Orlando City v New York City, US Open Cup, Thursday July 11, 00:30 BST
The US Open Cup may not quite be ready to rival the FA Cup for prestige, but the most significant cup competition in US football has been growing in popularity over recent seasons and offers an opportunity for lesser teams such as Orlando to get their hands on silverware.
New York have the Edge
Both of these teams joined Major League Soccer (MLS) during the 2015 season and as Eastern Conference teams, they have inevitably been pitted against one another frequently during the last five seasons. And although Orlando have lacked the profile and the big-name stars of their New York rivals, they have held their own against the team from the Big Apple, winning four of their thirteen encounters, with five defeats and four draws over that period.
But recent meetings have tended to favour the New Yorkers. In fact, Orlando haven’t beaten these opponents since April 2017, although they managed two draws last season.
City’s Poor Cup Record
Boosted by the likes of Frank Lampard and David Villa, NYCFC have been regular MLS contenders, reaching the Conference semi-finals in each of the last three seasons. Yet their Open Cup performances have been disappointing, and this is the first time in five seasons that they’ve got beyond the Fourth Round in four attempts. With the MLS Cup their main focus and a crucial New York derby against the Red Bulls coming up at the weekend, Thursday’s game may not be a priority.
Orlando’s Chance for Glory
Under James O’Connor, who took over midway through the 2018 season, Orlando have continued their reputation for playing neat football to no great effect and they are once again struggling at the wrong end of the Eastern Conference. But as they showed in earning a battling draw against pace-setters Philadelphia on Sunday, they can hold their own against the better teams in MLS, and with a play-off spot once again looking unlikely, they can afford to go all out in this one.
Orlando to Shade It
NYCFC are relatively short at 15/8 for this one, reflecting their greater strength in depth, but Orlando at 11/8 could be an interesting bet against opponents who may opt to rest some of their key stars.