Taking the field once again with a piecemeal starting XI, Orlando City held off a flurry of Philadelphia Union offensive action to preserve a 2-1 victory and begin the MLS season with a win streak for the first time in club history.
The Union very nearly scored an own goal in the 20th minute when defender Oguchi Onyewu attempted to clear a ball off a header only to see it slam into the cross bar of the goal.
After the own goal tease, the scoring got started in the 39th minute when Jonathan Spector found Carlos Rivas lined up perfectly with the defensive line deep in Union territory. Rivas took the long pass and immediately turned around a sublime cross to Cyle Larin for the tap in triggering a deafening roar from the home crowd.
In spite of the fact that the Lions were running a 4-4-2 formation with a makeshift back line of Johnson, Aja, Spector and Toia, the team exhibited defensive tenacity that has been sorely lacking over the past two seasons. But they weren’t perfect.
The Union weren’t going to go out without a fight as they consistently play Orlando tough and tonight was no different as CJ Sapong responded just after half time in the 52nd minute sneaking a header past a diving Joe Bendik off a deflection by Alejandro Bedoya.
The night would ultimately go to the Lions though as Rivas corralled the ball in the center of the Union side of the field and tapped it to MPG on the right who placed a nearly perfect pass to a streaking Larin who beat keeper Andre Blake to the right side. Purple smoke erupted once again as the sold out stadium plunged into delirium.
Despite a furious sequence of Union offensive activity in stoppage, Bendik came up with a huge save in the final minute to preserve Orlando City’s second straight win.
Larin once again showed continued poise and fitness, never slacking the full 90 minutes but Carlos Rivas is starting to turn into a bona fide star and his performance was not lost on Head Coach Jason Kreis:
“It’s really pleasing to see Cyle get a couple goals,” Kreis said. “His partner up there, he deserves a couple as well so I wouldn’t want to say anything about the forwards without saying how important Carlos Rivas was to the performance tonight as well.”
After a two week FIFA international window, the Lions return to action Saturday April 1st at 4pm ET when they visit the Columbus Crew at Mapfre Stadium.
3’ Matías Pérez García sprints onto a loose ball on the right wing and earns a corner. The Argentine curls an in-swinging ball that goalkeeper Andre Blake catches high in the air.
7’ After Cyle Larin was fouled 35 yards from goal, Pérez García drives a dangerous ball to the far post but Philadelphia clears.
9’ Carlos Rivas lifts a gorgeous ball 30 yards across the pitch over the Union back line to Larin in the box. The Canadian takes a touch but can’t flick it over an oncoming Blake.
11’ Jonathan Spector does well to intercept a pass in front of his own box before darting through space to lead the charge. Spector slides a through ball for Rivas but the Colombian can’t catch up to it.
15’ Spector blocks Chris Pontius’ centering pass and Will Johnson does well to collect the ball in the box and prevent a corner kick.
18’ Rivas draws a free kick on the right wing 25 yards from the near post. Pérez García floats a ball to Larin but his header is blocked and cleared.
20’ From well inside his own half, José Aja bombs the ball up field so high that Oguchi Onyewu can’t head it away from danger, instead directing it backwards and off his own crossbar. Larin and Rivas try to capitalize on the mayhem but the Union clear.
22’ Pérez García floats a ball to Antonio Nocerino streaking to the near post. Blake comes out to stop Nocerino’s first-time shot.
35’ Spector fearlessly blocks a shot from CJ Sapong with his face from point-blank range.
39’ Rivas fights off two defenders before rifling a cross to Cyle Larin, who just needed to make contact to slam the ball home from one yard out.
45’ Aja follows Sapong across to the left side of the field to stop him from receiving a throw-in that would have put him in alone.
45 (+1)’ Pérez García sprints up the left wing, blocks an attempted clearance, gets up and continues sprinting onto the loose ball.
45 (+3)’ After three minutes of added time, the referee ends the first half. Orlando City 1, Philadelphia Union 0.
52’ Philadelphia gets on the board with CJ Sapong’s header after Alejandro Bedoya got a touch on it.
60’ Servando Carrasco lifts a clever header for Rivas, who does well to control and get back on his feet before crossing to Pérez García and earning a corner.
68’ After several hard runs up the wing, Rivas makes a clever backheel pass while fighting off a defender to find Pérez García with space.
69’ Rivas connects with Giles Barnes to earn a corner kick. Will Johnson delivers an in-swinging ball that Blake catches in traffic.
71’ Cristian Higuita enters the match in place of Servando Carrasco.
73’ Pérez García slips a ball in behind for Cyle Larin, who races onto it and slots it past Blake for his third goal of the season.
76’ Aja clears the danger from the box and sets up the counter attack. Pérez García, Rivas and Larin sprint up the pitch and Pérez García passes to Larin, but his shot goes over the bar.
81’ Hadji Barry enters the match in place of Pérez García.
89’ After an exceptional performance, Carlos Rivas leaves the match. Pierre Da Silva takes his place, marking his MLS debut.
90 (+3)’ Joe Bendik makes an absolutely spectacular save to preserve the lead. Bendik leaps in the air and swats away Bedoya’s header from point-blank range.
90 (+4)’ After four minutes of added time, the referee ends the match. Orlando City 2, Philadelphia Union 1.
Teams 1 2 F
Orlando City SC 1 1 2
Philadelphia Union 0 1 1
ORL – Cyle Larin (Carlos Rivas, Jonathan Spector) 39’
PHI – CJ Sapong 52’
ORL – Cyle Larin (Matías Pérez García) 73’
ORL – Carlos Rivas (Yellow Card) 25’
PHI – Oguchi Onyewu (Yellow Card) 28’
ORL – Matías Pérez García (Yellow Card) 80’
PHI – Haris Medunjanin (Yellow Card) 80’
ORL – Jonathan Spector (Yellow Card) 82’
Orlando City SC – GK Joe Bendik, D Donny Toia, Jonathan Spector, José Aja, (C) Will Johnson, M Antonio Nocerino, Servando Carrasco (Cristian Higuita 71’), Giles Barnes, Matías Pérez García (Hadji Barry 81’), F Carlos Rivas (Pierre Da Silva 89’), Cyle Larin
Substitutes Not Used: GK Josh Saunders, D Tommy Redding, PC, M Richie Laryea
Philadelphia Union – GK Andre Blake, D Fabinho, Richie Marquez, Oguchi Onyewu, Keegan Rosenberry, M Haris Medunjanin, Derrick Jones (Roland Alberg 77’), Ⓒ Alejandro Bedoya, Chris Pontius (Fafa Picault 86’), Fabian Herbers (Ilsinho 61’), F CJ Sapong
Substitutes Not Used: GK John McCarthy, D Raymon Gaddis, Jack Elliott, M Warren Creavalle
Details of the Game:
Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Date: March 18, 2017
ORL – 51.5 %
PHI – 48.5 %
ORL – 10
PHI – 13
ORL – 1
PHI – 3
ORL – 13
PHI – 12
ORL – 5
PHI – 7