New York City FC vs. Orlando City FC Prediction, Preview, and Odds - 7/25/21

Two Eastern Conference teams vying for playoff position will clash on Sunday evening when New York City FC hosts Orlando City SC at Yankee Stadium. Orlando is having a strong year at 7-4-3 to rank second in the East after beating the Philadelphia Union 2-1 at home on Thursday as a _107 underdog. NYCFC is coming off a 1-0 home win over CF Montreal on Wednesday as a big -243 favorite, and is now in seventh place at 6-2-5.

These teams fought to a 1-1 drawback on May 8 at Exploria Stadium, bringing Orlando’s all-time lead to 6-7-5.

Win over Union has Orlando near the top of the table

Orlando had faltered some lately against a difficult schedule, but is right back in second place after taking down one of the East’s best squads with a 2-1 win over Philadelphia on Thursday. Benji Michel got Orlando off to a great start with the opening goal in the 10th minute, and after turning away a few good chances for Philadelphia early in the second half, the hosts took command on Mauricio Pereyra’s header into the net in the 59th, as the Union were only able to get one back.

Those were the only two attempts on target Orlando had all night, as Philadelphia generated more pressure with 18 shots to Orlando’s five overall while holding 51% possession. Orlando goalkeeper Pedro Gallese made five stops, including two strong denials late with the Union pressing hard for the tying goal.

Despite the lack of chances, Orlando kept up its strong scoring numbers, and is now averaging 1.64 goals on 11.5 shots per match this season. Few defenses are better than Orlando across MLS, with opponents only putting up exactly one goal per game on an average of 12.64 shots while getting shutout five times.

Nani is having a terrific season with seven goals and four assists to lead the Orlando attack. Tesho Akindele has added three goals and four assists, while grading out as Orlando’s best player by advanced metrics, with Michel also now finding the back of the net three times.

While most starters have recently returned from international duty, striker Daryl Dike is still with the United States at the Gold Cup. Key forward Alexandre Pato is getting closer to returning from a knee injury he suffered in the first weekend of the season, but probably won’t quite be ready for Saturday. Outside back Ruan is also out with a leg injury.

NYCFC snaps Montreal’s six-game win streak in crucial victory

After losing to Montreal just two weeks ago, NYCFC got some quick revenge on Wednesday night in a 1-0 victory to deny the Canadian side a franchise-record seven-game winning streak and climb back into playoff position. Montreal hit the crossbar early but that would be its best chance of the game, as Ismael Tajouri-Shradi scored in the 29th minute for the lone tally of the evening, as both teams went on to have a goal called back for offsides in the second half.

NYCFC was in control for the most part after the first few minutes, as it outshot Montreal 17-7 while getting five of those attempts on target. Even with Montreal holding a 57% possession advantage, NYCFC keeper Luis Barraza only had to make one save to keep the clean sheet while also recording an assist on Tajouri-Shradi’s goal.

While the overall record isn’t overly impressive for NYCFC, it does have some of the most balanced numbers in MLS on both sides of the ball, including averaging 1.62 goals and 15.69 shots per game. Opponents are scoring just 1.15 goals on 8.30 shots per match against NYCFC, which now has four clean sheets on the season.

Jesus Medina is enjoying a prolific season with six goals to lead NYCFC, and Tajouri-Shradi is now just behind with five. Valentin Castellanos has been NYCFC’s top playmaker with four goals and a team-high three assists.

Like most teams in MLS, NYCFC is missing some key players for international duty, as dynamic midfielder James Sands and starting goaltender Sean Johnson are with the USMNT for the Gold Cup. Heber remains out due to an ACL injury, while Talles Magno is also sidelined by a knee issue.

Side prediction: Orlando City +1 (-120)

Total: Under 3 (-125)

It wouldn’t be a surprise to see NYCFC start to rise up the table, but these odds are too harsh to an Orlando team that has been fantastic all season. Orlando is certainly capable enough to battle for a result here, and at the very least won’t lose by multiple goals as its defense is too hard to break down.

Opponents have only scored multiple times against Orlando four times this season as it has conceded the fourth-fewest times in all of MLS, and a recent run of poor results prior to Thursday was due to international absences including a stellar goaltender in Gallese. While the attack isn’t quite as prolific, Nani and Akindele have been outstanding by the expected goals plus assists metric, and NYCFC will be tested with a backup keeper in for Johnson.

Sands’ absence will be felt in this match for NYCFC, as he is having a terrific Gold Cup and his playmaking presence in the midfield is much-needed against such a tough defense. Orlando just proved it can beat elite competition with a win over Philadelphia, and continues to get undervalued despite being one of the top five teams in MLS by record.

While these are good offenses, both defenses are among the league’s elite and will be tough to break down, especially considering the two teams might sit back a little more with each coming off a short turnaround. NYCFC has been a little unfortunate to even concede over once per match on average, as it leads MLS with 1.07 expected goals allowed per game and just shut out red hot Montreal.

This isn’t the best attack Orlando can offer either, as Pato was a big part of the plan before getting hurt while Dike has scored twice in four MLS games this year and is looking like a breakout star at the Gold Cup. These teams combined for two goals in the earlier meeting this year, and backing the strength of the defenses is the best bet in this match.

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Nathaniel Reeves

Nathaniel Reeves is an avid sports fan with degrees in journalism from the University of Washington and statistics from Western Washington University. He's always had a passion for applying statistical analysis to sports betting and has successfully handicapped college football, college basketball, and Esports for years. Nathaniel has endured being a lifelong fan of the Seattle Mariners, along with the Seattle Seahawks, UW Huskies and soon to be Seattle Kraken. He has been a very successful sports bettor the last several years and we are thrilled that Nate has chosen to bring his talents to us here at Winners & Whiners. You would be very wise to follow him daily.

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