Charleston SC – Orlando City drew NYCFC 1-1 tonight before a crowd of over 5,000 in their opening match in the Carolina Cup Challenge.
The Lions came out of the gate dominating the ball and throwing a party on the NYCFC side of the field with plenty of Head Coach Adrian Heath’s rapid passing attack in full effect. But it was NYCFC’s David Villa who had the first real threat when he fired a shot off the crossbar in the 11th minute.
Kaka started the scoring with a great hip fake that put Jason Hernandez on the turf and a strike to the lower right corner of the net in the 31st minute. He was fult tilt throughout the match, looking every bit the DP that he is. Along with Molino and Rochez, the scoring third in purple had flashes of brilliance that all too often came up just shy of the back of the net. Still, the side from the City Beautiful clearly looked more alive on the balance of the first half.
NYCFC flipped the script on the Lions though in the second half coming out as if Head Coach Jason Kreis had threatened their lives. They were putting more pressure on Orlando CIty, forcing turnovers and wreaking havoc in the backfield. Eventually they capitalized when rookie Khiry Shelton equalized in the 56th minute on a pass from David Villa off a freshly beaten Aurélien Collin.
The match proved to be a chippy affair with yellow cards getting tossed out left and right to both sides. This was certainly not the typical preseason game with a rematch in the season opener bearing down on March 8th. It was readily apparent that this is going to be a game that means something to these teams.
Midway through the second half, both sides substituted en masse with Cyle Larin coming on for Orlando City and displaying some of the talent that got him drafted number 1.
Afterwards, NYCFC Head Coach Jason Kreis had nothing but good things to say about Adrian Heath’s side, “I was very impressed with Orlando City,” Kreis said. “Very impressed with the performance, very impressed with the style of play, very impressed with how cohesive they looked, very impressed with the fact they’ve even done some dead ball work.”
The Orlando City supporters packed a solid section of the stands and did not disappoint with flags, chants and smoke rolling for the entire 90 minutes. On the evening, not only were the Lions in excellent form, the supporters groups also showed they are going to be more than ready for the MLS home opener in two weeks.