top of page

Orlando City SC vs DC United Game Preview

Predicted Lineups:

Orlando City SC: Pedro Gallese, Rodrigo Schlegel, Robin Jansson, Antonio Carlos, Gaston Gonzalez, Cesar Araujo, Mauricio Pereyra, Ivan Carlos, Martin Ojeda, Facundo Torres, Ramiro Enrique

Subs: Robin Jansson, Luca Petrasso, Kyle Smith, Michael Halliday, Abdi Salim, Iván Angulo, Mason Stajduhar, Rafael Santos, Felipe Martins, Duncan McGuire, Martin Ojeda, Gaston Gonzalez, Wilder Cartagena, Dagur Thorhallsson, Ercan Kara

Captain: Mauricio Pereyra

Formation - (3-4-2-1)

DC United 

Starters: Tyler Miller, Steve Birnbaum, Donovan Pines, Victor Pálsson, Pedro Santos, Ruan, Russell Canouse, Lewis O’Brien, Mateusz Klich,  Christian Benteke, Taxi Fuentas 

Subs: Alex Bono, Matai Akinmboni, Hayden Sargis, Jacob Greene, Kristen Fletcher, Jackson Hopkins, Ted Ku-DiPietro, Chris Durkin, Yamil Asad

Captain: Steve Birnbaum

Formation - (3-5-2) 

Injury Report:


  • Martin Rodríguez (ankle)

  • Derrick Williams (thigh)

  • Brandon Hines-Ike (foot)

  • Nigel Robertha (ankle)

  • Mo Jeahze

The Managers: 

Orlando City SC - Oscar Pareja 

Now in his fourth season as Head Coach of Orlando City, Óscar Pareja has brought a great deal of success to the Lion’s of Orlando. Since his hiring in December of 2019, Orlando City have finished no lower than seventh in the Eastern Conference, and have participated in the playoffs for 3 straight seasons. They have also enjoyed some tournament successes with a second-place finish in the MLS Is Back Tournament and winning last season’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title. It’s been a slower start than many might have expected, but it’s not been a bad start, and last week’s win in Minnesota could be a precursor of things to come.

DC United - Wayne Rooney 

DC’s Gaffer is 4-0-1 against Orlando City between his time as a player and as a head coach. In a most forgettable season last year, one of the few teams DC handled, and handled easily was Orlando. Rooney has proven to be a very pragmatic coach, not we’d to any idea outside of every player on the field gives it his all. Rooney continues to preach attention to detail, and positive play. He feels that the goals will come if the team continues to be aggressive.

Keys to the Match: 

Can the O’Brien experience Continue? DC United’s new loan signing Lewis O’Brien has definitely brought quality to the field of play. O’Brien has been an incredibly effective player, able to make an immediate impact in the center of the field. He and Klich offer the Black and Red the ability to control the ball in ways that many teams in MLS just can’t. With Taxi in front of them, expect some clever dribble penetration, and passing that creates opportunities to score.

Can DC continue to solidify the defense? The Black and Red have been incorporating a three in the back defense so that the team can get both Russell Canouse and Victor Pálsson onto the pitch at the same time. With those two there for support, and better play by Pines and Birnbaum, the defense has looked much more organized. The next step in this team’s maturation is learning to pass out of the back better, and utilize the team’s defensive foundation to spring into the offense.

Can DC generate more offense? DC United’s defense has definitely improved, but somewhat at the cost of its offense. Too much of the offense has been reliant on long passes to Christian Benteke, and his holdup play till he can make a pass to a teammate. United have so much more potential than that. Their best scores this season came from quick well timed passes that led to open looks. DC needs to build up their offense, with patience and quick passing.

Does Orlando start to meet preseason expectations?  Orlando started the 2023 MLS campaign on a positive note, winning their first 1-0 over the New York Red Bulls and drawing their second and third games; the third being a draw versus DC United at Audi Field. Despite this start, Orlando City’s season has been ho-hum at best. Part of this is due to Orlando’s first foray into the CONCACAF Champions League. They matched up against Tigres UANL and managed to hold them to two draws. Unfortunately they gave up a goal at home, which was enough to see Tigres through. This is indicative of the Lion’s season so far; they are not playing badly, but there isn’t anything making them feel special. Right now they’re a middling team in the middle of the table.

