Playing in front of the largest crowd in MLS history, the Lions and Five Stripes didn’t fail to disappoint after playing to a six-goal thriller.
Dom Dwyer scored his first two MLS goals for Orlando City and notched an assist, but Josef Martinez’s hat-trick sealed a 3-3 draw for Atlanta United on Saturday in front of a record-breaking crowd of 70,425 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
“Obviously our objective was to get the three points here, as it will be now the rest of the way,” said Orlando coach Jason Kreis. “To settle for a point is a little disheartening, but to look past that and look at the performance, I’m really proud in what the guys put into it. Thought the effort, mentality to respond twice after giving away goals and getting the lead again was fantastic. The guys gave us everything, and I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
Dwyer gave the Lions (9-12-8, 35 points) the lead in the 10th minute after heading a cross from Donny Toia past Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
Martinez scored the equalizer for Atlanta in the 36th minute before Dwyer answered back by securing his brace after heading a cross from Scott Sutter in the 39th minute for the go-ahead goal before halftime.
Martinez, again, equalized the match 2-2 for the home side after heading a ball from Chris McCann in the 55th minute, but the Lions would score another go-ahead goal after a cross from Dwyer connected with Cyle Larin to score his 12th goal of the year for the 3-2 lead.
But Martinez’s recent scoring form proved to be a constant nuisance for the Lions, especially after securing his hat trick and equalizing the game 3-3 after striking a ball from Hector Villalba in the 69th minute.
Larin has scored back-to-back goals in his last two games with Orlando, and has three goals in his last four games with the Purple Kits.
Jonathan Spector, who returned to the starting lineup after five weeks away due to injury, played 59 minutes. The defender was substituted out for Leo Pereira.
“Struggling, coming back from that knee injury, having to play in that turf tonight I think was really difficult… in the second half, it got to a point where we didn’t feel like he couldn’t go anymore, so we had to make a change,” Kreis said on Spector leaving the game early.
On paper, Atlanta outshot Orlando 17-10 and finished with seven shots on target.
The Lions continue their road swing with a match at Providence Park against the Portland Timbers on Sunday, Sept. 24 at 8 p.m.
Here’s how the Lions lined up:
Orlando City XI: Bendik; Toia, Spector, Redding, Sutter; Nocerino, Powers, Yotun, Barnes; Larin, Dwyer.
Orlando City’s bench: Rivas, Barry, Rocha, PC, Ramos, Edwards, Pereira.
(Photo Courtesy of Orlando City)
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