PREVIEW – The 2023 Major League Season is here, this weekend. It’s about time, many teams have loaded up in search of the elusive MLS Cup. Two teams in search of such play Saturday night as the New York Red Bulls travel to Orlando City. Both teams have had notable offseasons, bringing in huge additions. The Red Bulls look to build off a top-4 finish in 2022, while Orlando are coming off winning their first trophy in history. It’s one of the many intriguing games on the slate this weekend, let’s give it a preview.
Red Bulls head to Orlando City to kick off 2023 MLS Season
No Dante Vanzeir for New York in their trip to Orlando
Gerhard Struber will enter his third full season at the helm with big expectations. Last season saw the Red Bulls clinch a home playoff game for the first time since 2018, and 50+ points to boot. Furthermore, they’ve gone into this offseason with a plan to bring in depth, transfer out players and bring in others on big money. Patryk Klimala is gone, in comes Dante Vanzeir, who won’t be available but is training and will soon see the field after this weekend. New captain Sean Nealis will lead the side out alongside Andres Reyes. Kyle Duncan arrives back on loan and will likely be the starting right back.
— New York Red Bulls (@NewYorkRedBulls) February 23, 2023
The dynamic duo of Luquinhas and Lewis Morgan are the ever-present danger to any opposition. Elias Manoel returns on a permanent transfer and will be part of a two-striker system along with Tom Barlow. One thing to note: the Red Bulls finished last season with the second-best road record in all of MLS, 30 points. A win in Orlando to start the season would be a lovely boost and a nice signal of intent that New York means business.
Orlando look to build off their best ever season
They are the reigning U.S. Open Cup champions. Oscar Pareja has brought the feel good factor and has continued his fine work, carrying over from his days at FC Dallas. And while Red Bulls fans have had a great offseason, Orlando may have had the best of any team in the league. They’ve tapped into their connections in South America – which has a good track record – and brought in numerous players. Martin Ojeda comes from Godoy Cruz in Argentina, Rafael Santos is their new left-back from Cruzeiro in Brazil and Ramiro Enrique arrives as an attacker from Banfield in Argentina.
— Orlando City SC (@OrlandoCitySC) February 24, 2023
Add that to a side that has the dynamic Facundo Torres and Ercan Kara and you have a squad that can compete on multiple fronts. Orlando beat the Red Bulls 5-1 in the Open Cup semifinals last year en route to winning the trophy. Pedro Gallese returns as one of the league’s top keepers, and is backed by a veteran centerback partnership. This team has the makings of a possible MLS Cup contender. Fun fact about this matchup: the road team has won the last three league meetings. A good omen for the Red Bulls, but Orlando will no doubt have a say in this. Look, these two sides on paper are evenly-matched, with similar ambitions. You should also expect some rustiness from this game, preseason can only get you so sharp. With the attacking talent on display, expect plenty of chances from both sides.
Prediction: Orlando City 1-1 New York Red Bulls
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