Entering the game on Thursday night, the Lions knew they couldn’t afford to drop any more points.
At this point of the season, especially at home.
But two goals late in the first half from Maxi Moralez and Anton Tinnerholm guided New York City FC to a 2-0 victory over struggling Orlando City in front of 23,790 in attendance at Orlando City Stadium.
“When you look at the difference in performance in the first half and second half… second half we come out, and we have lots of opportunities, hit the crossbar, big moments just don’t seem to be dropping for us,” said Orlando coach James O’Connor after the game.
“There shouldn’t be such a disparity in performance between first and second half.”
Moralez gave the visitors the lead in the 40th minute after a shot from Rodney Wallace hit off the post, finding Moralez to strike the rebound past goalkeeper Earl Edwards Jr.
Tinnerholm doubled the lead a minute into first-half stoppage time after a giveaway in the middle, saw the Swedish defender beat Victor PC Giro to strike the ball from close toward the bottom-left corner of net.
Thursday night was a game of missed chances for the Lions, who managed to hit the woodwork four times throughout the game. Before conceding two goals in the first half, a ball from Sacha Kljestan found Yoshimar Yotun, who took a left-footed shot in the 38th minute toward the crossbar.
The Lions (7-13-1, 22 points) tallied 20 shots — 17 of which were produced in the second. Five shots were on target.
In the 61st minute, RJ Allen found Yotun making a run on the right inside the box, but the Peruvian struck the ball off the post. In the 78th minute, Kljestan found Chris Schuler open in the box, but his shot also hit the crossbar.
The crossbar continued to prevent Orlando from scoring when Josue Colman also hit the woodwork in the 89th minute.
“It is what it is, you look at the game as tale of two halves, there’s opportunities to score goals in both halves and there’s opportunities to prevent both goals from happening,” said Will Johnson.
The Lions have one win in their last 12 games in MLS this season.
Orlando City were reduced to 10 players after Shane O’Neill was issued a straight red card for a studs-up challenge on Moralez.
A short turnaround for Orlando awaits as they travel to take on the LA Galaxy on Sunday at the StubHub Center, a game Johnson said the Lions must be willing to take advantage of.
“We’re trying, we’re fighting every game,” said Johnson. “It’s not an effort thing, it’s guy’s understanding moments, qualities, using their brains a little bit more, putting out fires. It’ll be the same, they got just as many talented players, so it’s another challenge for our group.”
40′ Maxi Moralez
45+1′ Anton Tinnerholm (Maxi Moralez)
Away at Los Angeles Galaxy on Sunday, July 29 at 9:30 p.m. ET.
How the Lions lined up
Orlando City XI: Earl Edwards Jr; Victor PC Giro, Chris Schuler, Shane O’Neill, RJ Allen; Cristian Higuita (67′), Will Johnson (82′), Sacha Kljestan (c); Yoshimar Yotun, Chris Mueller (71′); Dom Dwyer.
Bench: Joe Bendik, Josue Colman (82′), Scott Sutter, Amro Tarek, Tony Rocha (67′), Donny Toia, Stefano Pinho (71′).
(Photos by Maddie Schroeder)
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