Orlando City

The Road Ahead: Everything you need to know for Orlando City's trip to take on Nashville SC

RoadAheadNSH

Orlando City (15-7-9, 54 points) vs. Nashville SC (11-15-4, 37 points)

When: Wednesday, 8:30 PM

Where: Geodis Park, Nashville, TN

Radio: 96.9 The Game, (English), Acción 97.9 FM (Spanish)

Everything you need to know for Orlando City Nashville SC in "The Road Ahead" driven by Audi:

Milestone watch

-- Milestones achieved in Saturday’s 3-0 win over CF Montréal – Orlando City set new club records for points (54) and wins (15) in a single season, while Oscar Pareja won his 60th game as Orlando City head coach.

-- Both Facundo Torres and César Araújo will be making their 75th appearances as Lions if they play Wednesday in Nashville. Torres was an MLS Player of the Matchday nominee after scoring his 13th goal of the year against Montréal. The goal equaled his tally from 2022  while also putting him past Kaká for third all-time on the Orlando City scoring charts.

-- Rodrigo Schlegel is two appearances away from 100 as an Orlando City player.

-- Orlando City’s next goal will be its 50th of the MLS regular season, matching the most the club has scored in a single season under Pareja. City’s single-season goals record is 55, set back in 2016, meaning the Lions need seven goals in their last three matches to pass it.

-- One to keep an eye on – Orlando looks likely to set a new club mark for fewest goals allowed in a full 34-game season. The current record is 48 (2021), while the 2023 Lions have only conceded 37 times. City gave up just 25 goals in the shortened 2020 season.

Stats and storylines

-- All eyes are on the Eastern Conference standings as Orlando City enters a massive two-game week looking to lock up second place. The Lions enter play two points ahead of New England (the Revs holding a game in hand), three points above Philadelphia, four up on Columbus, and five north of Atlanta with three games to play.

-- Finishing second would guarantee Orlando City home-field advantage not just in the best-of-three first round, but in a potential conference semifinal game as well. 

-- There is also CONCACAF Champions Cup qualification to look at. The top two teams in the Supporters’ Shield standings that aren’t conference winners (FC Cincinnati and St. Louis CITY) will qualify for the expanded tournament field in 2024. Philadelphia has also qualified through Leagues Cup, so their place in the standings won’t be relevant. Currently, Orlando and New England would fill those last two slots, with Columbus and Atlanta lurking.

-- If Orlando achieves its goals, Facu Torres is going to play a huge role. El Cuervo continued his scorching late-season form with another goal on Saturday against Montréal, giving him six in eight matches since the end of the Leagues Cup break. Torres also caused the Jonathan Sirois own goal that opened the scoring for Orlando. The Uruguayan was named to the MLS Team of the Matchday for the seventh time this season for his efforts.

-- Orlando City made no changes to its starting lineup on Saturday, the eighth time Oscar Pareja has gone back to the same XI this season. Seven of those instances came after June 1. Orlando City has started this exact lineup five times in eight matches since returning from Leagues Cup.

SERIES HISTORY

All-time vs. Nashville - 1-3-5, -3 GD (0-1-3, -2 GD away)

MLS only vs. Nashville, 1-2-4, -1 GD (0-0-3, 0 GD away)

  1. 2020 - W 3-1 (H), D 1-1 (A), L 2-3 (H)
  1. 2021 - D 1-1 (A), D 2-2 (A), D 1-1 (H), L 3-1 (A/MLS Cup Playoffs)
  1. 2022 - D 1-1 (6-5) (H/USOC)
  1. 2023 - L 0-2 (H)

Meet the opponent: Nashville SC

-- Orlando City is technically winless in eight matches against Nashville after defeating the Tennesseans in their first-ever matchup in 2020, a game known best for Daryl Dike’s head-wrapped “mummy” celebration. The Lions did get an emotional victory against NSC in the 2022 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, with Rodrigo Schlegel’s 94th-minute equalizer leading to a penalty shootout win, but that result is officially recorded as a draw.

-- A very different Lions team that had yet to find its footing fell 2-0 to Nashville back on April 1 at Exploria Stadium. Orlando got well and truly “Mukhtar’d,” as Nashville’s reigning MVP Hany Mukhtar assisted the first goal and scored the second for the visitors.

-- Mukhtar has been a thorn in the Lions’ side since coming to the league, scoring seven goals and adding five assists in just nine appearances against Orlando. That tally includes Mukhtar’s brace in City’s 2021 playoff defeat at Nissan Stadium.

-- Antonio Carlos is the only Lion with an MLS regular season goal against Nashville, though Mauricio Pereyra has four assists in six appearances.

-- This match marks Orlando City’s first-ever trip to Geodis Park, Nashville’s 30,000-seat soccer-specific stadium opened in May 2022. Orlando and Nashville have played to a draw in all three of their previous regular season encounters in Tennessee.

-- This game could be a potential playoff preview – if the season ended today, Orlando and Nashville would be first round opponents, with Games 1 and 3 (if necessary) in the series played at Exploria Stadium and Game 2 taking place at Geodis Park.