Against the Expansion
Since joining Major League Soccer in 2015, the Lions hold a 3-1-1 record in Orlando against expansion clubs in their debut seasons. Their most recent result came at the MLS is Back Tournament in a 2-1 win over Inter Miami in the competition’s opening match, with a stoppage-time game-winner from Nani serving as the difference in that one. A year ago, City dominated 2019 expansion side FC Cincinnati with a 5-1 win at Exploria Stadium. In the Lions’ inaugural campaign, they pulled off a dramatic 1-1 draw against New York City FC in their first MLS match, as well as a 2-1 victory over the Pigeons that same season.
A First for the Rookie
Daryl Dike netted both his first professional goal and assist in his first start in Major League Soccer on Saturday at Inter Miami. Dike scored the Lions’ first goal of the evening in the 18th minute and then added a secondary assist on Nani’s finish in the 80th. With that, Dike became the first Orlando City MLS SuperDraft selection to notch his first goal and assist in his first start in Club history. Former Lions forward Cyle Larin was the last to score a goal in his first professional start on April 12, 2015 in Orlando City’s inaugural campaign.
Continuing the Form
Nani netted his second goal of MLS regular-season play on Saturday night, scoring in the 80th minute for the Lions. The goal served as the City captain’s fourth across all competitions and his eighth goal contribution of the season following a three-goal and four assist effort in the Lions run at the MLS is Back Tournament that earned him Best XI honors. In 34 total appearances since joining the Club ahead of the 2019 season, the Portuguese international has had his hand in 26 goals for the Lions in that span.
Chris Mueller notched his first assist of the season on Saturday against Inter Miami, lobbing a ball into dangerous territory for Nani. Mueller has now scored four goals for the Lions in regular season play, good for fourth in MLS, to add to his one assist. Since being selected by Orlando City in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft, Mueller has netted 12 goals while adding 11 assists to contribute to the Lions’ attack.
Wednesday’s match will serve as the first at Exploria Stadium since the Lions’ home opener on February 29 against Real Salt Lake, which resulted in a scoreless draw. Orlando City will play three matches in Phase 1 in The City Beautiful, set to host Atlanta United on Saturday, Sept. 5 followed by their first home match against Inter Miami CF on Saturday, Sept. 12.
Welcome to the Club
On Friday, the Lions announced their newest signing in forward Matheus Aiás from English Championship side Watford FC. Aiás comes to Orlando following two seasons on loan with Mirandés of Spain’s Segunda División beginning in August 2018. Through the 2018-19 campaign, Aiás made 41 appearances for Mirandés while netting 11 goals, helping the side achieve promotion. The next season, he totaled 34 appearances and 12 finishes, six of which came in the Copa del Rey. In that same competition, he scored four goals in three matches against top La Liga sides Villarreal CF, Sevilla FC and Real Sociedad.
- Nani is one assist shy of tying former Lions forward Carlos Rivas for third in Club history; Forward Chris Mueller is two assists shy of reaching the same mark.
- Defender Kyle Smith is one appearance away from 25 for Orlando City.
- Defender Robin Jansson is one start away from 35 for the Lions.
- Nani is one appearance away from 35 for City.
- Sebas Méndez is one appearance away from 30 for Orlando City.
- Tesho Akindele is one appearance away from 35 for the Lions.