There was no late-game drama, and there was no Ricardo Kaka for the most part for Orlando City.
There was, however, team-leading goalscorer Cyle Larin who scored the first-ever goal at Orlando City Stadium in the 15th minute as the Lions went on to clinch a 1-0 victory over New York City FC on Sunday in front of a sell out crowd of 25,527 in attendance.
“The level of work and commitment from our team was off the charts,” said Orlando head coach Jason Kreis. “We got a lot of work to do, we know that. Tonight the guys continued to fight, continued to stay together. There was a lot of mistakes happening… but it was a big, big night for us defensively.”
Kaka’s first official game in the new stadium only lasted 10 minutes. The Brazilian star suffered an injury in the opening minutes of the game, and Giles Barnes entered for the team captain.
The Jamaican international had an immediate impact for Kreis’ men, assisting Larin with the game’s only goal moments into his appearance after producing a cross to the far-right post, reaching the Canadian to head the ball past goalkeeper Sean Johnson.
A surprise from the night was midfielder Will Johnson deployed at right back while Antonio Nocerino and Servando Carrasco played as the team’s holding midfielders.
Despite holding on to the 1-0 lead for the whole game, Patrick Vieira’s team dominated the statistical category, outshooting the Lions 14-7 with two of those shots coming in the second half. NYCFC controlled 67 percent possession.
“I think that we showed was resilience,” said Orlando City center back Jonathan Spector. “The performance we put in wasn’t pretty, at times, and we would of liked to have more of the ball, keep more possession. I don’t think there’s any shame in conceding possession to [NYCFC], we got our goal and we won the game, and that’s what we’re here for.”
Larin’s goal on Sunday was his 32nd MLS goal in 60 appearances for the Lions. The striker played 73 minutes before getting substituted out for Cristian Higuita, who made a return from a groin injury.
Hadji Barry made a late appearance after entering for Matias Perez Garcia in the 88th minute.
Orlando City shifts its focus to Saturday when it visits the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.
(Photo Courtesy of Orlando City Communications)