FC Cincinnati 2

PREVIEW | FC Cincinnati 2 face Orlando City B in final match of MLS NEXT Pro season

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FC Cincinnati 2 will play their final match of the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro season this Sunday, Sept. 24 against Orlando City B at Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee, Fla. The Orange and Blue look to close out the year with a win, while the Lions prepare for their first postseason appearance in MLS NEXT Pro.

Sunday is Decision Day, with every team in action, and all Eastern Conference matches kick off at 2 p.m. ET. Cincinnati’s match against Orlando, and every MLS NEXT Pro match, will stream live on MLS Season Pass on the Apple TV App. 


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FC Cincinnati 2 and Orlando City B have faced off five times all-time with the Orange and Blue holding 1-3-1 record against the Lions. Sunday’s tilt will be the third time FC Cincinnati 2 make the trip to Central Florida and are 1-1-1 at Osceola Heritage Park.

Eight goals were scored when the two sides met back on July 2 at Scudamore Field at NKU Soccer Stadium, as Orlando City B defeated FC Cincinnati 2 by a score of 5-3. The Orange and Blue opened the scoring through academy defender David Garcia’s first of the season, before Orlando’s Juninho equalized six minutes before the break.

Ryder Mills scored an eight-minute brace coming out of halftime, but Lions scored four unanswered in a span of 20 minutes to take three points on the road in a come from behind win.

Orlando City B enter the matchday after clinching a spot in the postseason following a 1-1 draw and shootout win against Chicago Fire FC II on September 15 at SeatGeek Stadium. The Lions currently sit fifth in the Eastern Conference table with a 12-10-5 record and can finish no lower than sixth. Orlando is 2-1-2 over their last five including a quality 4-1 win over Columbus Crew 2 at the end of August.

Forward Jack Lynn enters the final matchday of the season tied with New York City FC II’s Matt Myers for the top spot in the Golden Boot Race. Lynn, who scored 15 goals in 2022, has 18 to his name in 2023 and has netted three in his last three appearances. Lynn has scored six goals against FC Cincinnati 2. Shakur Mohammed, Orlando City’s first round pick in the 2023 MLS SuperDraft, has been a solid compliment to Lynn this season, scoring five goals in 23 appearances.

Lynn and company are one of the most dangerous attacking sides in MLS NEXT Pro having scored 57 goals entering the final weekend of the season. Orlando are tied with New England Revolution II and New York City FC II for the third-highest total in MLS NEXT Pro. However, the Lions have struggled to keep opponents form scoring, allowing 60 goals, the fifth most.

THERE WILL BE GOALS – Matches between FC Cincinnati 2 and Orlando City B have featured no shortage of goals. In five matches dating back to last season, the two teams have combined for 28 goals and a near six goals per match average. There have been at least four goals scored in every meeting between Cincinnati and Orlando, and both sides have picked up 5-3 wins in the all-time series.

2,000 MINUTES – Jesus Castellano and Kai Thomas have the chance to eclipse the 2,000-minute mark this Sunday against Orlando City B. Thomas leads all current FC Cincinnati 2 players in minutes played with 1,982 minutes, while Castellano is right behind the defender with 1,981. Thomas’ 25 appearances is tied for a team high while Castellano has played 86 minutes per match in 23 appearances.

A PHYSICAL BATTLE – FC Cincinnati 2 and Orlando City B will be in for a physical battle at Osceola Heritage Park. Orlando leads MLS NEXT Pro in yellow cards issued (82) while Cincinnati stands second (76) in the category. Both teams also know how to draw fouls as Orlando rank first with 424, while Cincinnati is third with 386.

ACADEMY FIRSTS – FC Cincinnati Academy midfielder Bryan Vasquez and defender Joel Ineh made their professional debuts Sunday against Columbus Crew 2. Vasquez earned his first start in his first match and played 45 minutes, while Ineh replaced Matt Schenfeld in the second half, playing 21 minutes. Four FC Cincinnati Academy players have made their debuts over the last two matchdays.

FINAL STANDINGS – Sunday’s Decision Day match between Cincinnati and Orlando won’t have an impact on the Eastern Conference playoff race, but final standings are still up for grabs. Cincinnati are set to end the year in the 11th or 12th position while Orlando could finish fifth or sixth, depending on other league results this weekend.