Last Time at Exploria…
FC Cincinnati has made just one prior visit to The City Beautiful in its brief MLS history, a match that resulted in a 5-1 victory for the Lions. After Daren Mattocks gave the visitors the early lead, the Lions would go on to net the next five finishes, with Nani and Tesho Akindele each bagging braces on the day with former Orlando City forward Dom Dwyer rounding out the finishing on the afternoon. The Lions have played to a 1-0-1 record in two prior matches against Cincinnati, battling to a 1-1 draw on Sept. 29, 2019 for the other contest.
Luis Nani found the back of the net for the Lions for the first time in the 2021 MLS campaign this past Friday at Sporting Kansas City, flicking the ball into the back of the net with a backheel. The finish served as the Portuguese international’s 22nd across all competitions for the Lions since joining the Club ahead of the 2019 season. With the finish on Friday, Nani has found the back of the net in three of the Lions’ last five contests across all competitions, earning an MLS Team of the Week Bench honor for his performance in Kansas City.
Feeding the Attack
Forward Chris Mueller registered the assist on Nani’s equalizer last Friday at Sporting KC, his 19th in his MLS career. The Lions’ 2018 MLS SuperDraft selection trails only former Orlando City captain Kaká in Club history at that mark, now just three assists away from the Brazilian international’s 22. Now in his fourth season with the Club, Mueller has found the back of the net 18 times, putting his total goal contributions at 37.
The No. 10
Saturday will mark the first time that Lions midfielder Mauricio Pereyra will be eligible for selection on the year, missing the start of the campaign due to a two-game suspension. Pereyra’s presence was more than felt in route to the Lions’ 2020 success, with the side holding a 8-1-5 record when their No. 10 appeared in the starting lineup, as opposed to a 3-3-3 record when he was not.
Defending Our Home
The Lions have fallen just once at Exploria Stadium since the start of the 2020 MLS season, holding a 6-1-4 record in such contests in that span. Through 11 such matches, City holds a +11 goal differential, finding the back of the net 22 times in front of its home crowd while conceding just 11. The Lions opened the 2021 campaign in The City Beautiful, battling to a scoreless draw with Atlanta United FC.
- Nani’s next goal will be his 20th in the regular season for Orlando City.
- Benji Michel is two appearances away from his 50th in all competitions for Orlando City.
- Tesho Akindele is three goals away from 40 in MLS regular-season play.
- Pedro Gallese is three saves away from 80 for Orlando City in all competitions.