An unexpected bye-week couldn’t keep the Lions cool.
But it did keep Cyle Larin hot as his two-goal performance lifted Orlando City past the Philadelphia Union 2-1 Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd of 25,527 at Orlando City Stadium.
“I think first and foremost it’s about the workrate and commitment that Cyle has put in to take himself to a new fitness level,” said Orlando City head coach Jason Kreis. “He’s able to play a little bit different way than he did last year and I think, as I’ve always said, I enjoy seeing people that work hard get some success. It’s really pleasing to see Cyle get a couple goals.”
Larin opened the scoring in the 28th minute after Jonathan Spector played a long-ball toward Carlos Rivas. The Colombian attacker then was able to control the ball and whipped a low cross for an easy tap-in goal for Larin.
C.J. Sapong, however, equalized the scoring in the 52nd minute after heading the ball past Joe Bendik. The Lions (2-0-0, six points) retook the lead in the 73rd minute after Rivas’ backheel flick to Matias Perez Garcia resulted into a pass through the Union’s back line, finding Larin to slot the ball past Andre Blake.
“I have to keep doing what I’m doing, and it’s all because of my teammates,” said Larin. “They help me and get me the ball when I make the run. It’s not all me. I just make sure I finish the ball.”
It was Larin’s third goal in two games this season for Orlando to remain undefeated at home.
Rivas had a productive outing, which saw him produce an assist in the opening goal and beating defenders throughout the game.
“Little by little we’re getting used to each other playing together up front. It’s just a matter of time, but we’re getting better,” said Rivas on his growing partnership with Larin.
A late scare almost resulted into Orlando sharing points with Philadelphia when Ilsinho’s strike outside the box hit the bottom-left post in stoppage time with the following play finding Alejandro Bedoya to convert a header that was eventually saved by Bendik.
Jason Kreis’ men came close to taking an early lead in the 20th minute after Philadelphia defender Oguchi Onyewu headed the ball toward his own post.
Will Johnson was deployed a right back for the second consecutive time this season, and provided a crucial save in the 37th minute when his diving tackle was able to scoop the ball from Chris Pontius, who was yards away from striking from close range.
Orlando City academy product Pierre Da Silva made his MLS debut after getting substituted in the 89th minute for Rivas.
After a lackluster performance on possession against New York City FC during week one, the Lions dominated possession over the Union with 51 percent. Orlando also outshot Philadelphia 10-5.
The Lions head into the FIFA international break undefeated at home, but are back in action on April 1 when they visit the Columbus Crew at Mapfre Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.
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