1 - The King Returns
For the first time this season, Orlando City will have the services of 2-time reigning MLS Assist King Sacha Kljestan available for selection. Kljestan led MLS with 20 assists in 2016 and 17 in 2017. Kljestan’s 51 regular season assists are the most in the league since 2015. Kljestan was acquired, along with $150,000 TAM, from the New York Red Bulls in exchange for F Carlos Rivas and D Tommy Redding on Jan. 3.
Kljestan has 1 goal and 10 assists in 10 career games against NYCFC. Additionally, F Justin Meram has 3 goals and 4 assists in 7 appearances against NYCFC. GK Joe Bendik has is 4W-1L-1D with 2 clean sheets in 6 games against NYC.
2 - The Real Bronx Bombers
The Lions are 2-1-1 all-time at Yankee Stadium and are unbeaten in their last 3 matches in the Bronx. City has taken 2 of 3 season series against the Pigeons, going 2-0-1 in 2016 and 2-1-0 in 2017 after taking 4 points each from 3 games in 2015. Both teams have scored 14 goals in 9 matches in the all-time series. City’s 5-2-2 all-time record against NYCFC is its best against any MLS opponent and its 2-1-1 record at Yankee Stadium is tied with its record at Toyo- ta Park (Chicago Fire) for its best in any road venue.
3 - Perfect From The Spot
Orlando City is perfect from the penalty spot in 2018. GK Joe Bendik made a spectacular save against Darren Mattocks on March 3, and M Yoshimar Yotún converted his penalty to equalize against Minnesota on March 10. Yotún’s goal was the first penalty attempted in his professional career and was City’s first goal from the penalty spot since Sept. 7, 2016, when Kaká scored in Montreal.
Bendik’s save on Mattocks was the 4th penalty save of his career (Sept. 7, 2016 vs. Drogba, MTL; April 3, 2016 vs. Adi, POR; Sept. 13, 2014 w/ TOR vs. Larentowicz, CHI) and City’s 4th penalty save in the MLS era (Tally Hall Aug. 16, 2015 vs. Martins, SEA). Bendik faced one penalty kick at Yankee Stadium, on which David Villa slipped and skied over the bar on April 23.
4 - History For RJ?
If he plays on Saturday, D RJ Allen will become the first player to play on both sides of the 2015 Expansion Rivalry. Allen made his first series appearance on May 29, 2016, when he assisted in a 2-2 draw at Yankee Stadium. Allen then played 77 minutes in the inaugural match at Orlando City Stadium on March 5, 2017, and 53 minutes in NYCFC’s 3-0 win on May 21. Allen appeared in both of City’s first 2 games.
However, Allen is not the first player to play for both 2015 expansion rivals. GK Josh Saunders made 66 appearances for NYCFC from 2015 to 2016 before joining the Lions in 2017. Saunders was the backup goalkeeper on 25 18-man gameday rosters but never appeared in MLS for City, instead starting City’s lone U.S. Open Cup match.
5 - Familiar Faces
M Yoshimar Yotún was teammates with NYCFC F Jo Inge Berget and D Anton Tinnerholm at Malmö FF (Sweden) from 2015 to 2017. Yotún is also teammates with NYC D Alex Callens with the Peru national team. M Richie Laryea was teammates with NYC D Saad Abdul-Salaam at the University of Akron in 2014. Lions assistant coach CJ Brown was teammates with NYC GK Sean Johnson at Chicago Fire in 2010.
6 - By The Numbers
Through 2 games, Orlando City ranks... (per WhoScored.com)
4th in overall possession (55.5%)
6th in passing accuracy (81.5%)
8th in Shots per game (16)
6th in Shots Allowed per game (11.5)