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Preview: Red Bulls Open Season Against Orlando City

photo by Matt Kremkau

by Anthony J. Merced

New York Red Bulls begin a new era on Apple TV this weekend in the opening match of 2023 against Orlando City SC. The game will be a rematch of the 2022 US Open Cup semi-final, where New York were ousted by the Florida-side and went on to win their first major trophy. 

The game will see a mostly familiar line-up from New York. Returning players such as Lewis Morgan, newly minted captain Sean Nealis, Cristian Casseres Jr. and John Tolkin are all expected to make appearances. New forward Corey Burke may also get significant minutes with the incoming Dante Vanzeir still a few weeks away from match fitness.

"We were consistent in the preseason," said Nealis about the team's preparation. "If we could translate that over to the regular season where there are three games a week sometimes, I think that'll be the biggest growth and improvement factor this year and I think we can do that."

Orlando has seen several key players depart the club this off-season. Joao Moutinho, Alexandre Pato and Tesho Akindele are just a few names that won't appear on the roster. The team did bring in former Red Bull Felipe Martins as a free agent to add veteran leadership to the club. They will also be integrating a number of new signings who may not see as many minutes in week one.

Despite the US Open Cup loss, New York did have a 3-0 win over Orlando in Exploria Stadium back in April of 2022. New York's road form was one of their standout traits last season, taking a surprising nine wins away from Harrison, NJ. If they can keep that pace, it should be a successful start to the season.

Projected Starting XI:

Goalkeeper: Carlos Coronel

Defenders: John Tolkin, Sean Nealis, Andres Reyes, Dylan Nealis

Midfielders: Cristian Casseres Jr., Frankie Amaya, Lewis Morgan, Luquinhas

Forwards: Corey Burke, Elias Manoel

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