César Araújo was the dominant player for Orlando last week. His underlying defensive numbers were particularly strong, such as interrupting opponents play, intercepting passes, a game-high 11 recoveries, and drawing fouls; Araújo is tied for second in MLS with 20 fouls suffered. At the same time the Uruguayan midfielder’s completed 88% of his team-high 66 passes.


In the Gaffer’s words:

“I think obviously we’ve had a lot of players in from the end of the last year. We’ve made signings and brought them all in and getting to know each other’s game is important and it obviously takes time. And the more games you play together, the better that’ll become.”

“Realistic for me is trying to get a really consistent team on the pitch. And we’ve rarely been able to do that. Probably Saturday coming up against Orlando is the first time I’ve got the option.”

Things to Watch: 

Offense - DC United will continue to try and control the ball; how well they do this will go along way in determining the outcome. A big part of this will be how well Klich and O’Brien play. Both of those players have tremendous control, and the ability to dribble the ball forward. Now when you add Andy Najar to the mix, DC United could be one of the best teams at controlling the ball.

It will be interesting if Ruan is again played more forward. If it’s a three at the back formation, expect Ruan to be a wingback, but if Rooney goes to his more traditional four back, expect Ruan to play more in the wing forward, where his speed and ability to run at defenders could be quite helpful. 

Expect Taxi to continue to partner with Christian Benteke at the top. The two continue to play well off each other, and they have had chances, both just need to finish, so that their confidence is bolstered. Both seem to be pressing at the moment. No matter what, the team has to be better at getting Benteke the ball in a dangerous position.

Ted Ku-DiPietro will most likely come off the bench, and it might be time to give the young homegrown player a longer look on the field.

Defense - The big question for the Black and Red will be if Wayne Rooney continues to play a back three? Does Rooney continue to play Victor Pálsson as the Right Center-Back in line with Donovan Pines and Steve Birnbaum? This has been the most effective defensive line for DC, with Derrick Williams out with an injury and Matai Akinmboni having been away with the USMNT U-17’s it makes sense for DC to continue this lineup. It also gets the best out of Ruan and Pedro Santos. Andy Najar is back, but Rooney could decide to keep him on the bench as he eases him back to full fitness.

Orlando City has only scored seven goals so far this season, so DC has a chance at keeping a clean sheet. In the first game, Duncan McGuire scored a bit of a fluke when he stumbled into the goal with the ball. DC has been reducing these mental slip ups.

By the Numbers:

DC United has scored 8 goals in 8 games and ranks 18th in MLS offense. 

DC United has conceded 12 goals, to rank 25th in the league in defense.

DC United areAveraging 1.0 goal, 4.8 shots on goal and 4.5 corner kicks through 8 games while allowing 1.5 goals per game.

DC United are ranked 11th in the Eastern Conference.

DC United ranks 8th in goals scored and 12th in goals conceded to rank it No. 22 in goal differential.

Christian Benteke has 3 goals for United. 

Mateusz Klich has 1 goal and 2 assists for DC United

O’Brien has scored 1 goal

Orlando: Averaging 1.0 goal, 3.7 shots on goal and 5.0 corner kicks through 7 games while allowing 1.0 goal per game.

Orlando City SC ranks 7th in the Eastern Conference.

Orlando City SC has allowed 7 goals, 3rd in the league.

Orlando City SC ranks No. 16 in goal differential at 0

Duncan McGuire has scored 2 goals with 1 assist for Orlando. 

Martin Ojeda has scored 2 goals and 1 assist for Orlando. 

Ivan Angulo has 2 goals for Orlando. 


Richard - 2-1 DC. DC United have not lost in their last 3 meetings with Orlando City. DC United have two clean sheets in their last 3 matches which has shown the focus Rooney has shown on the defense, but don’t expect them to keep one here. On the other hand Orlando City are without a clean sheet in their last 3 meetings, so the expectation is that the Black and Red will continue this trend.

Coverage: Apple MLS Season Pass on Apple TV (subscription required)

Pregame 7:15p 

Listen on…

📻: 1190am, 101.1HD2, 104.7fm

💻: iHeartSportsDC

🔊: Any Smart Speaker 

📱: @iHeartRadio App

Written by: RJ Rolsen 

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page