orlando City did face Mexican side Santos Laguna in the 2021 Leagues Cup at Exploria Stadium, losing 1-0.

➖ Pedro Gallese’s next win will be his 40th as the starting goalkeeper. Gallese has yet to allow a goal through 180 minutes in 2023.

➖ Duncan McGuire and Shak Mohammed have yet to make their professional debuts. Among senior signings this window, Rafael Santos and Felipe Martins are still looking for their Orlando City debuts, while Ramiro Enrique is awaiting his first start.

Key storylines

➖ Orlando City notched back-to-back clean sheets to begin a season for the second consecutive season by holding FC Cincinnati without a goal last weekend. The Lions began last year with a 2-0 win over Montréal and a 0-0 draw in Chicago.

➖ Orlando has never gone three straight games without allowing a goal to begin a campaign. The Lions made it 13 minutes into their third match last year (against Cincinnati) before conceding.

➖ The Lions made five changes to their starting XI for the Cincinnati match. Orlando only made more than five changes between MLS matches once last season (six), in the two matches following their U.S. Open Cup Final victory in September.

➖ Orlando City is 2-3-3 in its first road match of an MLS season. The two wins came in the Lions’ first two seasons, with the club’s first win coming on the road against Houston in 2015. Orlando is 0-1-2 in away openers under Oscar Pareja.

Concacaf Champions League 101 | A guide to the 2023 tournament featuring Orlando City

Series history

➖ All-time vs. Tigres - First meeting

➖ All-time vs. Liga MX sides - 0-1-0, -1 GD (0-0-0, 0 GD away)

➖ All-time vs. D.C. United - 6-8-2, -3 GD (2-5-1, -5 GD away)

➖ MLS only vs. D.C. United - 6-8-1, -3 GD (2-5-0, -5 GD away)

  1. 2015 - L 0-1 (H), L 2-1 (A), W 1-0 (H)
  1. 2016 - L 4-1 (A), W 4-2 (H)
  1. 2017 - W 2-0 (H), W 1-2 (A)
  1. 2018 - D 1-1 (H), D 1-1 (2-4) (A/USOC), L 3-2 (A)
  1. 2019 - L 1-2 (H), L 1-0 (A)
  1. 2021 - W 0-1 (A), W 2-1 (H)
  1. 2022 - L 3-5 (H), L 2-1 (A)

Meet the opponent: Tigres

➖ Tigres is enjoying yet another successful season in Liga MX. The side sit second in the Clausura table behind clasico rivals Monterrey and have conceded the fewest goals of any team in the league (six through 10 matches).

➖ Tigres is one of the most decorated teams in North American soccer history, winning seven Liga MX titles and three Copa MX titles. Tigres has also won a CCL (in 2020) and finished as the runner-up in the 2015 Copa Libertadores and the 2021 Club World Cup.

➖ After three runner-up finishes, Tigres took home the 2020 edition of the CONCACAF Champions League, beating LAFC for the title at Exploria Stadium, which hosted the semifinals and final as a neutral site during the COVID-19 pandemic.

➖ Tigres possesses the most expensive roster in North American soccer. This January alone, the Mexican giants spent north of $30 million on just three players: Uruguayan midfielder Fernando Gorriarán from Santos Laguna ($13 million), Argentine forward Nicolás Ibañez from Pachuca ($10.7 million), and Brazilian center back Samir Caetano from Watford ($7 million). They also acquired Mexican international winger Diego Lainez on loan from Real Betis with a $7 million purchase option.

➖ Tigres superstar Andre-Pierre Gignac missed their past three league games with an injury, but he is expected to play on Tuesday night. Gignac has 5 G/2 A in seven appearances so far in the Clausura, and the Frenchman has amassed 185 goals in 320 total appearances since joining Tigres in 2015.

➖ Tigres had three players on the 2022 Liga MX All-Star roster against MLS last summer: winger Luis Quiñones, defensive midfielder and club captain Guido Pizarro, and left back Jesús Angulo.

➖ Stunningly, despite their pedigree, Tigres did not have a single player on a 2022 FIFA World Cup team. Fernando Gorriarán, Diego Lainez, Sebástian Córdova, Jesús Angulo, and others were involved in qualification, but none made a final roster.

➖ Tigres just had a change at manager for the second time in three months, as Diego Cocca left the side three weeks ago to take charge of the Mexican national team. Cocca had replaced Miguel Herrera, who was sacked in November. Former Tigres player and assistant coach Marco Antonio Ruiz is the current head coach.

➖ Orlando City’s introduction to competitive Mexican soccer will come at “El Volcán,” the nickname given to Tigres’ 42,000-seat Estadio Universitario on the campus of the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo Léon in Monterrey. The stadium opened in 1967 and played host to matches during the 1986 World Cup.

Orlando City fans travel to show their support in Mexico for Concacaf Champions League

Meet the opponent: D.C. United

➖ D.C. United manager Wayne Rooney is 4-0-0 against Orlando City as a player and manager combined, with something outrageous happening in all four games. Rooney assisted Luciano Acosta’s viral winner in August 2018, scored a free kick from just outside the corner in a 2019 win at Exploria Stadium, netted from 67 yards out to down Orlando later that summer in D.C., and saw his team score twice in second half stoppage time to stun the Lions at Audi Field this past July in his D.C. managerial debut.

➖ Both Orlando City and D.C. United own two season series sweeps apiece against the other. The Lions will meet the Black and Red twice this season, with the return game in Orlando set for April 22.

➖ D.C. forward Taxi Fountas scored four goals against Orlando City last season, including a hat trick on July 4 at Exploria Stadium and the 95th-minute winner in D.C. on July 31. Fountas is expected to miss this weekend’s game with an injury.

➖ Mauricio Pereyra and Facundo Torres both have a goal and an assist against D.C. United for Orlando City. Robin Jansson, Ercan Kara, and Felipe have also scored against the Black and Red in their careers.