Major League Soccer

Nashville SC-Orlando City Preview

Oscar Pareja accepts Orlando City SC must quickly pick themselves up for Sunday's visit of Nashville SC if they are to join their opponents in clinching an MLS Cup Playoffs spot.

The Lions have taken just two points from their last three matches after following up a couple of draws with a 3-2 loss to Columbus Crew in midweek.

Orlando have slipped to fifth in Eastern Conference and may yet have to win both remaining games if they are to hold off the chasing pack in the battle for a top-seven finish.

With just three days between matches, Pareja is seeking a swift response at Exploria Stadium this weekend.

"We have to refocus again. With the proximity of these games, there's not much time to feel sorry for ourselves," he said. "We have to move on and try to focus on Nashville.

"The Columbus result is painful, for sure. In these last few games, we've been carrying some heaviness that we needed to shake off in the first half."

Nashville are five points better off than Orlando in second and, with their postseason spot already secured, are on the verge of locking in a home match first up in the playoffs.

After scoring four unanswered second-half goals to blow away FC Cincinnati last time out in a thumping 6-3 win, Gary Smith was eager to talk up his side's achievements.

"To have clinched the playoffs for our second year, two seasons, the history of the club looks good already," Smith said.

"The foundations are strong. The progression of this group has been great, and we can be excited about what comes next."

Orlando City SC - Mauricio Pereyra

The assists have dried up for Pereyra of late, with the 31-year-old having gone six matches without a direct goal involvement. However, he has still set up 10 goals this year and is one short of setting a club record for the number of assists in a single season.

Nashville SC - CJ Sapong

Sapong added two more goals to his tally in the high-scoring win over Cincinnati, bringing an end to a six-game scoreless drought in the process. The ex-United States forward has 12 goals in total this season and four assists. Beyond that, his off-the-ball movement has got the most out of Hany Mukhtar and Randall Leal in attack.

- Three of the five meetings between Orlando City and Nashville have been drawn, including both this season. The two meetings in Orlando have been split, with each side winning once last season. Both teams have scored in all five MLS encounters.

- Orlando have won only two of their last 10 games (D3 L5) following a 3-2 loss at Columbus on Wednesday. The Lions allowed three goals in that loss to the Crew, the fourth time in this 10-match span that they have let in at least three goals.

- Nashville scored a club record six goals in their 6-3 win over Cincinnati on Wednesday, despite going down 2-0 and 3-1. Nashville are the first team to trail by more than one goal and come back to win by at least three goals since LA Galaxy went from 2-0 down to a 5-2 win against San Jose in July 2015.

- Robin Jansson scored against the Crew on Wednesday, the third time in his last seven appearances he has scored for Orlando. Jansson did not score in any of his first 71 MLS appearances (including playoffs).

- Leal and Sapong each scored twice in Nashville's win in Cincinnati, the second time a pair of Nashville players had multiple goals in a single game after Sapong and Alex Muyl scored twice against D.C. United in August. Nashville are the only team with two such games this MLS season.

Updated October 30, 2021

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