There’s something entirely different for Orlando City SC supporters to look forward to this Wednesday evening as the Lions welcome Stoke City to Titan Soccer Complex in a mid-season friendly.
The Premier League outfit became an official affiliate club to Orlando City SC back in May 2016 and as part of the agreement, this glamorous friendly was scheduled among other benefits.
The two clubs have already shared positive relations down the years with both Phil Rawlins and Adrian Heath hailing from the Staffordshire city, not to mention Anthony Pulis, James O’Connor, Lewis Neal, Martin Paterson and Brek Shea having represented both teams.
Wednesday’s evening’s friendly in Melbourne isn’t the first time Orlando City SC have faced Stoke City either with the two sides meeting in a July friendly back in 2012.
Temporarily allowing Orlando City SC a break from the rigours of a Major League Soccer campaign which has proved tough in 2016, the game might allow several fringe stars an opportunity to gain minutes on the field.
The likes of Conor Donovan, Devron García and Richie Laryea have made the bench a few times as unused substitutes in MLS so far this campaign and could receive their big chance to impress against Premier League stars.
Two men who definitely won’t be involved however are both club captain Kaká and striking talisman Cyle Larin with both having received the call-up to compete in the 2016 MLS All-Star Game against Arsenal a day later this Thursday.
Wednesday night’s fixture will represent Stoke City’s third game of their pre-season programme with Mark Hughes’ Potters having been defeated 3-0 by Burton Albion while then drawing 1-1 with Preston North End.
English opposition head-to-head stats
As already alluded to at the head of the article, Orlando City SC and Stoke City previously met back in July 2012 at the Citrus Bowl.
Four years ago, 10,441 fans turned out to watch Republic of Ireland international Jonathan Walters score the solitary goal of the game in a 0-1 victory for the English side.
Orlando City SC 0 Stoke City 1 – Highlights – July 28, 2012 (Credit: evandavid116)
This year it’s Stoke City arriving in Florida but last year it was another Midlands team in West Bromwich Albion who provided the friendly competition for Orlando City SC.
And after Callum McManaman put Tony Pulis’ Baggies 0-1 up at the Citrus Bowl on 14 minutes, Kaká inspired a rousing comeback with Orlando City SC running out 3-1 winners with Carlos Rivas and Bryan Róchez bagging the other two goals.
Orlando City SC 3 West Bromwich Albion 1 – Highlights – July 15, 2015 (Credit: West Bromwich Albion)
Wednesday evening’s encounter with Stoke City will be the FIFTH Orlando City SC friendly against English opposition.
The Lions’ first ever match-up against an English side came back in their first ever USL campaign in July 2011 when Bolton Wanderers ran out 1-3 winners at the Citrus Bowl through goals from Kevin Davies, Darren Pratley and Martin Petrov.
Since then, Orlando City SC have beaten Newcastle United 1-0, lost 0-1 to Stoke City and beaten West Bromwich Albion 3-1.
Study the FOUR previous friendly fixtures against English opposition and you’ll find that Orlando City SC have scored AT LEAST ONE GOAL in THREE of those FOUR games.
With the 0-1 loss to Stoke City in July 2012 proving the exception, we’re all more than aware that given Orlando City SC‘s expansive playing style, we usually bag our fair share of goals!
- July 17th 2011 – Orlando City SC 1 Bolton Wanderers 3
- July 23rd 2011 – Orlando City SC 1 Newcastle United 0
- July 28th 2012 – Orlando City SC 0 Stoke City 1
- July 15th 2015 – Orlando City SC 3 West Bromwich Albion 1
Orlando City SC form
In the lead up to the current 2016 Major League Soccer campaign, Adrian Heath‘s Orlando City SC competed in SIX pre-season friendlies, all taking place within Florida.
Winning all but one of those games – a 2-1 loss at Jacksonville Armada on February 13th – Orlando City SC are unbeaten in their last FOUR friendlies.
- February 17th 2011 – Orlando City SC 3 New York Red Bulls 2
- February 20th 2011 – Orlando City SC 2 Toronto FC 1
- February 27th 2012 – Orlando City SC 6 Esporte Clube Bahia 1
- February 28th 2015 – Orlando City SC 1 UCF Knights 1
Orlando City SC met UCF Knights in their most recently friendly fixture at Sylvan Lake Park, Sanford in late February.
In a 1-1 full-time result, both goals came within a dramatic two-minute spell whereby a Harrison Heath spot kick cancelled out the Knights’ lead.
As is usually the case, Orlando City SC went a little goal crazy in pre-season, most notably slamming SIX past Brazilian outfit Esporte Clube Bahia at the Citrus Bowl on February 27th.
Despite being a friendly, the result was even more astounding due to the fact that Seb Hines remarkably scored FOUR headers within the same game!
This result contributed towards the fact that there have been OVER 2.5 GOALS scored in FIVE of Orlando City SC‘s last SIX friendly encounters.
Orlando City SC 6 Esporte Clube Bahia 1 – Highlights – February 27, 2015 (Credit: Esporte Carioca)