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● Orlando City won 14 out of 34 games last season and finished in seventh place on the table
● New York Red Bulls won 15 out of 34 games last season and finished fourth on the table
● The last time these two sides met in the MLS, Orlando City nabbed a narrow 1-0 win over New York Red Bulls
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Despite getting eliminated in the initial round of the MLS playoffs last season, New York Red Bulls enjoyed a satisfactory league campaign. They finished just two points behind their neighbors and arch-rivals New York City FC and also managed to beat CF Montreal in their own backyard.
Orlando City have managed to cling onto the lowest playoff spots over the past two seasons. However, the highlight of their season did not come in the MLS. It came in the US Open Cup 2022 where they lifted the trophy for the first time. This was Orlando City’s first piece of silverware since 2013 when they won the USL Championship.
In the US Open Cup, Orlando City did come face-to-face with the New York Red Bulls. At the end of the game, Orlando City waltzed away with a thumping 5-1 win. Apart from that, the two sides have met on 17 occasions in the MLS.
New York Red Bulls have won nine times, while Orlando City have been victorious on six occasions. Only two games in the MLS between these two sides have ended in draws. The last time these two sides met at the Exploria Stadium, New York Red Bulls won 3-0.
In a total of eight visits to the Exploria Stadium, New York Red Bulls have won four times and lost thrice. They have won on three out of their last four visits.
Orlando City added a new trophy to their cabinet for the first time in almost ten years when they won the US Open Cup last season. In the 2021 MLS season, Orlando City finished sixth, three points ahead of the New York Red Bulls.
Last season, their points tally was three points lesser as they were seventh and managed to hold on to that final playoff spot till the end, finishing only two points clear of Columbus Crew. Their playoff journey did not last long as they lost against CF Montreal in the opening round.
Their season got a whole lot better when they beat New York Red Bulls in the semi-finals of the 2022 US Open Cup and went on to beat Sacramento Republic FC 3-0 in the final. That outcome has raised the bar for Orlando City this season.
It will be interesting to see how that win impacts their new season and whether Orlando City settle for a low playoff spot or try to make their way further up the table.
While Orlando City have retained their top scorers this season, veteran midfielder Junior Urso has left the club. The defensive midfielder made over 100 appearances for the club and was rock solid in midfield.
He even chipped in with 14 goals in those 100 appearances. Last season, Urso scored five goals and registered four assists, operating as a deep-lying playmaker for Orlando City. This season, they will be without their midfield talisman who turns 34 in March.
Orlando City have been active in the transfer market and have roped in a couple of midfielders but it will be a nervous wait for the club to see if the new signings can fill the void left by Urso this season.
Apart from Urso, big names like Joao Moutinho and Alexandre Pato have also left the club. However, their replacements have been brought in without wasting any time. The biggest signing for Orlando City this season is winger Marin Ojeda, who has joined from Godoy Cruz,
The winger’s compatriot Ramiro Enrique has also joined Orlando City from Banfield. Felipe Martins and Dagur Dan Thorhallson have been brought into the midfield while the backline has been strengthened with the arrivals of Luis Grassow, Abdi Salim and Rafael Santos.
Last season, New York Red Bulls finished just two points behind arch-rivals New York City FC. For the fourth season running, New York Red Bulls finished behind their neighbors. This season, the side will be aiming to replicate their performance of the 2018 season.
In the 2018 MLS season, New York Red Bulls finished at the top of the league table with 71 points after 34 games. They finished 15 points clear of New York City FC, who finished in third place that season.
Despite that, New York Red Bulls are yet to get their hands on the MLS title. The closest they came was in the 2008 season when they finished as runners-up after Columbus Crew clinched their first-ever MLS title.
Jumping out of the shadow of New York City FC will be the top priority for New York Red Bulls this season. After which, they can think of being title contenders.
New York Red Bulls crossed the 50-goal mark last season and they had one player, in particular, to thank for it and that was winger Lewis Morgan. The Scot scored 15 goals and assisted three for the New York Red Bulls in the entire season.
He was the club’s top scorer, ten goals ahead of his team Luquinhas, who was in the second spot. Morgan’s form this season will be absolutely crucial for the New York Red Bulls if they intend to charge further up the table.
It will be extremely crucial because they will be without their other striker Patryk Klimala this season. Klimala scored five goals and assisted three in the last campaign but has left the club to join Hapoel Beer Sheva.
After the departure of Klimala, the New York Red Bulls have gone out into the transfer market with intent and brought in two promising strikers. The club has signed Dante Vanzeir from Royale Union Saint-Gilloise and also brought in Cory Burke from Philadelphia Union.
Former Gremio striker Elias Manoel has also joined the club ahead of the new season. In defense, New York Red Bulls have signed full-backs Kyle Duncan on loan from KV Oostende and Jayden Reid from UConn Huskies.
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● Teams: Orlando City vs New York Red Bulls
● Location: Exploria Stadium
● Time: Saturday, February 25 at 7:30 pm ET
● How to watch: Univision networks TUDN and UniMas, ESPN Deportes, Telemundo and Fox Deportes
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With an interest in strategy and mathematics, applying that to sports writing was the natural progression. A writer at night and the founder of a gaming company, Nikhil’s previous experience includes working with ESPN for five years. His specialization includes soccer, basketball, tennis, and esports betting. Email: [email protected]More info on Nikhil Kalro
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